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

Monday, April 29, 2013

Having a long tradition of 'White Flight' and a large part of Hallandale Beach's community, essentially, boycotting the local public high school, Hallandale High School, is nothing to brag about. Unfortunately, it's been the sad reality under Mayor Joy Cooper; One of the persons at Hallandale Beach City Hall most-responsible for nothing changing for the better on this issue, Jennifer Frastai, will speak at Tuesday's meeting re education policy in Broward, at Hollywood City Hall at 6 pm. But Frastai won't talk about the real problems here -anything but that!; @MayorCooper


Above, as it has been for many years, one of my three photos of Hollywood City Hall that are three of the first six photos you see on Google Images when you look it up. It's currently #2 after having been #1 for years. I'm always surprised that there aren't more older, historical photos of this or the previous Hollywood City Hall listed on GoogleLooking west towards Hollywood City Hall from the half-circle in front of the Hollywood branch of the Broward County library. June 2, 2008 photos By South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved
I realize that for some of you, much of the following will seem like ancient history once again repeating itself, and some very bad history at that, but stay with it.
Most people don't know the same facts that you do, and they deserve to.

My comments are after the announcement.
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: News and Announcements <listserv@civicplus.com>
Date: Mon, Apr 29, 2013 at 10:51 AM
Subject: Hollywood to Host Consortium of Broward County Education Advisory Boards

Email Notifications
The City of Hollywood Education Advisory Board is participating in a forum of 16 education advisory boards from throughout Broward County to exchange information, explore issues affecting education, and discuss new Broward County School District initiatives. A meeting of the Consortium of Education Advisory Boards will take place Tuesday, April 30, 2013 at 6:00 p.m. in Room 215 at Hollywood City Hall, 2600 Hollywood Blvd. in Hollywood. Meetings of the Consortium are typically held on a quarterly basis.

One of the topics that will be discussed during this meeting is the Hollywood City Commission’s recent passing of a resolution opposing the practice of high-stakes testing in the public schools. Donna Greene, vice chair of the Hollywood Education Advisory Committee, will make a presentation about the process of gaining Commission support for the resolution. Additionally, Jennifer Frastai, assistant city manager of the City of Hallandale Beach, will discuss the reorganization of the Hallandale Beach Education Advisory Board and Renee Grutman, chair of Cooper City’s education advisory board, will discuss Cooper City’s Resource Fair.
You are receiving this message because you are subscribed to News and Announcements on www.hollywoodfl.org
If clicking the link doesn't work, please copy and paste the link into your browser.
Since I'm on the mailing list, why am I getting this announcement for the first time the day before it happens?

Do you recognize that name above, Jennifer Frastai?

She's one of the two Hallandale Beach Assistant City Manager whom I and many other concerned HB residents and small business-owners hold personally responsible for much of what doesn't work or has seldom-if-ever worked properly within the City of Hallandale Beach's inefficient and bewildering bureaucracy, few of whom actually live here.

(The other is Nydia Rafols, whose fingerprints, like Frastai's, are all over the lousy public policies currently pursued here, and the self-evident problems that never get resolved, esp. involving the city's Dept, of Public Works, which is forever chasing its tail and making no progress on matters, years after-the-fact.)

In my own opinion, and in the opinion of many other Hallandale Beach residents who actually pay close attention to what actually happens in this city -an effort in contrast to the local South Florida news media, print or TV, or the taxpayer-supported faux newspaper that was specifically and negatively cited by the Broward Inspector General in his report on corruption at HB City Hall, the South Florida Sun-TimesFrastai is someone who has largely escaped the sort of negative public scrutiny that in many other parts of the country would be hers, given her very mixed -at best- track record.
Especially given how many things Frastai has touched over the many years that are no better now than they were years ago.

Given the important topic under discussion on Tuesday night in Hollywood, Education Policy in Broward County, it's important to note that she's the same HB city employee who spent almost 25 minutes of a recent HB City Commission meeting talking about the high-minded "changes" to the HB Education Advisory Board when it needed, maybe, 10 minutes.

I know because I was there in attendance and taped it on my camcorder.
I deleted it once I got home and listened to it again because of how ponderous and unrealistic it all seemed given where we are and given her own record while acting as the city's liaison for education for years.

