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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.

Full Of Keys - Silent Agreement, from the new #GrazingGrounds album

FullofkeysOFFICIAL YouTube Channel: Full Of Keys - Silent Agreement. Uploaded January 9, 2014 http://youtu.be/7yHULYTxEt4 From the second album by Full of Keys (Anni Bernhardt) #grazinggrounds http://www.youtube.com/user/FullofkeysOFFICIAL

Full Of Keys - Cover My Eyes (Stills Video)

Full Of Keys - Cover My Eyes (Stills Video) via Andreas Jismark YouTube Channel. Uploaded February 23, 2014. The 2nd track released from #grazinggrounds album. Full Of Keys 2014. http://youtu.be/aha-pf_QrXo

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

No end in sight for Hallandale Beach's ethical problems with CRA funds: The Palms Community Action Coalition's lack of public transparency -and Murvin Wright's fingers in so many pies- are THE logical result of years of unethical dealings in Hallandale Beach, wherein taxpayer & CRA dollars routinely go out to pals of City Hall, and compliance with laws, common sense and real-world notions of oversight and conflict-of-interest take second place to personal/political gain

October 3rd, 2012 photo by South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved.

Below is a copy of my overdue letter of Tuesday afternoon to Broward Inspector General John W. Scott and his staff about the troubling ethical problems in Hallandale Beach that continue to this day, especially the deceit and deception -and lack of prudent oversight by the city- that has routinely taken place place regarding the issuance of HB CRA funds to so-called community groups.

The only difference from what was sent and what I've got below are that I eliminated the two places where I accidentally repeated a word or two, and removed some excessive wordiness.

You should also know that my October 15th blog post of last year regarding Hallandale Beach's longstanding ethical problems continues to get eyeballs weeks and months later, largely because the facts and truthful accounts I gave here of unethical/criminal behavior by people with power and influence who should know better, resonates with readers in meaningful ways that local TV and print reporters who refuse to report on these matters continue to completely misunderstand and give short shrift to.

That post means something to people close to the scene of the crimes, or who live in towns where similar things occur under the media's nose without mention.
That's why this post has now been seen 23,771 times as of this morning:
Ethics? Not for us! Follow-up to my post re Hallandale Beach's unethical "business as usual" attitude, with "special rules for special people" if they are named Joy Cooper, Bill Julian and Anthony A. Sanders; What ethics? What rules? @MayorCooper, @SandersHB
http://hallandalebeachblog.blogspot.com/2012/10/ethics-not-for-us-follow-up-to-my-post.html

----


February 19, 2013

Dear Mr. Scott:

My letter to you today formally requesting an investigation by your office into the following matters is broken into two parts.

I.  The Hallandale Beach CRA

The preponderance of evidence, via the City of Hallandale Beach's very own reports and documents clearly shows that the The Palms Community Action Coalition's lack of public transparency -and Murvin Wright's fingers in so many pies- are THE logical result of years of unethical dealings in Hallandale Beach, wherein taxpayer & CRA dollars routinely go out to pals of City Hall, and compliance with laws, common sense and real-world notions of oversight and conflict-of-interest take second place to personal/political gain.

Over-and-over, a hazardous even toxic trail of unprofessional and unethical behavior leads right to Hallandale Beach City Hall, with taxpayers and small business owners always paying the high price for City Hall's favoritism and crony capitalism in the form of not just continued incompetency, but wasted time and opportunities, and with little tangible to show for the money spent. 

Mr. Scott, have you seen the city's most recent evaluation report on the Palms Community Action Coalition's request for funding? 
That's a rhetorical question.
Taxpayers haven't, unlike the past two years when it at least appeared on the city's website..

I ask because the many deficiencies of the Palms Community Action CoalitionInc.'s request cited by the city in their 2011 analysis of their request for CRA funding, and the needs of the public for honesty, have NOT been resolved to taxpayers' satisfaction in their 2012 request in the most fundamental way -transparency.

A reasonable person can see that it was NOT because it is readily-apparent by the utter lack of transparency with the community on their own website.
The website advertises itself as the best way fro the community to keep informed about their activities, but they have no activities listed since June of 2011, a fact I have known for well over a year and which I told then-CRA Executive Director Dr. Jackson, Jr. about in a September 2012 email, which was also bcc'd to your office. (See bottom.)

And what has happened in the intervening five months, Mr. Scott, since I showed Dr. Jackson the true facts using the city's own documents?
Nothing.
Nothing has happened.
You and your team can see that for themselves.

