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.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

re Red-Light Cameras: Greedy FL cities, Tallahassee-based lobbyists, FL League of Cities and Lake Worth Sen. Jeff Clemens lead effort to gut proper yellow-light timing, gut Motorist's Rights, and gut effort to lower Red-Light Camera fines; Naturally, Sen. Gwen Margolis is not part of the reform and increased safety effort but rather the team intent on keeping dollars flowing into cities at all costs

WJHG-TV/Panama City, FL video: Red Light Camera Changes Shot Down
Posted: Thu 5:24 PM, Mar 21, 2013A A  
Updated: Thu 9:26 PM, Mar 21, 2013Back to News

The following blog post combines certain portions of an email I sent out early Friday morning after spotting various versions of stories 
on my blog's Google Reader about how Florida state Sen. Joe Abruzzo's SB 1342 proposal fared in the Senate Transportation Committee Thursday morning in Tallahassee.

It also incorporates information from earlier news stories I'd kept under wraps on attempts in various states to set minimum lengths of time for yellow traffic lights to display before a red light appears, per the continuing controversy in Chicago previously mentioned here on the blog on November 24, 2012, one of my most-popular posts:

More Red-Light Camera shenanigans: National Journal's Mike Magner has warning for U.S. drivers about unscrupulous cities' amber-colored money trap: Yellow means Green & $$$ - "Dreaded Yellow Light May Be Trap for Traffic Violations" -on purpose. And Rahm Emanuel's Chicago, with Redflex Traffic Systems Inc., is the most brazen of all


Just to reiterate, the FHWA's "Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices," i.e. Federal regs require that a yellow light be at least 3-6 seconds in length. 

Despite lots of lip service, Florida cities, especially those located in South Florida, like Hallandale Beach where I live, do NOT want longer yellow/amber times on their traffic signals because this would necessarily result in giving motorists more time to continue thru the intersection or to come to a complete stop, which would mean less speeding and red-light running ticket fees for their hurting bottom line. 
Plain and simple, the cities have become addicts for those fines and will do anything to keep getting their fix, and that's nowhere more true than in Hallandale Beach. Especially cities that take their marching orders from the taxpayer-subsidized Florida League of Cities, which Mayor Cooper was recently the head of. 


Tampa Bay Times Buzz politics blog 
Red light camera fines survive in Senate
By  Michael Van Sickler, Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau
March 21, 2013 1:05pm
 Red light runners would have paid less for getting violations and had more time to pay them under SB 1342 by Sen. Joe Abruzzo, D-Wellington, but the lobbying muscle of the agencies and governments that produce revenue from the fines overturned it.
If approved, the bill would have reduced fines from $158 to $100 and given violators 90 days to respond rather than the current 30 days.
Read the rest of the post at: http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/the-buzz-florida-politics/red-light-camera-fines-survive-in-senate/2110424

Given her past track record and ardently pro-government/anti-citizen sensibility, it's no surprise that Northeast Miami-Dade's very own Sen. Gwen Margolis supported the unhelpful Clemens amendment to keep cities rolling in the dough and not create a longer yellow light to actually do something about safety.

As has been mentioned here on the blog more than a few times, Margolis once famously suggested that it might be necessary to make the William Lehman Causeway/Bridge in Aventura -a bridge connecting the beach area of Sunny Isles to the mainland (and hospitals) that was needed decades before it was finally builta pay/toll bridge.

For many years, Margolis has been doing the bidding of the City of Aventura -the city just south of Hallandale Beach- on behalf of their red-light camera operation, which unlike Hallandale Beach's money-grab, at least has the benefit of having large signs that mention that it's the handiwork of Aventura, so there's no confusion on who'd doing it.

Here are the two scenarios that the folks at American Traffic Solutions, the Arizona-based vendor who's been fervently pushing them across South Florida, and even tried to co-opt Broward County into sharing their physical resources so they could piggyback at still more locations, along with their army of lobbyists and cronies at the Florida League of Cities are most afraid of:

a,) passage of the bill for complete repeal, CS/HB 4087
or, b.) the Florida Supreme Court ruling them illegal:
Sunshine State News
Florida Supreme Court to Hear Red Light Camera Cases, Could Refund Millions of Dollars
By Eric Giunta, November 14, 2012 3:55 AM

Miami NewTimes
Freedom fighter Richard Masone takes on red-light cameras in South Florida 
By Gus Garcia-Roberts, June 24 2010

After watching the videos and the articles above, some of you might want to consider contacting the city attorney and police chief in your own city and ask what the minimum yellow light-change interval time is and when it was last verified.
And while you are at it, ask what the city's official standard is for legal right turns on red.

Red light camera in Hallandale Beach has some seeing red

Uploaded July 8, 2010. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0wl8xGKzfTU

That goes double for taxpayers and residents here in Hallandale Beach, with two red-light cameras, at Hallandale Beach Blvd. & U.S.-1 and the one near Hallandale Beach Blvd. & N.W. 9th Court, and whether they have been adjusted properly since initial installation to meet the standard cited in this bill.