The faux earnestness with which she spoke was especially meaningless and even irritating given how this city currently operates, a point that was hammered home subsequently by Mayor Cooper herself, as if I could have written it any better, complete with punchline.

Mayor Cooper has wasted little time and has promptly and predictably shown how little regard she had for this high-minded effort to reach out to new faces and new people in the community and get them involved.
People with varied backgrounds and perhaps even some educational/childcare expertise on the Education Advisory Board.
Yeah, it sounds great in the abstract, but what about in reality?

Mayor Cooper showed her true colors and provided the punchline by re-naming her tennis pal, Barbara Southwick, to the same Education Advisory Board that she's already been on for years.

So much for dynamic changes!
So what was all THAT talk about positive changes and new faces, then?

Yes, Joy Cooper, the longtime Hallandale Beach mayor who has NEVER once publicly called for or even convened a single community-wide meeting or forum, say on a Saturday morning morning, that dealt exclusively with any of the myriad of difficult education issues and very real challenges facing this city.
A city where hardly any kids who live east of U.S.-1 -where most of the population is- actually go to the public high school that's in this city.

Having a tradition of White Flight and a large part of the community, essentially, boycotting the local public high school, Hallandale High School, is nothing to brag about.

(And who has been the Education point-person at Hallandale Beach City Hall while all of this was allowed to happen, year-after-year?
Jennifer Frastai.) 

Real estate brokers covering S.E. Broward sure don't boast about THAT fact it when talking to families considering a new home in HB, esp. those moving to the area from out-of-state, do they?
And why would they, since the basic facts would cause most reasonable people to question why they should want to move here if the people who already live here WON'T send their own kids to Hallandale High School.

But then that's been Hallandale Beach City Hall's modus operandi for so many issues under Joy Cooper the past ten years -if she pretends the problem doesn't exist, it doesn't.
And you can be pretty sure the news media will ignore it completely, too, which makes everything worse, since there's no public pushback against bad public policy that doesn't help anyone, yet continues year-after-year.

For those of you who don't already know, Jennifer Frastai, one of the speakers Tuesday night is the same person whom I spoke to for almost an hour to in the HB City Manager's conference room four-and-a-half years ago with another HB Assistant City Manager present who hasn't been around for years, Franklin Heileman.
Yes, just the three of us in the HB City Manager's conference room.

I described to her in detail just about every single problem and every single example of HB City Hall's longstanding myopia, incompetency or lack of oversight that I'd personally observed -and taken photos of- one neighborhood at a time, and placed on my blog.
That's why it took almost an hour.
The truth is, though, there were always a lot more photos and examples I didn't post but could have.

And just so you know, just as I reminded them that wasted afternoon, everything I mentioned was something I'd already communicated to the very people at HB City Hall who were supposed to be in charge of that, so I already followed the chain-of-command.
But it was broken, apparently, permanently.

Even though no organizational flow-chart of the city or even a complete list of areas of responsibility existed then or even currently at HB City Hall or on the city's website, I made an effort to find out who the right person to talk to was.
And in ZERO instances did any of the city employees I communicated with actually do anything to resolve the problems facing HB residents, taxpayers and small business-owners.
Really.

Why do you suppose I started my blog in the first place, anyway?
Simply to complain about stuff?
Hardly.

At one point, about ten minutes into this, after writing some things down, Frastai put her pen down and looked at Heileman sitting right next to her at the other end of the conference table, and asked if all the things I was saying were true, and, implicitly, whether I'd really mentioned the problems and posted these photos on the web.

I'll give Heileman credit at least for being honest about that, since he just nodded, because he knew it was all true.
She seemed a bit stunned.

We then went mentally thru a tour of a city where City Hall couldn't or wouldn't see longstanding problems right in front of residents' noses every day, inconvenient reminders that city employees ignored problems that needed to actually be solved.

Well, despite my reminding Frastai that photos of everything I said were already on the Internet, with its location, length of the problem, et al, on my blog, in case she wanted to confirm my comments, and despite my having given Frastai multiple ways of contacting me my phone or email to let me know what she'd done, she NEVER did anything about the problems I mentioned to HER that afternoon.
She never contacted me, either.