Yes, despite there having been being two management people in the city's CRA office and three in the City Manager's office making over $100,000 a year, presumably a sign that they are in some way competent, NONE OF THEM seems to have had any ability or willingness to insist to Murvin Wright and Jessica Sanders that in exchange for the tens of thousands of CRA dollars they and their group have received in the past, to say nothing of getting their very own office on city property at the Hepburn Center -used by Comm. Anthony A. Sanders wife, Jessica- and the use of city personnel and resources, the only group in the city with that "right," the city's taxpayers and residents are entitled to at least some semblance of transparency from this group that explains what they actually do, see a measure of progress, and see just who the Directors and key personnel are, their qualifications, and the salary/fees they receive, if any, for their involvement.

Which is to say, the bare minimum.
But they and the City Commission can't manage that, Mr. Scott, despite my having mentioned it numerous times at City Commission meetings.
The folks at Palms Community Action Coalition, Inc., led by Murvin Wright, don't care about what the public thinks or wants or expects, they just want their money.

"Their money" not really being their money, of course, but they do act 100% entitled to it, and woe to anyone in this city who asks reasonable questions about their activities -or lack of them- at public meetings.
Then, the City commission sycophants jump into action to defend this!

Could you explain how the city's CRA Board of Directors, in the form of the City Commission, would STILL vote to give them funds last year despite the fact that this and other problems were still readily-apparent, and had this very obvious problem that has NEVER BEEN RESOLVED?

THAT should give you some sort of idea of the kind of non-existent oversight the CRA Board of Directors has provided on behalf of taxpayers for many years.
As long as their friends and political supporters received their funds, what the public thought didn't matter.

Can anyone -you perhaps- please explain to me how the person in charge of such a disorganized and unprofessional (so-called non-profit) group, Murvin Wrighta person who is also connected to other groups requesting money from the CRA/city, and with connections to CRA contractors, is able to remain in charge, given such obvious and grievous management and PR mistakes?

But then if you or anyone else could explain THAT, literally, the un-explainable, what would you then be forced to conclude by the preponderance of evidence when you discover that this very same person, Mr. Wright, was also appointed to the city's CRA Advisory Board, the very group that casts a preliminary vote in determining what community groups, if any, receive CRA funds?
Really.

And then, on top of that, you discover who the person is who appointed him in the first place, knowing full-well what his personal and business connections are to the groups, and knows that Mr. Wright is eager to be paid by contractors working for the CRA in at least one respect, with the park in NW Hallandale Beach?
Yes, as if the other already-known conflict-of-interest isn't bad enough and a bitter pill to swallow for the ethical and concerned citizens and residents of this city?

Well, the answer to that question, the very person in this city who is supposed to set the example here for upholding ethical standards, following the law, ensuring public accountability for taxpayers, residents and small business owners, and making sure nothing nefarious is taking place is the mayor, Joy Cooper.

Mayor Cooper is the person who already fully knew Murvin Wright's status as a walking/talking poster boy for conflict-of-interest, and yet went ahead and appointed him to the CRA Advisory Board anyway.

That simple fact should stop you cold, Mr. Scott, and give you and your investigators pause and make very clear how very different from you, me and most people in this city Mayor Cooper's understanding and notions of ethics and proper management is.
She doesn't want to have the highest ethical standards, she merely wants what she wants. 
Period

Even if Mr. Wright recuses himself on votes regarding the Palms Community Action Coalition, logically, he still gets to vote AGAINST their competitors for CRA funds.
That is a self-evident conflict of interest that the City Manager, the City Attorney, the City Commission and the CRA employees have allowed to exist despite the fact that it is NOT in the best financial interests of this city's taxpayers and business owners.

(But then it was me, not them with all their resources, who first discovered the fact that the City of Hallandale Beach has for years been routinely awarding tens of thousands of dollars a year in CRA funds to so-called non-profit groups anyone from the city actually verifying the accuracy of the submitted documents.
For instance, a group that was no longer legally considered by the IRS to be a non-profit, yet they kept taking the city's money for years, anyhow, and had even submitted another for this year. The city acted on the honor system instead of providing the sort of oversight the public expected, with the result that lots of money that could have been better spent flowed-out for years with little to show or it, and with no plans by the groups for their own long-term sustainability.)

And again, it's not like that is the only group seeking CRA funds that Murvin Wright is associated with.
Do you even have a list of the other groups seeking HB CRA funds that Mr. Wright is connected to?
I can tell you that the public doesn't.
Good luck trying to anyone trying to get that information pried-out of the hands of City Hall!

