Hallandale Beach Blog -A common sense public policy overview offering a critical perspective on the current events, politics, govt., public policy, sports scene and pop culture of the U.S., South Florida and Europe, especially the UK and Sweden. In particular, Broward & Miami-Dade County, and the cities of Hallandale Beach, Hollywood & Aventura. Trust me when I tell you, this part of Florida is NOT the Land of Lincoln. Pictured in upper-left is Hallandale Beach's iconic beachball-colored Water Tower on State Road A1A; September 2008 photo by me, South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

To Hallandale Beach's frustrated and beleaguered taxpayers who've reached their limit after SO MANY YEARS of unsatisfactory performance by city's DPW -esp. re proper maintenance/appearance of public beach and city parks- outsourcing some DPW tasks ought to be on the table for active consideration. So why is City Manager Renee Miller not even going to consider the idea during the next year given DPW's dismal track record?

JUST AS TRUE NOW AS IT WAS WHEN IT WAS WRITTEN IN JUNE 2012! "So this is where our tax dollars go to die?" My friend and fellow civic activist Csaba Kulin, 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, bacteria-filled 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. Go to 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 

To beleaguered Hallandale Beach taxpayers, residents and small business owners who've reached their limit after SO MANY YEARS of unsatisfactory performance by city's DPW -esp. proper maintenance of public beach and city parks, which look awful- out-sourcing some DPW tasks looks better and better. So why is City Manager Renee Miller not even going to consider the idea during the next year when DPW's dismal track record is so clear?

My post today consists of a copy of an email I sent on Friday afternoon, March 1st, to the City of Hallandale Beach's Dept. of Public Works' interim director, Earl King, a longtime employee at DPW.

It was occasioned by some questions he asked me following my very critical comments and pointed questions re DPW's performance to City Manager Renee Miller during Thursday night's Quadrant meeting in NW Hallandale Beach, held at the Foster Park facility that opened a few months ago, which did NOT have enough parking for the number of people who showed up, low as that was. 
While having the meeting there was a nice idea in the abstract, it was clearly less so in reality, especially since the rest of the facility was open and full of people.

(Why are the city's Quadrant meetings never held on Saturday mornings at 10 a.m., when the largest number of HB citizens can actually attend, instead of weeknights? 
And given the low turnout of citizens these things usually get, why are they not televised and streamed online, when the city already has both the technology and ability to do so?
Even to allow phone-in and email questions to be asked and answered?
It's the year 2013, not 1913, and isn't the goal of these meetings in the first place to be "outreach" and education?
Sort of makes you wonder, doesn't it?)

I should note for the record here that Thursday night's meeting, the second of the year, was held in a room that was full of more city employees than citizens, and the only members of the five-person City Commission who were in attendance were Commissioners Michele Lazarow and Anthony A. Sanders
Due to an upset stomach, I didn't attend the first meeting, for Southeast HB, the part of town that I live in, so I don't know who exactly from the HB City Commission attended.

During the Q&A portion of the program, after HB City Manager Renee Miller's opening presentation on the upcoming city budget, I made a series of pointed remarks and asked some equally pointed questions regarding the performance of DPW, especially as it regards the maintenance of the two things that taxpayers in a small city like this feel they should be able to take for granted: the city's small number of public parks and even more importantly, what ought to be the city's Crown Jewel, but isn't, the city's public beach.

Above, a photo I took on Sunday March 3rd at the city's North Beach: the useless 10-foot steel pole that's full of bacteria, rust and holes, the one that has been there for YEARS, was STILL THERE, taunting us. And so were the piles of cigarette butts that haven't been cleaned up since... And the garbage cans without lids.
Because I was filming the entire meeting on my FLIP Mino HD camera, mounted on my tripod, from one side of the room and next to a wall, frankly, I'm embarrassed to say that my voice wavered a little bit more than I'd have liked, since I didn't want to overpower the camera mic just a few inches away, so it was NOT exactly a star-turn by me by any stretch of the imagination.

