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.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Public corruption & incompetency hiding in plain sight - The Hallandale Beach CRA and its Exec. Director, Alvin Jackson, along with CRA "Directors" like Alexander Lewy, show their true colors -yet again! One thinks he's above the law and the other one wants to ignore the law on how CRAs operate; Broward Bulldog: Broward IG says Hallandale made “immense” gaffe in overseeing $12.7 million in city bonds; @AlexLewy, @SandersHB

The following information and anecdotes about some of the the inner-workings of the Hallandale Beach CRA comes mostly from an email of mine that went out over the transom on November 23rd to about 250-300 interested parties in the area.
I've been keeping it in cold storage until an opportune time like today came to post it on the blog, given that the city's final CRA meeting of the year is coming up Monday night at 6 p.m., including the final determination over how much certain groups will receive from the city.

After first reading this bit of news when it first came out a few days ago, I consciously decided NOT to ruin everyone's Thanksgiving Day mood by sharing it then.
But today's another day, so I'm sharing it now so that you're aware of what's really been happening here in Hallandale Beach with city-controlled funds that are supposed to be used to eliminate blight and create jobs, but instead are being used to... well, there's the problem in a nutshell.

Broward Bulldog: Broward IG says Hallandale made “immense” gaffe in overseeing $12.7 million in city bonds

As dumbfounding as it may sound to all of us who closely follow what happens in this city, it looks like the Hallandale Beach CRA and its Director, Alvin Jackson, have once again shown their true colors -yet again!
Another black eye for Hallandale Beach -to add to the growing collection.

At some point, after all the highly questionable things that Dr. Jackson has said and done and approved the past two years to make clear that he will only give lip service to the notions of genuine transparency and honesty in govt. that we all want in this city -for instance, Dr. Jackson illegally giving himself bonus that was NOT legally authorized by the elected City Commission, and then, them finding out about it after-the-fact!- those of you who naively cling to the faint hope that he will prove to be a reformer, and wants only what is best for this city's residents, taxpayers and small business owners, will have to accept the fact that by any reasonable and objective measure, the preponderance of evidence to date suggests  that he's NOT a reformer.

That evidence shows that he will do little to stop the CRA from continuing to be used as a handy ATM by the Hallandale Beach City Commission to siphon away funds for the use of their connected friends and pals via crony capitalism.

That is to say, their well-connected friends and associates in the community, who then produce few tangible results with those funds for the community's benefit or which reduce blight.
And yet unsatisfactory performance doesn't seem to prevent them from being given funds all over again, does it? 

As I've stated for many months, including via letters to Dr. Jackson himself, letters that I've shared with many of you and have posted onto my blog for all  to see, the reality for us here in Hallandale Beach is that we continue to see groups receive the city's CRA money with few positive results to point to, and just as bad, with little in the way of either genuine transparency or public explanation from these groups to the citizens of this community about how that money is really being spent.

Furthermore, as I stated to Dr. Jackson in those letters then and re-state to you now via this email, the best example of this continues to be The Palms Community Action Coalition, run by Jessica Sanders, wife of Comm. Anthony A. Sanders, wherein she is the only non city employee with an office anywhere in the city, over at the Hepburn Center.
And yet month after month the city's CRA's officials seem to be unable to summon the honesty or courage to tell her that she is NOT performing up to standards when it comes to keeping the public informed about what is happening with their dollards once she gets her hands on them. 

This particular group asks us as Hallandale Beach residents, taxpayers and small business owners to take them seriously, though nowhere on their own  website do they actually state with any specificity what they actually do.
Shouldn't we actually know what that is by now?

The sad truth is that if you read the city's own documents, as I have, it seems that group's main function is to be a public cheerleading squad for HB City Hall.
How exactly does that reduce blight? 

We are told on the Coalition's website that the best way to keep up with them is to look at their website's calendar of activities, but what do you see when you do just that?
Yes, you see the very same thing I told you about many months ago during the summer.
Their own website's calendar of activities is for June of 2011 -almost exactly 18 months ago.

The Broward Bulldog article I link to below only proves how very true and sordid our reality continues to STILL be with respect to both Dr. Jackson ignoring what is right in front of him -and all of us- and the behavior and conduct of the HB City Commission in their separate role as the CRA's Board of Directors.

