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, the U.S. & South Florida, in particular, Broward & Miami-Dade County, and the cities of Hallandale Beach & Hollywood.
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.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Csaba Kulin asks Hallandale Beach City Attorney Whitfield THE question HB citizens have long wondered, esp. as the Broward IG's Office has been busy investigating the city and turning-up mountains of incriminating and jaw-dropping evidence: Who at HB City Hall is supposed to make sure that applicable laws, ordinances and rules, especially those regarding ethics and conflicts of interest, are followed and enforced fairly? Teaser Alert: You won't like her answer

Csaba Kulin in front of Hallandale Beach City Hall. January 7, 2013 photo by South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved
So, did you hear what Hallandale Beach City Attorney V. Lynn Whitfield said at last week's Hallandale Beach Planning & Zoning Advisory Board meeting about ethics and her role in the city, during yet another one of her so-called Ethics talks to them?
My trusted friend, Hallandale Beach and Broward County civic activist Csaba Kulin did.

He knows because he's the one person in this city to ask City Attorney Whitfield THE  important question that's long been needed to be asked, as HB citizens have woken-up to hear and read yet another jaw-dropping story about what Hallandale Beach's elected officials and highly-paid city employees have allowed to happen at City Hall while dodging their sworn and fiduciary responsibilities to Hallandale Beach citizens: oversight and accountability.

To wit, who at HB City Hall is supposed to make sure that applicable laws, ordinances and rules, especially those regarding ethics and conflicts of interest, are followed and enforced fairly?
Whitfield's answer will no doubt surprise you.

No matter how much you may wish it were not true, the reality is that Hallandale Beach City Attorney V. Lynn Whitfield DOESN'T seem to be getting any smarter about learning where she works, who she works with, who she really works FOR, or even what's really been going on in this city for years and adapting so that she remains firmly on the right side of the community's concerned and informed citizens.

We've already had a do-nothing City Attorney who didn't care about any of those things, and who excelled at ignoring all the routine corruption, incompetency and illegality going on all around him. 

His name was David Jove and he's currently laughing all the way to the bank on the ridiculous pension that HB citizens like you and I are paying for.
The pension that Jove "earned" from NOT saying anything or doing anything when he should have but consciously chose NOT to.

Whitfield certainly DOESN'T seem to appreciate the great harm that she's already done to herself or her reputation in this community, especially with its citizens, who gave her the benefit of the doubt after she was hired in 2011, vis-a-vis the corruption in this city and the pathetic excuses she's publicly made for why CRA money was allowed to go out the door for years to the CRA Board's friends and allies, with no tangible plan or intent by City Hall officials to EVER see whether it went to where it was supposed to go, even IF the idea that was approved had made sense, few of which ever did, of course.


Broward Bulldog
Broward Inspector General: Hallandale leaders don’t know what they’re talking about, By William Gjebre, BrowardBulldog.org
April 23, 2013 AT 6:21 AM
The Broward Inspector General’s final report on the “gross mismanagement” of millions in tax dollars by Hallandale Beach is sharply critical of city leaders it says have shown a “basic misunderstanding” of what’s gone wrong.
Hallandale Beach city managers past and present, the city attorney, the mayor and other city officials defended the handling of funds of the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency in formal responses included in the 56-page report released last week.


You'd think the city's many highly-paid CRA employees and Assistant City Managers could've handled the straightforward task of double-checking and verifying submitted information by grant and loan applicants, wouldn't you, but you'd be dead wrong.

Year-after-year that job was always, apparently, someone else's job, but whose exactly?
Really, WHO was responsible for doing that?

Hallandale Beach City Hall and their flacks can't say and won't say, and neither will former City Managers Good or Antonio, who think that no harm can come to them despite all the harm they've done to this community's bottom line and Quality of Life, thru their neglect and lack of common sense and professionalism.

So what did City Attorney Whitfield say?
You can pretty well assume since I'm writing this that it was something that's NOT positive about cleaning-up HB City Hall and actually injecting a degree of normalcy or even professionalism, something that most people in town thought that she would at least try to do, at a bare minimum, given how obvious predecessor Jove was about hearing no evil, seeing no evil and speaking no evil.
Again, back when they were trying to give her the benefit of the doubt.

I can tell you that It was NOT something that you as a citizen taxpayer would appreciate as either her boss and the person who is ultimately paying her salary, with the idea that she is making an honest attempt to look after YOUR best long-term interests, not Mayor Joy Cooper's.

To say nothing of you and I and everyone else in this city paying CRA Attorney Steven W. Zelkowitz of Gray-Robinson over $200 an hour to say and write preposterous things in the city's official response to the Broward IG Report.

Things that are not only NOT true or believable -and I'd be willing to bet, not believable to a grand jury that ought to hear the evidence!- but which, frankly, read like an Introductory college fiction writing assignment.
You'd almost think Whitfield and Zelkowitz were talking about some other city, not the one we live and work in.


Hallandale Beach turns tables, accuses Broward Inspector General of “factual inaccuracies”
By William Gjebre, BrowardBulldog.org 
April 11, 2013 at 6:30 AM

Broward Inspector General slams Hallandale for “gross mismanagement”; CRAs elsewhere eyed
By William Gjebre and Dan Christensen, BrowardBulldog.org 
March 6, 2013 at 6:10 AM, 


So, what did Whitfield say?
I can tell you it was NOT something that's going to endear her to you or help her one bit in creating any degree of space between her and unpopular and increasingly belligerent City Manager Renee C. Miller on the larger issue of whether either deserves to keep their jobs.

