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.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Csaba Kulin sounds the alarm over Hallandale Beach City Hall's aggressive attempts to prevent HB citizens from knowing just how much taxpayers will be paying the Police under their new union contract and how they arrived at those figures; HB City Commission's First Reading on this item is tonight at 6:30 p.m.; decision on waiver of $450k in fines owed by Florida East Coast Realty to be decided tonight

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Today, courtesy of an email from my friend and fellow Hallandale Beach and Broward County civic activist Csaba Kulin to City of Hallandale Beach Attorney V. Lynn Whitfield, City Manager Renee C. Miller, City Clerk Sheena James and the five members of the HB City Commission, plus others,  I have some amazing information to share with you regarding Hallandale Beach City Hall's aggressive attempts to prevent HB citizens  from knowing just how much taxpayers will be paying the Police under their new union contract, and how  they arrived at those figures. As per usual, I've deleted the email addresses for obvious reasons.

Also on tonight's agenda, 
will be the continuing debacle of a real estate developer trying to get out of paying $450,000 in fines it owes HB taxpayers, namely, Jerome Hollo and Florida East Coast Realty and its property next to the Mardi Gras on U.S.-1, which I've previously discussed here at the blog

You need to show-up and let your voice be heard -no handout$ to developers with no tangible plans to do anything with land but let it sit idle.

HB City Commission meets tonight at 6:30 p.m.


March 19, 2013
Dear City Manager Mrs. Miller, City Clerk Mrs. James and City Attorney Ms. Whitfield:
The printed Agenda of the City of Hallandale Beach's City Commission meeting for March 20, 2013 at 6:30 PM lists item #14-B as Resolution to Ratify a Collective Bargaining Agreement between the Hallandale Beach and the Broward County Police Benevolent Association.
In reading the Supporting Documents of Item 14-B, I noticed that a part of the Agreement refers to modifications, i.e. additions to the existing and new pension systems.

The Florida Constitution and Florida Statutes (Exhibit 1) explicitly require an “actuarial review, and has furnished a copy of such statement to the division” prior to the last public hearing on retirement systems benefit changes.

I submitted a Public Record Request (Exhibit 2) on March 7, 2013 to inspect ALL actuarial reviews -and have reason to believe there is more than one- related to the current pension changes to see if the changes are being made on a sound actuarial basis. Taxpayer dollars paid for the report and taxpayers have a legal right under the Florida Constitution to see the public information BEFORE a vote of the City Commission is made, to ensure that the city is being diligent and following applicable state laws.

Exhibit 3 is the response I received from Mr. George Amiraian, the City of Hallandale Beach's Director of Human Resources on March 15th, 2013.
Item 1 of Mr. Amiraian’s e-mail refers to an Annual Actuarial Report prepared for an entirely different purpose, NOT for the current pension changes.In Item 2 of Mr. Amiraian’s e-mail he makes the claim that the City of Hallandale Beach is “exempt from public records disclosure” on account of ongoing negotiations with the Hallandale Beach Fire Dept., a separate unit, and for which a separate Annual Actuarial Report will eventually be provided to the city for their specific use in THOSE negotiations, a fact that Mr. Amiraian knows well, since he is a person who has been directly dealing with these issues for many years.

The claim of immunity would thus seem to be false because one Actuarial Report has nothing to do with another legally-mandated, taxpayer-paid for Actuarial Report, otherwise, there would be no need for the city to eventually receive a second Actuarial Report at the appropriate time that deals exclusively with HBFD. This is yet another fact well-known to Mr. Amiraian.

Since I attended the February 25, 2013 meeting of the Hallandale Beach Police and Firefighters’ Personnel Retirement Trust and Mr. Adam Levinson reported on the “Ratification of Actuarial Study Regarding Proposed Police CBA”. Mr. Adam Levinson, attorney representing the Trust, told me after the meeting that the “Actuarial Study” is a public document as of that time.

There was a mention that there are two additional Actuarial Reports, but they are not public records as of February 25, 2013. Further evidence of an existing Actuarial Report is the City Manager’s reference to the total dollar amount of savings without any detail as how she arrived at that number.  I'd like for you to review the entire issue of immunity in this case and notify me in a timely fashion why the City of Hallandale Beach is NOT required to adhere to the current applicable Florida state laws.