And just so there's no confusion on this point, Mr. Scott, that would be the Murvin Wright who on one city document after another lists his address as the Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church.
A person who is not only supposed to know the difference between right and wrong but to live it, ends up being the mascot for so many things that are ethically and legally nefarious and which have been allowed to exist for many, many years.

I formally invite you and your staff to come to Hallandale Beach tonight and watch as Murvin Wright of the CRA Advisory Board waits to see if his so-called non-profit yet again is foolishly rewarded with tens of thousands of dollars from, yes, the CRA.

Agenda for Tuesday night's CRA meeting starting at 6:30 -lots of VERY questionable items!

II, Ethical and legal problems persist at HB City Hall, and include the following:

Mr. Scott, the proper and state-mandated public noticing of city meetings continues to be a a very serious problem at HB City Hall, despite many years of public complaints.

To cite but two examples from January, the CRA Advsiory Board and Visioning meeting.
The CRA Advisory Board meeting, one that was actually required by a vote of the City Commission at their last meeting in December was not listed on the city's own Meeting Board in the lobby of City Hall moments before the meeting started.
I know because I was going to the meeting and took a photo of the board and the missing notice.

And while many cities seem to be able to reliably get their own meeting notices on their own website without any problem, Hallandale Beach seems to have a major learning curve, as neither meetings were on the city's website, again, even moments before they started.

Even more troublesome ethically is the City Manager and City Commission's shrugged shoulders at being told about it and their cavalier attitude about complying with state law.

You and your staff can see that for yourself if you watch the video of that Visioning meeting, the same one where citizens were NOT allowed to speak for the duration of the eight hours or so it took place.
That is, IF there were any video of the elected City Commission talking about city policies and spending money for so very long.
But there isn't.

Instead, there's just the memory in everyone heads who attended of the City Manager indignantly insisting that the information was there and twice, the City Clerk checking the city's website on her computer at the dais and saying that it wasn't, and the elected City Commission -save one member, Comm. Michele Lazarow, who who brought the matter up- acting like it didn't matter at all to them, and that they almost resented it even being brought up.

That's the reality of living in this city, Mr. Scott, not at all like the lofty ideas on public participation and outreach in a book on public administration.

Another completely unacceptable situation is that the city's "Current List of Registered Lobbyists" is 48 weeks oldand has not been updated since March 16th of LAST YEAR, which is to say many months prior to the very controversial Beachwalk tower development project/city-giveaway was voted upon and approved while the majority of the residents in the neighborhood most directly-affected by it were out-of-town in August.
Yes, that's how they do things here, Mr. Scott

Tell me, does 48-week old information sound like the City of Hallandale Beach and its elected leaders and high-priced staff is following the letter and spirit of the law to you, Mr. Scott?
It doesn't to me and many people I know in this city.

Additionally, the Lobbyist/Visitor contact list on the city's website
http://www.cohb.org/index.aspx?NID=835 that is supposed to give Hallandale Beach citizens a reasonable degree of transparency regarding who is visiting whom at City Hall, does NOT currently work.
How many months has it not been there as legally required?


Elected Official Requirements

Section 3(c), to further promote full and complete transparency, Elected Officials must disclose any and all lobbying activity that knowingly occurs between themselves and individual lobbyits or their rprincipals or employers outside their governments offices/premises.  This shall include communicating by any form of telephonic or electronic media.


  1. The disclosure shall include the lobbyist's name; the name of the entity by which the lobbyist is employed; the name of the person or entity for whom or which he or she is lobbying; the date, time and location of the meeting; and the specific purpose and subject matter of the meeting. 
  2. The disclosure shall be made within ten (10) business days of the lobbying activity, but must, in any event, be made prior to
    any vote on a matter that was the subject of the lobbying activity.
  3. The dislclosue shall be filed for public inspection.  


Instead, when you go to http://www.cohb.org/DocumentCenter/View/2253 you get:

We're sorry, but there is not a web page matching your entry.
You entered: www.cohb.org/DocumentCenter/View/2253
Click here to go to the home page 
It is possible that you typed the address incorrectly, or that the page no longer exists. 


How many months has this been the case?
I can tell you that it has been several months, but it could even be MUCH further back than that.
Mr. Scott, does that sound anything at all like a city that is actively trying to do what is both legally required and what is in the best interests of its citizens to you?
It doesn't to me.
Not by a long shot.

The three key transparency tools that the public counts on to be able to have any degree of trust in the city, ones that are mandated by law, and yet all three are effectively broken in this city where citizens constantly take it on the chin when trying to simply get what they are legally entitled to: access to relevant public information in a timely fashion.