Still, I do think my questions and justified anger came through to everyone in the room who was actually paying attention, which clearly is not always the case among the assembled city employees, largely Dept. heads.

For those of you who are relatively new to the blog and who do NOT already know, the subject of DPW's performance and what many very upset residents like feel is the need to actually out--source some of their duties, with an equal reduction in their budget, has been the subject-du-jour for not only dozens of previous posts here since this blog was started, but also a subject that has been much discussed at various formal and informal meetings I've attended over the past six years here in the city.

After all, why do we want to keep doing the same exact thing with the same exact people that is clearly NOT WORKING to residents' satisfaction?

For those of you who do NOT already know, it's important that you understand that unlike is the case in many if not most other Florida cities with a public beach, here, it's the responsibility of DPW, not the city's Parks & Recreation Dept., for the maintenance and appearance of the public beach.
Here, the only thing that the city's Parks & Recreation dept. is specifically responsible for are the Chickee Huts and the children's playground equipment located at South Beach.
That's it.

Everything else on the beach from the city's border with Hollywood to the north down to the South Beach border with the La Mer condominium, is DPW's responsibility, including the area occupied by the city's North Beach building off of State Road A1A, underneath the city's iconic beach ball-colored Water Tower.

That building is currently being rented by the city to real estate developers, The Related Group, for use as their customer "model" for their Beachwalk development project on the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway two blocks to the west.

Regular readers of the blog will recall that as a particularly bad deal for city taxpayers that was approved by the HB City Commission last August, where I and many other HB civic activists were against anything other than it becoming the quality hotel we were promised it'd be, which everyone in the city agreed we needed, including me, but NOT with residential units as part of the deal.

And a bad deal because it also gave The Related Group practical if not legal control of the North Beach area, which Mayor Cooper, the City Commission and the two previous City Managers have all allowed to deteriorate for many years to the point that many Hallandale Beach residents will NOT take visiting friends or family members to the city's public beach because of how depressing it is, because of how bad it looks and is maintained.

Now though, as has been the case since the North Beach property was given to the city years ago for FREE -by Related no less, after being the "model" for the next-door trio of towers known as The Beachclub- the taxpayers and residents of this community DON'T have access to one of their own buildings, a two-story building with views of the ocean.

A building that every other city in South Florida would love to have in their city but steps from the ocean and made a point of pride in their community in no time at all.

But here in Hallandale Beach, that building has been mired in public controversy from the start both because of how long it took the city to make repairs after it was given title to the property
-over THREE YEARS- and because of Mayor Cooper and the trio of City managers who do NOT want the public to be able to use their own facility, and have NEVER allowed a single public meeting to take place where its future could be openly discussed.

I think that's it for the preface!

The subject header was: Mr. King: Per your question to me last night... and my response that the answer was "dozens and dozens" of examples of HB DPW's sheer myopia, incompetence and laziness for years


March 1, 2013

Per your question to me last night... and my response that the answer was "dozens and dozens" of examples of HB DPW's sheer myopia, incompetence and laziness:

Again, you might want to have that conversation with Assistant City Manager Jennifer Frastai and have her try to explain to you just why it is that despite my giving her multiple emails and phone numbers to contact me, she NEVER followed-up with me or did anything at all about the dozens of problem I cited in minute detail for her and then-Assistant City Manager Franklin Heilman over the course of one hour when the three of us were in the conference room outside the City Manager's office -over four years ago.
Well over 90% of all those matters are STILL problems.

Given my experience, not surprisingly, I have zero faith and trust in anything Frastai or Nydia Rafols says or does, and know better than to waste my time speaking with them
With them, anything I say goes in one ear, out the other.
And others in this community have learned from my experiences, and know better than to trust them to do the right thing.
And the problems remain for HB residents to look at and deal with -everyday.