Additionally, I'd like for you to explain to me why the official “Actuarial Study” is NOT part of the publicly-disclosed "Supporting Documents" available to the public in sufficient time BEFORE Wednesday night's City Commission meeting to analyze its financial impact on their city's futures, since it's THE most-germane document there is. http://www.hallandalebeachfl.gov/files/2013-03-20/Item%2014B/index.html

I believe I'm being entirely consistent when I insist that the citizens of this city have the right under Florida's Constitution to know ALL the pertinent facts in this important matter and know exactly much money the elected City Commission will be spending as well as how they will be making allowances for those particular costs in the future. In short, show the public how those specific costs figures were arrived at.

They have a right to know these facts BEFORE the Hallandale Beach City Commission votes on it, NOT months after the fact.
Given these facts, I'd like you to explain to me why Agenda Item 10-B should not be postponed to a future date until all these issues have been properly resolved and the city is in compliance with the letter and spirit of Florida's laws and Constitution.

Csaba Kulin
Exhibit 1.
Florida Constitution
SECTION 14.  State retirement systems benefit changes.
SECTION 14. State retirement systems benefit changes.—A governmental unit responsible for any retirement or pension system supported in whole or in part by public funds shall not after January 1, 1977, provide any increase in the benefits to the members or beneficiaries of such system unless such unit has made or concurrently makes provision for the funding of the increase in benefits on a sound actuarial basis.
History.—Added, H.J.R. 291, 1975; adopted 1976.
2012 Florida Statutes
112.63 Actuarial reports and statements of actuarial impact; review.
 (3) No unit of local government shall agree to a proposed change in retirement benefits unless the administrator of the system, prior to adoption of the change by the governing body, and prior to the last public hearing thereon, has issued a statement of the actuarial impact of the proposed change upon the local retirement system, consistent with the actuarial review, and has furnished a copy of such statement to the division. Such statement shall also indicate whether the proposed changes are in compliance with s. 14, Art. X of the State Constitution and with s. 112.64.
Exhibit 2.
March 7, 2013
Dear Hallandale Beach City Clerk,
I request to inspect the following documents under Florida Statue 119 from the City of Hallandale Beach Police Officers’ and Firefighters’ Personnel Retirement Trust and the City of Hallandale Beach.

If for any reason you believe any of the requested material is exempt from Florida Statue 119 please list the exemption and fulfill the remainder of this request.
I would like to inspect the following documents:
1.    Copy of the Actuarial Study Regarding Proposed Police CBA.
2.    Copy of the Actuarial Study the City of Hallandale Beach has in its possession.
3.    Draft of the Pension Ordinance which will be presented to the City Commission and the residents in the near future.
After inspection, I will decide the documents I wish to have a copy of.
Please acknowledge my request and notify me with an estimate of the cost, if any, and when the records requested will be available for my inspection.
Csaba Kulin

Exhibit 3.

"Amiraian, George" 
"Kulin, Csaba" 
Public Records Request
Fri 03/15/13 05:09 PM
Part 1
Part 2
Csaba, I have listed below the answers in writing to your Public Records Request received on March 7 2013
1. Copy of the Actuarial Study regarding Proposed Police CBA.
As previous discussed, the latest Actuary Study can be found on the City’s website www.hallandalebeachfl.gov
2. Copy of the Actuarial Study the City of Hallandale Beach has in its possession.
Also discussed, the Actuary Study that the City of Hallandale Beach has in its possession is exempt from public records disclosure due to ongoing negotiations with the Fire Union.
I hope this answers your questions.
George Amiraian
Director of Human Resources
City of Hallandale Beach
400 South Federal Hwy
Hallandale Beach, Florida 33009

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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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Some older elements and building blocks formerly seen at Hallandale Beach Blog, such as photos, graphics and videos have been moved into cold storage. Visit them again or see what you've missed at: http://hallandale-beach-blog.blogspot.com/

New this year: you!