It looks to me like you and your investigators have a LOT more work ahead of you in Hallandale Beach, and that's just part of the iceberg.
There's a lot more...

At the Broward League of Women Voters luncheon meeting in Coconut Creek that you spoke at last month, which I and four very concerned friends and civic activists from Hallandale Beach attended, I was going to suggest to you in the strongest possible terms that for all your talk about public outreach at various places around the county, anything less than a public appearance by you, very soon, in this corrupt and poorly-managed city, to answer the reasonable questions of the people who are most effected by the dysfunctional culture of corruption here, is wholly unsatisfactory.
A field hearing.

Your talks to the LWV and other high-minded civic groups are fine, there's obviously a place for that, but you and your staff need to fully understand and appreciate that the beleaguered citizens of this community actually need to see you walk the walk, not just talk the talk.
And to do it here in-person in Hallandale Beach.

FYI: I filmed your remarks at the meeting and the subsequent Q&A and plan on uploading some of it to my YouTube Channel this weekend.

-----

That letter to Dr. Jackson from last year

Some comments & questions about trustworthiness and transparency in the Hallandale Beach CRA budget - we require stricter reporting standards and more effort at openness


9/12/12
to AlvinReneeSheena
September 12, 2012

Dear Dr. Jackson:

I have some questions and comments on my mind the day the CRA's 2013 budget
goes final, one way or the other, which I hope you will be able to address tonight,
if possible.

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Northwest Hallandale Beach, that is,
the area of the city west of Dixie Highway and north of Hallandale Beach Blvd.,
comprises only 13% of the city's entire population, albeit, a larger percentage
of the population of the CRA itself.

Does your office have the numbers that indicate what the percentage of the CRA's
total (non-personnel) budget that goes to NW Hallandale Beach and what are the
percentages of the other parts of the city served by the CRA and their respective
percentages?

I've stated repeatedly at one public meeting after anothee for the past few years
-including one this past Spring when I asked you some questions- that with
the costs of a website are well within everyone's budget, or even free, why is it that
in the year 2012, there are Hallandale Beach groups and organizations that currently
receive loans, grants or funds from the HB CRA unable or unwilling to create
a website that could more accurately depict the activities they engage in, who
runs it on a daily basis, who comprises the Board of Directors, when and where
are their public meetings, and with copies of or links to updated docs re their
non-profit status from the IRS or the state of Florida  Secretary of State, like
Form 990's, available to Hallandale Beach taxpayers and the concerned public?

Are you or your assistants in a position to publicly explain to taxpayers why they
should trust organizations that refuse to be transparent and refuse to create a
website despite years of receiving public funds via grants, loans or CRA dollars?

Are you or your assistants in a position to publicly name any parties that have
specifically told you that they will NOT create a website to accomplish this goal
of openness?

Do you believe that it is appropriate or a good policy for a small city like Hallandale
Beach to allow so many of the same names and faces to be involved in either a
management or Board of Directors position on multiple organizations receiving
taxpayer or CRA funds, esp. ones that have no tangible long-term funding sources
other than the city?

That does NOT seem like a good idea to me.
I think it'd be better that those groups try to aggressively recruit retired business execs
in this city who actually have a track record than to continue placing people, however
well-meaning, who have no business experience whatsoever.
Decisions need to be based on reality, not hopes.

Where, exactly, are all the owners of HB businesses that already exist, whether
successful or middling, located in and around Dixie Highway at CRA meetings?
I never see any of them -EVER.

Why aren't you and your staff doing everything in your power to get them to attend
the CRA meetings to add their perspective, since shouldn't they have as much say
in what is going on -or isn't- in their own neighborhood as people or groups who are
asking for a handout from the city?

Most people in this city would say that those particular business owners should 
probably have MORE say-so, not less, than groups without a long-term financial
sustainability plan.

Especially since they at least have some skin in the game and have actually expended
their own money and energy to try to make a go of it, not the CRA's money.

And speaking of the business community, where, exactly, is the taxpayer-subsidized
HB Chamber of Commerce and Patricia Genetti in all of this?
Why isn't she helping you try to get these current business owners on Dixie or 1st Avenue
more involved?
Why isn't she helping you lead an effort to get all the businesses located on Pembroke
Road from I-95 to U.S.-1 -esp. the car dealerships- on the Internet? 

Especially since Google is offering free websites for a year to Florida businesses?

(By the way, personally, I don't think it helps the reputation of the HB Chamber
one bit that its number-one employee, Genetti,  and its elected President, both
live outside of the city. That's not something worth bragging about.)