Given the significant commitment of public funds to construct and maintain city facilities, it's important that the city establish written policies and procedures documenting processes
for evaluating facilities construction methods and maintenance techniques to determine the most cost effective and efficient method or technique. 
Or something...

But the failure to do so or actually have those standards mean anything tangible, as well as the city's failure to actually hold employees accountable for their performance to ensure that a dollar's worth of service of effort is given for every tax dollar spent, is why Hallandale Beach taxpayers, residents and business owners for years have had to sit back and watch the following unfold, chosen from dozens of similar examples that could be cited with facts and photos.
We think the city government's number-one priority should be to give efficient, competent and reliable service to taxpayers, NOT be an employment agency

-An excerpt from my blog, which in some way or fashion has been there since I started it-

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.

For the proof of what I told you last night about this same sign, Mr King, as Example # 1, look at the photos in the email at the bottom. 
It speaks volumes for the city's dreadful performance at handling even simple tasks.

It's for just some of these reasons that many of Hallandale Beach's best-informed and most-articulate residents and business owners believe that some -though not necessarily all- of DPW's services should be privatized, especially the maintenance of city parks, the city beach and the medians on the three main streets -A1A, U.S.-1, and Hallandale Beach Blvd.
It's why I asked my question to City Manager Miller at last night's NW Quadrant meeting about her level of interest on a scale of one-to-ten about outsourcing some duties, and am very disappointed that she replied that in the coming year, she would NOT use it at all, despite what so many believe is DPW's longstanding pitiful performance, which is like a thumb to the eye of every taxpayer.

What are HB taxpayers to think of her unwillingness to make positive and necessary changes that meet with the approval of the very people who live and work here?

And now, the recent news that taxpayers may possibly be paying up to FOUR TIMES more for maintenance of median strips, but with no corresponding cuts in city employee ranks,
despite city employees' poor performance?
There's no inherent logic in that decision, but then logic and reason seldom have ever intersect in this community the nine years I have lived here.

You see, Mr. King, some of us here still recall that after Hurricane Wilma, lots of DPW employees were dispatched to re-plant flowers on the median strip on U.S.-1 in front of HB City Hall, even while there were still real problems here that were of a much-higher priority, including around City Hall itself, where, to cite but one dumb but very frustrating example, the city's own wooden Stop signs lay on the ground for MANY WEEKS, and lots of city parking lot lights were out, as if somehow public safety was a low priority, even while it was staring right at them.

And yet what was taken care of first? 
Re-planting flowers in front of City Hall and installing holiday lights!

I've got news for you, Mr. King.
More than a few members of the local news media know all about that in the same way they already know most of the things I could write and cite here, which have previously appeared on my blog about the city bureaucracy's longstanding unsatisfactory and dysfunctional performance.

I can tell you with certainty that a reporter was all set to put HB thru the ringer when they were looking for a city in Broward County to profile that was doing a poor job of performing post-Wilma cleanup.
I know that because they contacted me to tell me as much.
I'm the person who gave the reporter the tour of the city and gave them photos highlighting the very curious choices the city had made with how to use resources and personnel while many people, including myself, were without electricity for WEEKS.
Though to be fair, after seeing what they saw with their own eyes, my photos hardly did the Keystone Kops performance of the city justice.

(And honestly, Mr. King, the city's so-called sandbagging operation is the very picture of comedy. No bags pre-filled when the weather is good so they can be stored in a dry and secure place? Piles of sand dumped alongside inside a secure fence or a two-lane road with no lighting at all? And without a tarp being secured to the sand when not in use so it doesn't get washed away during storms? And you STILL use orange safety cones as funnels for the sand bags instead of something that's smarter and more efficient? 
Where to even begin there...)