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

Paradise Lost? South Florida

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

A fish rots from the head down, and so does local government in Hallandale Beach, FL

A fish rots from the head down, and so does local government in Hallandale Beach, FL
City of Hallandale Beach Municipal Complex, 400 S. Federal Highway. The City of Hallandale Beach Municipal Complex: If it's true that a fish rots from the head down, so it does in local government in Broward County, FL. This monument sign on the west side of the intersection of U.S.-1 and S.E. 5th Street, across from Gulfstream Park Race Track & Casino and the Village at Gulfstream Park retail complex, alerts you to your proximity to HB City Hall and the HB Police Department HQ. It's a place and culture whose very own words and actions have made clear to taxpayers of this city -regardless of age, race or income- that it holds itself apart from and above from the very citizens it's supposed to serve, often acting like they don't have to follow the same laws that govern everyone else in the state of Florida and the U.S., whether of logic, reason or contracts. (More to the point of this blog, the Florida Statutes on Sunshine Laws and Public Records.) City employees in Hallandale Beach routinely refuse to answer perfectly reasonable questions posed to them by taxpayers, and as I have found out myself and witnessed, are not above berating you for even having the nerve to ask! As it happens, it's also not a very safe area, despite who operates here, and over the past nine years, the public parking lots have often been pitch-black for 6-9 months at a time, including in front of the HB Police Dept. HQ. Then-Police Chief Thomas Magill even shrugged his shoulders at City Comm. meetings when told about this a few times. As if they couldn't make a worse first impression, at one point, even the spotlights shining on this sign didn't work at night for over FOUR YEARS, either. October 13, 2012 photo by South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved.

Palm tree, Stars & Stripes

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

Gulfstream Park Race Track & Casino and Village at GP retail complex, Hallandale Beach, FL

Gulfstream Park Race Track & Casino and Village at GP retail complex, Hallandale Beach, FL
Entrance monument to Gulfstream Park Race Track & Casino and The Village at Gulfstream Park retail complex on U.S.-1 & SE 3rd St. Hallandale Beach, FL. October 5, 2010 photo by South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved

Hallandale Beach Water Tower, looking east from State Road A1A/South Ocean Drive; May 2009 photo by South Beach Hoosier.© 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved

Singer/songwriter Full of Keys (Anni Bernhard)

Singer/songwriter Full of Keys (Anni Bernhard)
Singer/songwriter Full of Keys (Anni Bernhard) wearing the teal-colored Miami Dolphins cap I gave her in January 2013 (in Stockholm) while recording her 2nd album, "The Grazing Grounds" at Sandkvie Studios in Visby, Gotland, Sweden. Also pictured here are sound engineer and co-producer Linus Larsson and musician/DJ/co-producer Mats Jönsson, April 12, 2013.Click the photo to see her videos, read my blog posts and Tweets about her and learn more about this dynamic and original talent with personality to spare!

North Miami Beach Senior High School, the Home of the Chargers

North Miami Beach Senior High School, the Home of the Chargers
Before I was a Hoosier, I was an NMB Charger, Class of 1979.

In the Heart of a Great Country, Beats the Soul of Hoosier Nation

In the Heart of a Great Country, Beats the Soul of Hoosier Nation
"In the Heart of a Great Country, Beats the Soul of Hoosier Nation." -South Beach Hoosier, 2007.

Let's end the 28-year NCAA title drought!

Let's end the 28-year NCAA title drought!
IU All-American and U.S. Olympian Steve Alford on the cover of the 1987 Indiana University basketball media guide, months after IU won the NCAA basketball title.

The NCAA Championship Banners

The NCAA Championship Banners
Assembly Hall, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana. I was there in 1981 for NCAA Title #4 vs. North Carolina. Click on photo to go to the IU Basketball homepage.

