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

Friday, May 31, 2013

Given the longstanding mismanagement and corruption involving MILLIONS of dollars at Hallandale Beach CRA, why has Broward's independent Office of Inspector General refused to hold a single outreach mtg. with citizens in Hallandale Beach, while OIG has met with other Broward civic groups? It's very perplexing and counterintuitive to getting cold hard facts out into the sunshine and the public realm

Above, Broward Inspector General John W. Scott at a Broward League of Women Voters event in Coconut Creek, FL on January 24, 2013. Below, four of the five Hallandale Beach citizens who found time on a busy weekday afternoon to drive up to Coconut Creek in northwest Broward County to listen to and ask some questions of Mr. Scott. Pictured left-to-right are Keith S. London, Dr. Robert Selz, Dr. Judy Selz, and Csaba Kulin. Not pictured: me! January 24, 2013 photos by South Beach Hoosier.© 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved.



Below is a copy of my email this afternoon to Hallandale Beach's two reps on the Broward County Commission, Sue Gunzburger and Barbara Sharief, about the independent Broward Office of Inspector General relative to an issue that I've previously mentioned here on the blog and in numerous emails around the area, almost of which have elicited the same perplexed and unhappy reaction among concerned citizens upon first learning of it.
The email speaks for itself.

I should mention here that as of 8:00 p.m. tonight, in advance of Tuesday's important County Commission meeting in Fort Lauderdale with an agenda item re an audit of the HB CRA by the County Auditor's office, Comm. Sharief has not publicly made her opinion known, while Comm. Gunzburger has made clear to everyone that she is going to fight very hard for it.
http://www.browardbulldog.org/2013/05/broward-auditor-looks-at-hallandale-beach-cra-with-eye-toward-recovering-misspent-funds/

I sincerely hope that Comm. Sharief will show the same good judgement and pro-citizen sentiment that she's consistently shown the past few years on many issues, including the controversial red-light camera issue, where she has been one of the very few bright spots among all of Broward's pols, city officials and public policy pundits. 

Comm. Sharief has been a consistent opponent of the overwhelmingly pro-RLC County Commission and Broward Legislative Delegation's knee-jerk votes on this issue, the very same people who have been so VERY quiet the past few weeks about the #shortyellow issue in Florida, where the Florida Dept. of Transportation lowered the required length of the yellow traffic light below the Federal standard of 4.5 seconds, without contacting the Florida Legislature and its leadership, in order to capture more cars on camera and generate more revenue for Florida cities.

That's entirely in keeping with the long-time strategy of the taxpayer-supported Florida League of Cities, many of whose individual members received considerable campaign contributions last year from the companies engaged in this so-called service, which is exactly what happened here in Hallandale Beach.

As you regular readers of the blog will recall, Arizona-based  American Traffic Solutions and Mayor Joy Cooper have become the best of friends the past few years after she and the City Commission forced this on city residents a years ago despite their consistent opposition, in order to generate more funds for the city.

The mayor received thousands of dollars in campaign funds from ATS after writing a pro-RLC essay in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, and it's largely because of her that Hallandale Beach has became so infamous around the state on this issue.

While I'm hoping for the best since it seems like such an obvious thing to vote YES given the damning IG report on the HB CRA, personally, I believe that a vote against an audit by Comm. Sharief on Tuesday would do long-lasting damage to her public standing in Hallandale Beach, especially among its more well-informed and most-concerned residents, all of whom are super-voters.

But its her vote, so she's going to do whatever she's going to do, and if she votes NO, she will have to live with the resulting negative consequences.

-----
Given the longstanding mismanagement and corruption involving millions of dollars at the HB CRA, why has Broward IG's Office refused to hold a single public outreach mtg. with citizens in Hallandale Beach, while meeting with other Broward groups?


May 31, 2013
3:30 p.m.

RE: Given the longstanding mismanagement and corruption involving millions of dollars at the HB CRA, why has Broward IG's Office refused to hold a single public outreach mtg. with citizens in Hallandale Beach, while meeting with other Broward groups that were NOT directly affected?


Dear Commissioners Gunzburger and Sharief:

Since the question of whether or not the Broward County Commission should authorize the Office of Broward County Auditor Evan Lukic to perform a thorough audit of the Hallandale Beach Beach CRA will be coming-up at Tuesday's meeting, given the city's longstanding failure 
to have normal and effective operating quality controls over millions of dollars in place, or even pretend to have actual public accountability and thorough follow-up to ensure that  public funds were spent for their intended if ill-founded purposes, a motion that I support 100%, due to the HB City Commission/CRA Board's longstanding refusal to have a thorough audit of the entire HB CRA, i.e themselves, I'd like to bring to your  attention a related issue involving the Office of the Broward Inspector General.

