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.

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. 
*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.


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

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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.

Paradise Lost? South Florida

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

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.


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


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

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!

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 29-year NCAA title drought!

Let's end the 29-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

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.

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

Ringvägen, Stockholm, Sweden

Ringvägen, Stockholm, Sweden
Poster display seen on Ringvägen, in Södermalm, Stockholm, Sweden. January 2013 photo by South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved. Here's snapshot of the poster featuring the ubiquitous St. Erik, whose crowned head is the City of Stockholm's coat of arms. 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.

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

Which European country has the most attractive citizens?

As seen in my July 31st, 2013 blog post titled, "Which European country has the most attractive citizens?" Sweden won in a landslide with almost four times as many votes as second-place France, with Spain third and Norway fourth. Yes, seeing is believing!; Norwegian.com's non-stop flights from Fort Lauderdale to Oslo start in 4 months! :) http://hallandalebeachblog.blogspot.com/2013/07/boredpandacom-poll-of-europeans-asked.html