Besides, why exactly should HB taxpayers care if some city employees lose their job due to their own inadequate performance, or if the City Manager's office wanted to send a message to everyone within the bureaucracy that continued unsatisfactory performance will no longer be accepted and winked at, when, according to the way things have been at City Hall for many, many years, those same HB taxpayers are NOT supposed to care about the fact that the vast majority of the city's management structure and Dept. heads DON'T  even live here themselves, and thus, DON'T have to put up with the same unsatisfactory, frustrating and mediocre service that taxpayers do?
Why the incongruity in thinking?

Guess what, Mr. King?
While it's not one of my top priorities, per se, there are lots of very smart and fed-up taxpayers in this city who believe there's growing support for insisting that all management- level positions require those individuals to move to the city limits of HB within a certain defined period -or no job.
Or, as a compromise, pay people who don't live here less, and the converse.

After all, you can't keep saying that it doesn't matter where the management team lives, but then say, as some do, that it's really important that every city employee keep their job -for life.
Yes, jobs for life!

That sense of entitlement and the mentality attitude that it breeds is a large part -though not the only reason- why the City of Hallandale Beach is in the funk it's been for years, even as residents and small business owners have had to tighten their belts and make do with less.

As I told you last night, Mr. King, in this new year, I'm no longer going to be the cordial person who always goes thru proper channels all the time.
The well-informed and cordial person with photographic proof to collaborate his points who waits patiently for well-paid city employees like Jennifer Frastai to never call or write and follow-up on things that are important from either a safety, aesthetic or financial standpoint.
Those days are over.

Doing that has only resulted in someone like you not even knowing why Hallandale Beach's most-concerned and best-informed taxpayers and residents are so angry at the dismal performance of city management and city employees.

We want positive results and quality performance and are not opposed to paying a reasonable amount in salaries for THAT.
But creating and continuing to feed an already well-fed bureaucracy who takes advantage of HB taxpayers by consistently giving sup-par performances, and paying more than seems reasonable given the output, well, that's another story entirely.
And it's another reason why the Weston Model looks better and better every day for HB taxpayers, because it pays strictly based on actual performance -and with no bureaucracy.

How Weston, Florida, a City of 65,000, Gets By on 9 Employees
MAY 14, 2012

Since I gave you the URL last night for the blog after you asked, I suggest that after checking that out that you enter the name "Hallandale Beach Blog" into Google's "Images" category in the upper-left column.
Then click on the photos and then click the accompanying posts that used them.
Then you'll see as I stated to you last night, the high percentage of those very same problems in this city cited years ago which are STILL being ignored and avoided.
Ignored by City Hall, Mr. King, but definitely NOT ignored by the city's taxpayers.

And before closing I want you to fully understand something.
There are a LOT more people than you think who know how badly things have been run in this city for years.
Not just HB residents and small business owners and condo presidents, but many people next door in Aventura and Hollywood, and TV/print reporters, columnists and editors, to say nothing of elected officials and mangers in other cities, as well as people of some importance at the County HQ on Andrews Avenue and even a few in Tallahassee.
That's not bragging, just a statement of fact.

They're the very same people who'll be getting a copy of this email soon, and the very people who are the reason that my blog, such as it is, a one-man operation, is read, even on bad days, by anywhere from 1100-2300 people a day, and sometimes, like around the holidays, many multiples of that.
I can substantiate what I say and what I write about with facts and photographic proof that doesn't lie.
It's not just my opinion.

The hard-working and conscientious city employees, ones I've talked to and commiserated with over the past nine years, continue to have to suffer the slings and arrows meant for the others, and who feel both trapped and VERY frustrated, because they know that most of the public's criticism of HB city employees is 100% valid.
They see it everyday themselves.

Frankly, given your position as interim head of DPW, Mr. King, I'm surprised that you don't see that as clearly as I do, and wouldn't want to make sure that every employee under your command knows that performance and quality is what counts most with Hallandale Beach's beleaguered taxpayers.
That you don't seem to is a matter of real concern.

