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, December 18, 2012

Good news for Hallandale Beach taxpayers! Rare victory for common sense and financial accountability at City Hall courtesy of Comm. Michele Lazarow

Above, 501 N.W. 1st Avenue, Hallandale Beach, which includes the office of Zamar, Inc. Of course, even without the $50,000 in CRA funds they thought they were going to get Monday night, I suspect they can swing the $10 they pay a year in rent to taxpayers for use of the former Sanders property. May 22, 2012 photo by South Beach Hoosier. © 2012 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved
Good news for Hallandale Beach taxpayers!
There was a rare victory for common sense and financial accountability at City Hall last night, at the CRA Board of Directors meeing, courtesy of Comm. Michele Lazarow, just elected in November.

Lazarow made a motion to table the voting on agenda item 9A and have the HB City Commission vote on it again on January 14th, after the CRA Advisory Board meets one more time at a time and place TBA, which I'll share with you here once it's announced so you can attend.


Only the four original groups that made the cut will be re-examined for accuracy and compliance with city rules.

Also, at 7:11 p.m., CRA Executive Director Dr. Alvin Jackson, Jr. announced that Zamar, Inc would NOT be eligible for funding this year on account of their failure to qualify as a 501(c)(3),
as I've been writing and discussing for well over a year.
That means that $50,000 is, theoretically, on the table, to be added to the totals previously approved, or placed back into that line item until next year.  

The final vote was 5-0!

Afterwards, Comm. Anthony A. Sanders, as has often been the case the past four years on those rare times when he hasn't gotten his way, seemed to grumble and complain on the dais about the actual function and purpose of the CRA right now.

But what he really meant was the fairness of it all, just not in the way that most of the world understands the concept of "fairness."
He preferred the way things were done before when fairness to taxpayers' long term best interest played second-fiddle to his base political interests, he just didn't say this out loud, but not to worrry.
We all knew that was what really got him upset -he didn't get his way

Sanders lamented (i.e. bitched) about the fact that some people in this city -you may know them as taxpayers and small business owners- took the initiative and were able to do their own research and write persuasive emails to Comm. Lazarow and others in the community to raise reasonable questions about the true facts surrounding some of the assertions on applications of groups who've gotten CRA funds with little real oversight in the past, and who seem to have gotten used to telling less than the whole truth on their applications.
Yes, it turns out that taxpayers don't like being played for fools, not that Sanders would acknowledge this.

Lazarow was able to use common sense and persuasion about being entitled to vote based on real facts and numbers that made sense to prevent a fait accompli, and was able to make the case that more scrutiny needed to attach to the information included in the myriad applications.

In the timing is everything department, her comments came just hours after the news swept the area that earlier Monday the Broward IG has forwarded info to the Broward State's Attorney Office re Dr. Deborah Brown's Zamar Inc. re allegations of misappropriation of Hallandale Beach CRA funds.

Of course, Comm. Sanders phrased it differently, in a sour and petty way, and in the process, threw my friend and civic activist Judy Selz under the bus by name, because earlier in the evening, she reminded the entire room what taxpayers had been promised in the way of transparency, accuracy and standards with respect to CRA grants by former City manager Mark A. Antonio.

Comm. Sanders didn't seem to like the reminder that many members of this community's pro-reform elements, of which I am a part, have NOT FORGOTTEN that this process was supposed to be much more honest than it has been, but the truth is that some of his closest political pals operate on the margin in this community and do NOT tell the truth and operate on the margins of what is acceptable -and we all know it
That even includes many members of the South Florida press corps.
It's certainly no secret.

Trust me, those remarks of his won't be soon forgotten, even though it's par for the course for him, a person who was deathly afraid of showing his face  before voters in most parts of this community, as he proved during this past election, when he refused to participate in any meaningful debate.

Poor Comm. Sanders has no idea what that upcoming CRA Advisory Board meeting might be like if some of us in this city choose to drop some very pertinent facts on the table at that public meeting that don't square with the contrived version of reality some of these groups are trying to foist upon us.
Where they "serve" the community in ways that are hard to measure or in some cases, try to solve problems that most of us don't think we actually have.

(Honestly, this city and the CRA district in particular have so many problems, why the need to make them up?)

Also, in what was news to me, Comm. Sanders announced that his wife, Jessica, no longer has the role she did at the Palms Community Action Coalition.

Yes, the group with the useless website that is on an 18-month time delay.
Don't know whether she gets to keep her city office and resources at the Hepburn Center!

There's still a segment of the local population that believes there's still a fairly good chance that Mayor Cooper will try to make someone else the scapegoat for the many years of chronic mismanagement at the HB CRA that happened under the two previous City Managers while Mayor Cooper and her Rubber Stamp Crew adamantly refused to perform their proper oversight function.
They did nothing to stop what was happening, instead, only encouraged more of it as long as their own political supporters reaped the benefits.

Ask yourself this question: Why is it that in a city this size, it's the same 8-10 people who consistently got their hands on CRA funds when there is so little to show for that money afterwards?

Previously I'd written...

Subject: FYI re Hallandale Beach CRA's annual shell game of ranking groups, per Monday night's CRA meeting at 6 pm. Talk about history repeating itself...

6 pm Agenda at:

Philanthropic oversight group Guidestar's page on Zamar states that their exempt status was 
automatically revoked by the IRS in 2010 for failure to file a Form 990, 990-EZ, 990-N, or 990-PF for 3 consecutive years, so why does the city still treat Zamar like it's tax exempt?

Here's the IRS doc report re Zamar and the Automatic Revocation of Exemption Information:

On fourth page of document, Document 11 - Exhibit 11 - Zamar School of Performing Arts Application, uses a copy of the 2003 IRS form that is no longer valid about the organization.
And nobody at the CRA said anything about this????

Where does Dr. Deborah Brown get off thinking that she can fool taxpayers by including invalid docs from the IRS to try to scrounge up $50,000 from the city, yet again? Or by using docs from the Florida Dept. of State that appear to be seven years old and not current?

Where exactly is their current, properly filled-out 990 Form?

Why is that such a big mystery if they have nothing to hide?

There seems to be no end in sight for this woman getting tens of thousands of
dollars from Hallandale Beach taxpayers every year despite consistently being
less than honest or transparent with them.

And why, despite all the money involved is all this CRA loan information copied and managed
in such a consistently self-evident half-assed fashion that it can NOT be searched for on the
city's website?

Yes, it's hard to shake the impression that some of the staff at Hallandale Beach City hall want taxpayers, their real bosses, to be in the dark and NOT be able to simply look at easy
to understand information so they can connect-the-dots and draw their own conclusions.

How can there be not one but two city employees at the CRA making over $100,000 a year involved in this sorry spectacle of an effort, and yet this is what they present to HB taxpayers with a straight face, as if we should be grateful?
It's still unclear to me what Liza Torress really does and why her salary went up $40k to $100K this past Spring. 

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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'dALREADY 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, theCity 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 forYEARS 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.