Yes, whatever good will Whitfield may or may not have earned up until now, or even any latent sympathy you may've had for her last year because of her brain surgery, has been erased the past few weeks by her own inexplicable actions and words.

And that includes the troubling and perhaps even haunting words that she uttered at last Wednesday's P&Z meeting, when she was asked a direct question, which shows she really HASN'T learned anything at all about how things have been here, and how they (largely) still are with her around.


HallandaleBeachBlog YouTube Channel video: Csaba Kulin re Hallandale Beach City Attorney Whitfield's comments re her role on ethics. Uploaded May 3, 2013. 
http://youtu.be/dtpFnVOFA-I
*That's real thunder you hear in the background, not SFX! The audio will be better next time.

Hallandale Beach civic activist Csaba Kulin speaks about the comments of Hallandale Beach City Attorney V. Lynn Whitfield on her role at HB City Hall re ethics enforcement, conflicts of interest and making sure that state laws and city ordinances are properly followed, including laws that protect citizen's rights, via Florida's Sunshine Laws in the state constitution.

Kulin is a member of the city's Planning & Zoning Advisory Board and Whitfield's very curious comments that she is "not the ethics police" and that her role as HB City Attorney does not make her responsible for making sure that the City Commission, the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) or various Advisory Board members are actually complying with applicable laws and rules, came in response to Kulin's question to her during the April P&Z meeting, when she was giving another one of her occasional primers on ethics to the Board.

Very troubling questions about a lack of ethics and competency at HB City Hall, self-evident crony capitalism, and conflicts of interest have hovered over Hallandale Beach for many, many years, with its reputation among its own citizens and the rest of South Florida getting only worse by the year, as one embarrassing example after another has emerged of the city engaging in highly questionable behavior, and perhaps even illegal conduct.

In April of 2013, the City of Hallandale Beach was the subject of a scathing final report by the Broward County Inspector General's Office that specifically used the term "gross mismanagement" to describe the city's non-existent oversight and public accountability over millions of dollars in its CRA, which is comprised of the five members of the elected City Commission, including the mayor. Example after example is cited of near-invisible oversight of the CRA's activities by the elected City Commission, and the employees of the CRA and City Manager's office, with ZERO follow-up to see whether funds were spent for the purposes for which they were intended, or even whether various projects given funding were ever actually accomplished. 

This comes as no surprise to Hallandale Beach's most-concerned and involved citizens, including Kulin and myself, most of whom have viewed the CRA -as it has operated in this city- as little more than a city slush fund to reward the City Commission's favored social and non-profit groups and political allies, a fact that is bolstered by the IG Report, with lots of often incomplete or completely missing files and documents for grants or loans, and no apparent effort to double-check and see whether so-called "non-profits" really qualified for that designation.


The complete report, FINAL REPORT RE: GROSS MISMANAGEMENT OF PUBLIC FUNDS BY THE CITY OF HALLANDALE BEACH AND THE HALLANDALE BEACH COMMUNITY REDEVELOPMENT AGENCY is at
http://www.broward.org/InspectorGeneral/Documents/OIG11-020HallandaleFinalE-REPORT04-18-13.docx.pdf


*Due to exhibits, the IG Report takes almost a minute to download.

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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.
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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.
"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 84 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 183,914 times. That's MORE than TWO 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.

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

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

Corruption Isn't Unique to South Florida, It's the Level of the Stupidity That Is

Corruption Isn't Unique to South Florida, It's the Level of the Stupidity That Is
"[Chicago Mayor] William Hale Thompson was defeated Tuesday after a campaign which he alone made disgraceful. The election was an ejection, a dirty job, but Chicago has washed itself and put on clean clothes. Thompson recognized the [Chicago] Tribune as his chief enemy. The Tribune was glad to earn that opinion. It certainly tried to do so. It has taken the fight to him on every occasion during the long and depraved course of his administration. It is unpleasant business to eject a skunk, but someone has to do it. For Chicago, Thompson has meant filth, corruption, obscenity, idiocy and bankruptcy. He has given the city an international reputation for moronic buffoonery, barbaric crime, triumphant hoodlumism, unchecked graft and a dejected citizenship. He nearly ruined the property and completely destroyed the pride of the city. He made Chicago a byword for the collapse of American civilization. In his attempt to continue this he excelled himself as a liar and defamer of character. He’s out. He is not only out, but dishonored. He is deserted by his friends. He is permanently marked by the evidences of his character and conduct. His health is impaired by his ways of life and he leaves office and goes from the city the most discredited man who ever held place in it."

-Excerpts from April 1931 Chicago Tribune editorial following Republican "Big Bill" Thompson's loss to his Democratic rival Anton Cermak. A friend of organized crime during the Al Capone era, Thompson was the last Republican elected mayor of Chicago. But less than two years later, Mayor Cermak was shot while shaking hands with President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt at Miami's Bayfront Park. He died from gunshot wounds to his lungs three weeks later.

See
http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/3686.html

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.
H/T Hannah Ongley @hannahongley http://instagram.com/youdidnoteatthat