In all the years that I have been going to public meetings in HB and which Genetti had
been on the scene, maybe I'm wrong, but I have NO recollection of her ever being
present at a CRA meeting and recognizing that it has a role it ought to be playing
but is, instead, sitting on the sidelines.
Why?

In my opinion, we simply don't have enough resources to be in the position of wasting them

To me and many other observers, Dr. Jackson, after all these years, it's hard to shake
the notion that there exists a small handful of myopic people in NW HB who are intent 
on trying to get a disproportionate share of the CRA budget, recreate/control the area
in their own image(s), and trying to decide who gets money and who doesn't, when the
question might be better asked, what should it get, if anything, and why is placing something
-money or resources- there necessarily better than placing it somewhere else within the
CRA zone that has more geographical or physical road advantages that would get more
actual paying customers and make it successful?

Below is a slightly-modified excerpt from an email I sent two weeks ago that also gets to
some concerns that many people I know have:

re the Palms Community Action Coalition, the group that is apparently so important
that of all the non-profits in the city, Mayor Cooper and the majority of the City 
Commission said they must have an office at the city's Hepburn Center.

So, can you tell me what they do they do, who its Board Members are, and what do
they do, exactly, that's different than what the city or another non-profit is already doing?
They can't really say.

Check out their scatter-brained website, and specifically, their website says under their
"About us" menu. It reveals nothing.
About Us
If you have not already done so, please join our mailing list so that you are the first to now about upcoming events, new projects and all the ways that you and your family can benefit from our organization. Our Calendar will have the latest events so please be sure to check the calendar often, as well as your inbox.
The Palms Community Action Coalition is currently teamed with over 60 companies and organizations to help bring a change to our community that will help make each and everyday brighter. Feel free to visit them on our site or their individual sites for more information about what they can do for you.

But what do you find when you go to their calendar?

Well, as of midnight August 28, 2012, it's chock full of info about what they were
doing -supposedly- in June of 2011.

(Dr. Jackson: It still says the same thing today on September 12th June 2011.
How could your staff be completely unaware of this, since it indicates not
only bad management at the group, itself, but their inability to do the one
thing it promises -that the calendar will indeed be their the public face 
to the public? How can anyone have any trust in them now?)

Don't believe me?
Look for yourself at the screen-grab I just did of their website's calendar page.
It speaks volumes!



It all seems so full of vague terms and generalities about them and their activities
throughout the website.
It also calls into serious question why they are getting ANY money from the city
if they are so mismanaged under Jessica Sanders that they/she can't so much
as keep an updated calendar of their own activities.
Kids in junior high school can do it for their after-school clubs/sports team
practices, so why can't she?  

And tell me again why she needs to have an office on city property and the
ability to use city personnel and city resources?
It's all very, very curious.

Eagle’s Wings Development Center requested $70,000 but received $35,000
Lampkin’s Creative Arts 4 All requested $58,300 but received $10,000

All information below is verbatim from city documents with cited URLs.
Warning, the city's URL loads slowly, so be patient!
---------------------

Eagle’s Wings Development Center 
416 N.W. 4th Avenue
Hallandale Beach, FL 33008 

From CITY OF HALLANDALE BEACH FY 2012 COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIP PROGRAMS GRANT REVIEW PACKAGE
Exhibit G-1


NAME OF ORGANIZATION  Eaqles Wings 

GROUP  DATE-  24,2011 

TOTAL COMBINED SCORE  396/500  

RECOMMENDED FUNDING  $35,000 

GROUP COMMENTS 
The applicant submitted an application, however it lacked some of the required attachment documentation (i.e certificate of insurance, letters of support or MOU) and detail. The applicant requested funding for an employment program to train individuals to become Certified Nurses Assistants (CNA) as the priority area.
There was confusion regarding the increase of requested funds for a smaller number of people to be served versus the amount of funding given by the City previously. The new request is for $55,000 more dollars to serve 90% less people  The thought is this may be due to the new CNA program. The reviewers agreed there is a need for employment  in the identified area; however the application did not provide enough detail on the implementation strategies. It was difficult to determine what portion of personnel would be providing the training program (CNA). It was also unclear who would actually provide the services. The applicant did not identify vendor, agency, or entity that would provide training, and there were no letters of support except Weed and Seed for the project. The applicant Sustainability Plan only indicated the loss of funds from Weed and Seed, therefore if not funded the organization could no longer  provide support for their programs. The reviewers felt this organization had not demonstrated a plan for sustainability. The committee recommended, in review of the budget, that items related to training and support for clients should be funded; thereby reducing request to $35,000 to cover those costs.