Sebastian the Ibis, the U-M mascot

Sebastian the Ibis, the U-M mascot
Like longtime U-M fans everywhere, including me, Sebastian the Ibis, the U-M mascot, hasn't had very much to cheer about lately, given the general state of mediocrity and underwhelming performances coming from the Hurricanes. Isn't it about time for fans to finally see some tangible signs that the new AD is moving things in the right direction? Where are the signs? I'm NOT seeing them. The woeful U-M Women's program is largely composed of teams that are NOT even close to being competitive for NCAA titles like their ACC competition, and they don't even field Women's Lacrosse or Field Hockey teams. It's embarrassing! Click on Sebastian for retrospective photo gallery of The Orange Bowl


The welcoming party that greeted me at the luggage carousel at Arlanda Stockholm Airport in January of 2013 was... ABBA. As seen in my May 7, 2013 blog post. Click photo to see that post!

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


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

Using a map of Stockholm and my Samsung mobile's Latitude app to find out where some friends and contacts in Stockholm were before I called to let them know I'd arrived from Arlanda Airport and had checked into the B&B in Södermalm. If only it had been an OpenStreetMap! January 2013 photo by South Beach Hoosier.© 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved; Click the photo to see OpenStreetMap's amazing map of Stockholm and a whole world of useful maps you never even knew existed

Solrea - Sveriges bästa resesök

Solrea - Sveriges bästa resesök
The colder and snowier it got in Stockholm, the more this simple ad seemed like genius. Sometimes, you don't have to reinvent the advertising wheel. When you're a travel agency and it's cold and snowing, make your target audience think of summers and traveling to an inviting warm beach. Above, one of the many Sistaminuten.se display ads I saw on the side of pay phones throughout Stockholm. This one was located on Ringvägen, across the street from the Åhléns Dept. store (with the Hemköp grocery store in the basement that I frequented) west of busy Götgatan and the Skanstull T-bana, the southern commercial heart of trendy and fun Södermalm. January 11, 2013 photo by South Beach Hoosier.© 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved. I used this photo in my April 22, 2013 blog post titled, Tourism game-changer for South Florida travelers & Fort Lauderdale-area businesses -but only if they're smart and start planning now. Ruminations on the upcoming Norwegian.com flights b/w Ft. Lauderdale and Oslo, Stockholm & Copenhagen, and the need for Broward's hospitality industry to take full-advantage of the opportunity; @Oslo, @norway, @stockholm, @sweden, @copenhagen, @denmark. Click photo to see that post

More travel advertising in Stockholm

More travel advertising in Stockholm
Speaking of advertising, only two blocks from the wonderful 4trappor B&B I stayed at in Södermalm, Stockholm on my trip -and also located on Ringvägen- were two more display ads promoting travel. The one in the distance is for SAS, Scandinavian Airlines Systems, which I flew on to Stockholm, and the one in the foreground, on a public telephone booth, is the "Holiday is where the Heart is" ad campaign for VING. January 12, 2013 photo by South Beach Hoosier.© 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved. Click the photo to see their TV ad!

Risk för snöras, istappar

Risk för snöras, istappar
One of the many such warning signs that I saw on buildings and on sidewalk barricades while in Stockholm in mid-January 2013, alerting you to the possibility of falling snow and ice, often by men shoveling it off roofs. This one was spotted on a residential building in the Södermalm area of Stockholm, on Ringvägen, while I was walking over to the Åhléns Department store on Götgatan. It wasn't until I was walking back later to the B&B that I noticed the inflated Santa that some resident had intentionally placed outside of their window, so it looked like Santa was falling! January 13, 2013 photo by South Beach Hoosier.© 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved.

Ringvägen, Stockholm, Sweden

Ringvägen, Stockholm, Sweden
Poster display on Ringvägen, Stockholm, Sweden. January 2013 photo by South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved. The Affischplats plan in Stockholm, while not perfect, strikes me as a pretty good compromise in helping cultural and civic groups catch the public's eye in a way that's better than a free-for-all of groups plastering posters on the sides of buildings and utility boxes, and watching as the weather makes a mess of them. The tangible effort the city makes to get the public involved in a genuine and meaningful conversation about what is going on long-term for the city as a whole, or in a particular neighborhood, is very impressive, and made me wishful that the local government employees and planners where I live and write about regularly in my blog and in conversations with other concerned civic activists did even one-third of what Stockholm's planning employees seem to do as a starting-point.