*Here, in my email to King, I had the photo and caption of Csaba Kulin at the beach that's at the top of this blog post.

This is my email from three days ago.

Above, the Hallandale Beach City Hall monument sign on U.S.-1 and S.E. 5th Street, across from Gulfstream Park Race Track & Casino and the Village at Gulfstream Park retail complex, as seen this week. The one that, thanks to the longstanding unsatisfactory performance of the city's DPW, has lights that haven't worked properly at night since before new-ish City Manager Rene Miller first showed-up last June.(And which you can only see at night, below, when you walk up to it with your camera and use a flash!) That's a form of vision, too -myopia.

In Ft. Lauderdale, the city, with its active corps of high-minded citizen's input, and lots of big problems on the plate to solve, plans for its future to the extent they can, with the resources they have.
Meanwhile in the City of Hallandale Beach, its taxpayers, residents and small business owners are treated like outliers, and are NOT allowed to speak at HB's Visioning meeting.

I guess, possibly due to Mayor Joy Cooper's fear that constructive criticism and suggestions by concerned people who care enough to actually show-up and participate, unlike 99.99% of city, might interrupt the powerful intellectual firepower being displayed by the HB City Comm. at a public meeting that was, sadly, NOT recorded for either posterity or later viewing by the city's citizens.

Which, of course, is wholly consistent, since the "public meeting" was also NOT mentioned on the city's own website, either.
Talk about a circle of negative reinforcement!

Yes, like a cartoon character, the city's elected officials and administration continue to chase their tails and believe they're really making progress, when instead, all they're accomplishing is continuing to depress the morale of their own citizens.
In the process, continuing to ruin this city with their longstanding myopia that fails to see opportunities right in front of them in equal measure to their inability to see the longstanding problems that exist mostly due to their own laissez-faire oversight and management practices.

Myopia is a form of vision, too, just not the particular one you want when tens of millions of tax dollars and your own family's future Quality-of-Life is concerned.
And so it goes in Hallandale Beach...

Broward Bulldog
Fort Lauderdale draws up vision for the future
By Ann Henson Feltgen, BrowardBulldog.org 
FEBRUARY 19, 2013 AT 6:23 AM
Within the next few months, if city commissioners approve, Fort Lauderdale residents will have the option of receiving and paying their bills for city services online. The savings in postage and personnel will be used to purchase shade trees for residents who use the online pay system, or be placed elsewhere around the city.
Read the rest of the article at:

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#HOLLYWOODFL based photographer and entrepreneur Esther Chuang with Hollywood Mayor-elect Josh Levy

Thumbs up! What a night! #HOLLYWOODFL based photographer and entrepreneur Esther Chuang with a very elated Hollywood Mayor-elect Josh Levy at his Victory Party, held at Leo Anato's Atelier3/AT3 on Harrison Street & S. 19th Avenue, Hollywood. AT3's great environment and the amazing variety of food prepared by chef Kevin Dreifuss, former owner/chef of ENDS MEAT restaurant, was SUPERB! November 8, 2016

Esther Chuang, Morro Dois Irmãos, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2015

Above, perhaps my most-favorite photo ever of Esther, which is really saying something considering the THOUSANDS that I've actually seen of her, from all over the world. But despite the fact that you can't actually see it here, trust me, her amazing smile and inner and external beauty are there. This photo is an even more amazing achievement when you know the backstory of what it took for Esther to get to the top of the mountain, since it's NOT for the faint of heart. Next time you see her, ask her about that! Morro Dois Irmãos, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on her birthday, July 10, 2015. That's the Christ The Redeemer statue way out in the horizon on the top of another mountain, to the left of her head. �� In case you forgot what the Christ the Redeemer statue looks like, up close, here's another Brazilian beauty to connect-the-dots for you: Gisele Bündchen, aka @Gisele.

Abençoado por Deus e bonito por natureza!✨ ������

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View of Rio De Janeiro from my room.

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