-----

Lampkin’s Creative Arts 4 All 
222 S. Dixie Highway 
Hallandale Bch, FL 33009 

From CITY OF HALLANDALE BEACH FY 2012 COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIP PROGRAMS GRANT REVIEW PACKAGE
Exhibit G-1

NAME OF ORGANIZATION  Lampkins Creative Arts 4 All 

GROUP  DATE  May 24,201 1 

TOTAL COMBINED SCORE  293/500  

RECOMMENDED FUNDING  $ 10,000 

GROUP COMMENTS 
The applicant has been known for providing free music and cultural arts programs for other 
community groups in Hallandale Beach. The request is to expand services; however the 
committee's assessment is that this organization appears to be new and should acquire 
assistance with program development. 
The applicant did not provide background information or description of current services. The 
application was confusing because the program description and the implementation strategy did not coincide. It was difficult for reviewers to determine how the program would be implemented and survive. The applicant did not provide a clear referral or recruitment strategy. The applicant was very broad with scope of who would be served and reviewers felt that given a program of this nature, the organization needs to be more specific about the target population. The evaluation plan is vague and does not provide any type of plan to ensure the desired outcomes. It should be noted that this applicant was provided an opportunity to resubmit the application. 
The committee feels this is more recommend $10,000 in grant funding to be used for basic
operating costs (facility, consultant, equipment, supplies).


I have also copied the following for you to peruse and review.
I think it is exactly what we should have here in Hallandale Beach.


------------------

The Washington Post
Prince William changes how it will fund nonprofit groups
By Jeremy Borden, 
Published: August 26, 2012

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Joe Gibbons & Parker Plaza

Hallandale Beach Blog

Hallandale Beach Blog
Hallandale Beach Blog/South Beach Hoosier's crimson-colored Indiana University cap. If you see someone at a South Florida govt. meeting or public policy discussion wearing this IU cap, scribbling notes furiously -and shaking his head in disbelief- don't be afraid to come over and say hello or pitch prospective story ideas. Photo by South Beach Hoosier. Move your mouse over the cap and be sent to the IU Athletic Dept.'s YouTube Channel.

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.
____________________________________________
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.
"And David put his hand in the bag and took out a stone and slung it. And it struck the Philistine on the head and he fell to the ground. Amen."- Preacher Purl encouraging the underdog Hickory High basketball team before the state title game against heavily-favored South Bend Central in 1986's Hoosiers
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0091217/
Audio of pregame speech:
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Paradise Lost? South Florida

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

Ordinary people can make a difference in fight against corruption in Broward County

The next time you hear someone in Broward County, like one of the usual "experts" or pundits or maybe a self-interested lobbyist like Joy Cooper's supercilious pal Judy Stern repeat the Conventional Wisdom that nobody really cares about ethical behavior, transparency and accountability in Broward cities, except a handful of people, just keep this in mind.
As of March 6, 2014 at 12:30 p.m., in the 71 weeks since I first wrote my October 15th 2012 post titled, "Ethics? Not for us! Follow-up to my post re Hallandale Beach's unethical "business as usual" attitude, with "special rules for special people" if they are named Joy Cooper, Bill Julian and Anthony A. Sanders; What ethics? What rules? @MayorCooper, @SandersHB" it's been viewed 85525 times. That's MORE than a thousand page views a week! Imagine that!
That total doesn't even include the number of people who saw it the day it was first posted, when it was the default post of the blog. That's a lot of people who now know a lot more facts about the truth regarding the corruption and incompetency that have been commonplace in Hallandale Beach all these years while Broward State's Attorney Mike Satz and his staff did NOTHING. Just saying...
The South Florida I Grew Up In
Excerpted from Joan Didion's Miami, 1987, Simon & Schuster:
In the continuing opera still called, even by Cubans who have now lived the largest part of their lives in this country, el exilo, the exile, meetings at private homes in Miami Beach are seen to have consequences. The actions of individuals are seen to affect events directly. Revolutions and counter-revolutions are framed in the private sector, and the state security apparatus exists exclusively to be enlisted by one or another private player. That this particular political style, indigenous to the Caribbean and to Central America, has now been naturalized in the United States is one reason why, on the flat coastal swamps of South Florida, where the palmettos once blew over the detritus of a dozen failed booms and the hotels were boarded up six months a year, there has evolved since the early New Year's morning in 1959 when Fulgencio Batista flew for the last time out of Havana a settlement of considerable interest, not exactly an American city as American cities have until recently been understood but a tropical capital: long on rumor, short on memory, overbuilt on the chimera of runaway money and referring not to New York or Boston or Los Angeles or Atlanta but to Caracas and Mexico, to Havana and to Bogota and to Paris and Madrid. Of American cities Miami has since 1959 connected only to Washington, which is the peculiarity of both places, and increasingly the warp...