Frastai's the same person whom former City Manager  Mike Good put in charge of making sure that the newly-purchased recyclable bins were placed on the beach in places where beach-goers could use them, to make it as easy as possible, after I criticized both of them at a City Hall budget meeting in 2009.

(Yet it still, needlessly, took many months and even now, is inconsistently done, and seems to be organized in such a fashion to make it for the convenience of city employees, NOT actual beach-goers, the same way the city continues to mis-allocate picnic tables down at South Beach, while there are only two at North Beach, which are often monopolized all day.
The city has foolishly re-purposed hundreds of the recyclable bins to be used for regular garbage and city employees actually hide them, which is why you don't see recycling bins near the baseball stands at Blusten Park all these years later, while they remain next to the fence on S.W. 5th Street, some of which have not moved in years.
Why did taxpayers pay for something that the city has no clear intention of using properly and with common sense?)

Most of which I mentioned here last June 15th,
Hallandale Beach Mayor Joy Cooper's old threats & lawsuits re-emerge as Hollywood's  Beach One Resort sues over its access to the beach, the latest shoe to drop in The Related Group's Beachwalk project that'd make HB's North Beach a defacto private beach for The Related Group's properties, NOT a public beach for HB residents

By the way, I think it's awesome that this Education meeting in Hollywood tomorrow is scheduled for the same time and date that the City of Hallandale Beach is hosting their beach re-nourishment meeting over at The Hemispheres Condos.

Yes, the meeting with responsible federal and state officials who, presumably, know what they're talking about and who'll be straightforward with those of us who show-up, creating a real nice contrast with what we usually get at most HB meetings, where blame is placed on outsiders -or those of us here in town who favor genuine reform and transparency- is thrown, to say nothing of the mis-direction, half-truths and spin dumped by the barrel-full.

But NOT a forthright discussion about public policy where ALL the germane facts surrounding an issue or vote are publicly revealed -or even given to the City Commissioners by the city staff, as CRA meeting of February proved- and of the problems that are before us.

Because, apparently, the unvarnished truth seems to really hurt someone's feelings at HB City Hall, so instead, we get the charade of democracy, not the real thing.
Year-after-year...

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Hallandale Beach Blog is where I try to inject or superimpose a degree of accountability, transparency and insight onto Florida and local Broward County government and public policy issues, which I feel is sorely lacking in local media now. On this blog, locally, I concentrate my energy, enthusiasm, anger and laser-like attention on the coastal cities of Hallandale Beach, Hollywood and Aventura.

If you lived in this part of South Florida, you'd ALREADY be stuck in stultifying traffic, paying higher-than-necessary taxes and continually musing about the chronic lack of accountability among not only elected govt. officials, but also of city, county and state employees as well. Collectively, with a few rare exceptions, they couldn't be farther from the sort of strong results-oriented, eager work-ethic mentality that local residents deserve and expect. But seldom if ever see...

This is particularly true in the Broward County city I live in, the City of Hallandale Beach, north of Aventura and south of Hollywood and right on the Atlantic Ocean. Here, the "Perfect Storm" of years of apathy, incompetency and cronyism are all too readily apparent. Sadly for its beleaguered residents, HB is where even easily-solved, quality-of-life problems are left to fester for YEARS on end, because of myopia, lack of common sense and ineffective supervisory management. It's a city with tremendous potential because of its terrific location and well-educated populace, yet its citizens have almost become numb to HB City Hall's frequent outrages and screw-ups, the result of YEARS of the worst kind of mismanagement and lack of foresight. On a daily basis, residents and Small Business owners wake up and see the same old problems that have never being adequately resolved by the city in a logical and responsible fashion, merely kicked -once again- further down the road for others to solve in the future.

I used to ask myself, not always rhetorically, "Where are all the enterprising young reporters who want to show that through their own hard work and enterprise, what REAL investigative reporting can produce?" Hearing no response, I decided to start a blog of my own that could try to do some of these things, taking the p.o.v. of a reasonable-but-skeptical person seeing the situation for the first time with fresh eyes, and wanting questions answered in a honest and logical way that citizens have the right to expect.

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