That said, don't think that people who matter haven't already picked up on the fact that the HB City Commission is unrepentant for its past illegal actions and sins while wearing those Director hats at the CRA.
That message is sort of hard to miss when we've witnessed the City Commission collectively, and via individual members, directly challenge the legal authority of the Broward County Inspector General.

And we are given new evidence everyday, witness Comm. Alexander Lewy's continual denunciation of the independent auditor that the city hired to find out what really happened with over a million dollars that were to be spent on the Peter Deutsch land purchase on NE 8th Avenue for a city park, given that the city itself COULDN'T explain it (or why no one involved with the deal at City Hall was appropriately punished), as well as Comm. Lewy's repeated ridiculous public assertions that all funds from the city's CRA should be spent
ONLY in NW Hallandale Beach, not within the entire CRA district as legally proscribed, which encompasses several other parts of this city which are to receive funds to end blight and create jobs.

You don't have to be a legal expert to know that when the Florida legislature initially drew-up its enabling CRA legislation years ago that allowed communities to set up CRAs, it didn't intend for collected funds to be used only in one part of the CRA, nor for it to be used like a slush fund for the politically-favored.

Comm. Lewy's comments are both appalling and yet typical of the small-minded parochialism that he has repeatedly shown andn injected into the CRA -don't forget Lewy's post-Midnight attempt at a 2011 City Commission meeting to funnel over $200,000 to Comm. Sanders and his wife's Eagle's Wings organization, without Lewy saying the group's name publicly!- and deserve to receive the sort of public ridicule and contempt that such foolishness and contempt for taxpayers and common sense deserve.

(But Lewy is unconcerned about your indignant scorn, he's busy looking out for #1.
He does this by nakedly attempting to use his control over CRA funds to garner support for himself, and votes in NW HB for himself in 2014.)

Why should small businesses in other parts of the affected CRA not simply sue Lewy and the city and get court order requiring city to follow state law or risk losing control of the CRA entirely by naming trustees?

If we want genuine financial accountability and fidelity to the Florida constitution in this city, we are going to have to publicly stand up and ask for it from some law enforcement professionals who really want to enforce the laws, not continue to ignore them.
We already know who the latter are -they've long since proven their uselessness to the citizens of this community.

Next week, I'll be making that visit to the FBI field office in North Miami Beach that I originally mentioned to some of you recently, since it couldn't be clearer to me and so many of you that the Broward State's Attorney's office is NOT going to stop their longstanding and destructive sleepwalking routine.
A routine of indifference that has caused all of us years of unnecessary problems by allowing state, county and city laws to be broken with both regularity and impunity at Hallandale Beach City Hall.

I'll be posting this to my blog on Saturday morning, since at this point, it's important that everyone in the community who's the least bit curious, know full well that in Hallandale Beach, we STILL have highly-paid city employees as well as elected officials who are so disconnected from reality as to believe that they are above the law.
Me, I think they're NOT.

As it turns out, of course, I didn't post the email then, but I'm posting it now because Monday night is the Hallandale Beach CRA's annual shell game of ranking groups, per the CRA meeting at 6 pm. 
Talk about history repeating itself...
make sure you make plans to be here to watch this spectacle

6 pm Agenda at:

Item#9.A. - Community Grants Partnership Ranking & Recommended Funding from the HBCRA Citizens Advisory Committee

One of the usual targets of my ire on this blog, and for good and justified reasons, has been Zamar, Inc.
The leading 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 the fourth page of this document, Document 11 - Exhibit 11 of the Zamar School of Performing Arts application to the city, they use a copy of the 2003 IRS form that is no longer valid about this organization.
And what, 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 Dr. Jackson and Liza Torres of the CRA office want Hallandale Beach 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 -Jackson and Torresinvolved 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 all be grateful?
With documents missing basic information?

Don't hold your breath thinking the beat reporters from the Herald or the Sun-Sentinel will look into any of this.
Like asking Dr. Brown for an interview so she can finally explain straight away just what taxpayers of this city have to show for all the money they've given her.

No, that sort of basic reporting is not their style, and answering questions is not Dr. Brown's, who last time I heard her name, was getting into a fight on Election Day over the polls at Ingalls Parks that required the Police to send a police car to break it up.

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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