"The general wildness, the eternal labyrinths of waters and marshes, interlocked and apparently neverending; the whole surrounded by interminable swamps... Here I am then in the Floridas, thought I," John James Audobon wrote to the editor of The Monthly American Journal of Geology and Natural Science during the course of an 1831 foray in the territory then still called the Floridas. The place came first, and to touch down there is to begin to understand why at least six administrations now have found South Florida so fecund a colony. I never passed through security for a flight to Miami without experiencing a certain weightlessness, the heightened wariness of having left the developed world for a more fluid atmosphere, one in which the native distrust of extreme possibilities that tended to ground the temperate United States in an obeisance to democratic institutions seemed rooted, if at all, only shallowly. At the gate for such flights the preferred language was already Spanish. Delays were explained by weather in Panama. The very names of the scheduled destinations suggested a world in which many evangelical inclinations had historically been accommodated, many yearnings toward empire indulged...

In this mood Miami seemed not a city at all but a tale, a romance of the tropics, a kind of waking dream in which any possibility could and would be accommodated...

Nice from a distance, not so nice once you're there and see the years of City Hall's neglect

Nice from a distance, not so nice once you're there and see the years of City Hall's neglect
The public beach that is "North Beach" in Hallandale Beach, FL. June 19, 2012 photo by South Beach Hoosier.© 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved

So this is where our tax dollars go to die?

"So this is where our tax dollars go to die? My friend and fellow civic activist Csaba Kulin, perhaps wondering when we're FINALLY going to get the clean and inviting public beach that Hallandale Beach residents believe we're entitled to but have never received under Mayor Cooper and her Rubber Stamp Crew.
Instead, we get rusty pipes in the middle of the beach and garbage cans on the beach -without lids- at the windiest place in the entire city. And a public building across the street from the beach that the public can't use for free but which city employees can -for their holiday parties." Click photo to see many more photos of the site and the original post, or http://hallandalebeachblog.blogspot.com/2012/06/latest-info-photos-re-related-groups.html; 2012 photo by South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved

Just as true now as it was when it was written in June 2012!

The View from the Hallandale Beach/Hollywood city line

The View from the Hallandale Beach/Hollywood city line
Looking south towards The Beach Club and the Hallandale Beach Water Tower on A1A from the beach, near the Hollywood cityline, May 2, 2009 photo by South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved

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.

Hallandale Beach. Actually, it's a city of gross incompetency, red-tape & myopia

Hallandale Beach. Actually, it's a city of gross incompetency, red-tape & myopia
Hallandale Beach, City of Choice. Hallandale Beach.Hallandale Beach, City of Choice. The monument sign that greets northbound drivers on U.S.-1/South Federal Hwy. at the gateway into the city as they leave the City of Aventura and Miami-Dade County in the rear window, on one of the three main streets into Hallandale Beach. Unfortunately, it's the perfect metaphor for the City of Hallandale Beach and its elected officials and employees the past 10 years: myopic and lacking in common sense. This sign, five blocks south of City Hall, was originally placed so far west on the median strip -and practically BEHIND a palm tree- that drivers actually COULDN'T actually read it even if they wanted to. In any case, because of the city's longtime gross incompetency, negligence and lack of appropriate oversight, the spotlights that were supposed to illuminate the sign at night HAVEN'T worked since about mid-January of 2004. Which is to say, yes, MUCH LONGER than the U.S.'s involvement in WW II. Welcome to the City of Hallandale Beach! Begin heavy traffic, chronic red tape and mis-adventures in government! My original photo here on the blog of this situation was taken January 2007; this one was taken May 8, 2008; photo by South Beach Hoosier. The three palm trees that had been in front of it on the median that obstructed it for so long have come and gone, with the result that for a few years you couldn't help but notice that it DIDN'T work! In February of 2009, in order to make room for a southbound left-turning lane at S.E. 5th Street into The Village of Gulfstream retail complex, the 'invisible' sign was removed and placed farther north on the median. For more than a year, despite a solar panel nearby, there were no actual light fixtures present! As of March 11, 2014, if you can believe this, with a new expensive street-lighting project along the median of U.S.-1 finally finished, where recently-planted trees now have lights shining on branches -as if that meant anything- guess what? Despite another nearby solar unit, there are STILL zero actual light fixtures pointed at the sign! ZERO! Correct, all these years and tax dollars later, the City of Hallandale Beach is STILL unable to figure out how to light this sign on the busiest street in the city at its southern gateway. Yet another sign of the ruinous reign of Mayor Joy Cooper. No attention to detail! © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved

Looking east on State Road 858/Hallandale Beach Blvd.