Given that the city and HBPD would NOT publicly release their own statistics about tickets for speeding and red-light running in this city at the locations where the devices were eventually placed -which should have been where the highest incidents were, right?- prior to the adoption of tehm, you have very good reason to cast more than a little doubt on what you'd hear.
But contact them anyway and see what they say and let me know at hallandalebeachblog-at-gmail-dot-com

I ask this because everyone who has been paying attention here knows that it took FDOT well over a year AFTER a HB-controlled red-light camera was installed on west-bound Hallandale Beach Blvd. & N.W. 9th Court, near the IHOP, to actually place legible warning signs where they could be seen by drivers, instead of being hidden behind trees -on a block lacking any street lights- per my many complaints.

Here's the bill that was proposed but then gutted by Sen. Jeff Clemens


The action described in the articles/posts above can be seen at the hearing's video  

starting at the 85:47 mark thru 109:49

Thinking about this causes me to wonder why HBPD STILL insists on placing police officers conducting old-fashioned speed-traps on relatively little-traveled W. Dixie Highway and First Avenue and NOT where the speeding cars in this town actually are -on Federal Highway?

IF public safety is really the number-one concern, why does it seem that most of the actual speeders ever caught, usually in front of Gulfstream ParkRace Track & Casino's S.E. 3rd Street entrance, are caught almost always by Aventura Police, not HBPD?


In a related news, DO try this at home: 

Go to http://www.crimemapping.com/map/fl/hollywood

Then place your cursor on the + part of the zoom-in/zoom-out function on the right until its as close as possible.
Now place the cursor on the - sign and click it five times.
Focus the map so that Aventura is not shown.
And there in front of you will be the evidence of what constitutes the most-common link of most crime in HB and Hollywood: Federal Highway/U.S.-1.
Okay, so book 'em and read 'em their Miranda Rights...

By the way, not that this will surprise you, but almost five months later, nobody from either upper management or on the Editorial Board of at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel ever responded to my direct questions last year about why they asked HB Mayor Joy Cooper, the former head of the Florida League of Cities, to write an essay re Red-Light Cameras for their Op-Ed section, given her 2012 campaign contributions from American Traffic Solutions.

That email was posted here as

When are Broward County residents FINALLY going to get the "whole truth" from the Tribune Company's South Florida Sun-Sentinel and some public explanation for their continued reluctance to report it and useful context in Broward County news? Their problems with facts & bias are getting worse by the month; Joy Cooper's red-light camera friends and supporters; Sun-Sentinel's pro-Debbie Wasserman-Schultz bias is a continuing insult to readers; @MayorCooper


My own guess is that a large part of the Sun-Sentinel's refusal to respond to me and address those reasonable concerns stems from the fact that they were embarrassed to have me publicly point out that they were NOT smart enough to ask Mayor Cooper 
 BEFORE they agreed to publish her red-light propaganda, whether or not she'd already received or anticipated receiving any campaign contributions from ATS, or whether the Florida League of Cities has received any money from them.

The news paper didn't mention those obvious questions or ethical concerns in or near what she wrote, even though they are the very sort of obvious questions that should've been asked, with answers shared with readers.
Bit they didn't do that.

For more on the topic of Red-Light Cameras in Hallandale Beach, and photo examples of where the warning signs were placed -out-of-sight- see:

Red Light Ticket Capital YouTube Channelhttp://www.youtube.com/user/MrBFagel

Section 316 of the Florida Statutes, the State Uniform Traffic Control Law:

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Hallandale Beach Blog is where I try to inject or superimpose a degree of accountability, transparency and insight onto Florida and local Broward County government and public policy issues, which I feel is sorely lacking in local media now. On this blog, locally, I concentrate my energy, enthusiasm, anger and laser-like attention on the coastal cities of Hallandale Beach and Hollywood.
If you lived in this part of South Florida, you'd ALREADY be stuck in stultifying traffic, paying higher-than-necessary taxes and continually musing about the chronic lack of accountability among not only elected govt. officials, but also of city, county and state employees as well. Collectively, with a few rare exceptions, they couldn't be farther from the sort of strong results-oriented, eager work-ethic mentality that local residents deserve and expect.
This is particularly true in the town I live in, the City of Hallandale Beach, just north of Aventura and south of Hollywood. There, the "Perfect Storm" of years of apathy, incompetency and cronyism are all too readily apparent.
Sadly for its residents, HB is where even easily-solved, quality-of-life problems are left to fester for YEARS on end, because of myopia, lack of common sense and ineffective supervisory management. It's a city with lots of potential because of its terrific location, yet its citizens have become numb to its outrages and screw-ups after years of the worst kind of mismanagement and lack of foresight. On a daily basis, they wake up and see the same old problems that have never being adequately resolved by the city in a logical and responsible fashion, merely kicked -once again- further down the road.
I used to ask myself, not always rhetorically, "Where are all the enterprising young reporters who want to show that through their own hard work and enterprise, what REAL investigative reporting can produce?" Hearing no response, I decided to start a blog that could do some of these things, taking the p.o.v. of a reasonable but skeptical person seeing the situation for the first time, and wanting questions answered in a honest and logical way that citizens have the right to expect.

Hallandale Beach Blog intends to be a catalyst for positive change. If there's one constant gripe in South Florida, regardless of your age, race, nationality or political persuasion, it's about the fundamental lack of PUBLIC ACCOUNTABILITY here among Florida's state, regional and local govt./agency officials. Hallandale Beach Blog aims to be a small step towards regaining some of that needed accountability, whether it's thru simple public scrutiny, or requires a degree of follow-up investigation and public exposure of incompetency, cronyism or simple negligence -South Florida's usual governing style.
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.
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/

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

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.