Looking east  on State Road 858/Hallandale Beach Blvd.
Looking east on State Road 858/Hallandale Beach Blvd., over the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway bridge, toward the iconic Hallandale Beach Water Tower and the three condo towers comprising The Beach Club. September 8, 2008 photo by South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved

Political Actions Speak Louder Than Words: Lies of Mayor Joy Cooper and City Manager Mike Good

Political Actions Speak Louder Than Words: Lies of Mayor Joy Cooper and City Manager Mike Good
Political Actions Speak Louder Than Words: Lies of Mayor Joy Cooper and former City Manager Mike Good. March 3, 2009 photo by South Beach Hoosier, This photo was taken just days before the Air Supply fundraising/concert on the beach, as Hallandale Beach DPW employees try to make the area "appear" to be well-maintained -when in reality, it hadn't been properly maintained -and thus fool HB taxpayers and visitors alike. This building underneath the city's iconic Water Tower, just steps from both the Atlantic Ocean and State Road A1A, was given to the City of Hallandale Beach for free by The Related Group on August 3rd, 2007, and yet STILL remained OFF-LIMITS to everyday HB citizens, taxpayers and residents, the true "owners" of the building, until July of 2010, 35 MONTHS later. As of April 15, 2013, there hasn't been a single public forum held by the city dedicated to gauging how citizens want to utilize it best. That's because the community wants to actually be able to use THEIR OWN facility, while the city prefers keeping it locked-up, or as currently, rented out to The Realted Group to use as a model for their Beachwall development. Even worse, for years, the building remained a veritable clubhouse for the cronies and pals of HB City Hall's elected officials and city employees, who get to use it for free. And for many separate periods of time, often six months, the city couldn't even manage to keep an American flag on the city flagpole next to the fountain, even on Holiday. Like MLK day in 2012, among several others. Once again, HB City Hall & DPW shows their gross incompetency by being unable to manage something as simple as keeping a flag flying. Pathetic! © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved

Hallandale Beach Water Tower on A1A/South Ocean Drive

Hallandale Beach Water Tower on A1A/South Ocean Drive
Hallandale Beach Water Tower on A1A/South Ocean Drive. Located below the Hallandale Beach Water Tower on A1A/South Ocean Drive, on the south side (right) is the "Community Center" that HB City Hall, thru their gross incompetency, has made impossible for HB citizen taxpayers to use now for 41 MONTHS as of January 2011. (And where's the American flag on the Fourth of July weekend? Missing in action as it had been for months!) July 3, 2009 photo by South Beach Hoosier. © 2012 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved

Looking towards southern Hollywood Beach

Looking towards southern Hollywood Beach
Trump Hollywood, Diplomat Residences, Westin Diplomat, Crowne Resort. Looking NE towards Hollywood on State Road A1A from the 2500 block of East Hallandale Beach Blvd./State Road 858 just before crossing the Intracoastal Bridge: (l-r) Trump Hollywood, Diplomat Residences, the Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa, the Crowne Plaza Hollywood Beach. March 25, 2009 photo by South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved

The Related Group's The Beach Club, consisting of three condo towers

The Related Group's The Beach Club, consisting of three condo towers
The Beach Club. Looking SE at The Beach Club from the Hollywood side of State Road A1A. May 12, 2008 photo by South Beach Hoosier. © 2012 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved

City of Hollywood City Hall, 2600 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, FL

City of Hollywood City Hall, 2600 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, FL
City of Hollywood City Hall. An early morning shot of the east side of Hollywood City Hall the morning of the Johnson Street Redevelopment RFP Evaluation Committee meeting, where presentations were heard; October 14, 2009 photo by South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved. For more info on what's going on with this important project, see http://www.hollywoodfl.org/html/JohnsonStBeachRFP.htm

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

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

Championship banners

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.
Perhaps you'll enjoy this view more!

We Are IU (Official Version) 2013

Let's end the 27-year NCAA title drought!

Let's end the 27-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.

Here's the first banner of the Crean Era

Our five NCAA Basketball Championship banners are on the north side of the court; I was there for 1981's.