Since The Commission authorized the creation of that Office a few years ago, you won't be surprised to hear that it has held several public meetings with various civic groups, affinity and social groups throughout Broward County to get their "message" out.
It's actually entirely what you'd expect.

Included among those meetings was one that was hosted in late January by the Broward League of Women Voters in Coconut Creek featuring IG John W. Scott.
I and four other very-concerned Hallandale Beach citizens actually attended that get-together at a condominium, despite its lack of proximity to HB.

But despite my personally having provided the IG's Office with a LOT of verifiable information regarding unethical and illegal conduct and behavior involving individuals in this community, esp. regarding the HB CRA, and Mr. Scott's own publicly declarations that he believes getting his office's message out is an important function -and it being brought-up at that very meeting- his office have refused to hold a single public community meeting with citizens of Hallandale Beach since his office initiated its investigation of the City of Hallandale Beach involving its missing-in-action supervision under former HB City Managers Mike Good and Mark A. Antonio involving so much mis-spent millions and missing documents, to say nothing of the missing professionalism HB taxpayers had a reasonable right to expect but never receivedDespite the fact that this city's residents and taxpayers have been personally affected by what has happened.

I have personally written to Mr. Scott on several occasions and have brought up the issues of his Office showing some good faith to this community by actually following-up on his OWN public declarations and do so for all of the most-obvious reasons.
That includes a written request to him over a week ago, yet his office has been completely, and rather curiously, non-responsive on this matter.

I strongly urge the two of you as representatives on the County Commission of this community's beleaguered citizens to contact the IG's office and remind them that they have a logical AND moral duty to speak directly and publicly with the citizens of this directly-affected city.
A duty that is at least as strong as it is to all of the many Broward groups that the IG's Office has already spoken to that are NOT directly affected at all.

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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'dALREADY 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, theCity 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 forYEARS 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.
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New this year: you!

New this year: you!
Close-up photo of the cute head-turning window display at the Apotek Hjärtat -Sweden's largest independent pharmacy chain- located at Ringvägen 113, near the Skanstull T-bana in Södermalm, Stockholm. Sign reads, "Årets nyhet: du! Ett helt nytt och obrukat år är här. Just nu känns det lite lättare att välja om, förändra vanor och bryta gamla mönster. Vi hjälper gärna till. Du vill, du kan, du törs!' (New this year: you! A brand new and unused year is here. Right now it feels a little easier to choose, change habits and break old patterns. We're happy to help. You want to, you can, you dare!) Sounds like good advice that I ought to be following, too! January 12, 2013 photo by South Beach Hoosier.© 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved

Paradise Lost? South Florida

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

A fish rots from the head down, and so does local government in Hallandale Beach, FL

A fish rots from the head down, and so does local government in Hallandale Beach, FL
City of Hallandale Beach Municipal Complex, 400 S. Federal Highway. The City of Hallandale Beach Municipal Complex: If it's true that a fish rots from the head down, so it does in local government in Broward County, FL. This monument sign on the west side of the intersection of U.S.-1 and S.E. 5th Street, across from Gulfstream Park Race Track & Casino and the Village at Gulfstream Park retail complex, alerts you to your proximity to HB City Hall and the HB Police Department HQ. It's a place and culture whose very own words and actions have made clear to taxpayers of this city -regardless of age, race or income- that it holds itself apart from and above from the very citizens it's supposed to serve, often acting like they don't have to follow the same laws that govern everyone else in the state of Florida and the U.S., whether of logic, reason or contracts. (More to the point of this blog, the Florida Statutes on Sunshine Laws and Public Records.) City employees in Hallandale Beach routinely refuse to answer perfectly reasonable questions posed to them by taxpayers, and as I have found out myself and witnessed, are not above berating you for even having the nerve to ask! As it happens, it's also not a very safe area, despite who operates here, and over the past nine years, the public parking lots have often been pitch-black for 6-9 months at a time, including in front of the HB Police Dept. HQ. Then-Police Chief Thomas Magill even shrugged his shoulders at City Comm. meetings when told about this a few times. As if they couldn't make a worse first impression, at one point, even the spotlights shining on this sign didn't work at night for over FOUR YEARS, either. October 13, 2012 photo by South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved.

Palm tree, Stars & Stripes

Palm tree, Stars & Stripes
Palm tree obstructing the sun at Hallandale Beach City Hall, May 28, 2012 photo by South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved

Gulfstream Park Race Track & Casino and Village at GP retail complex, Hallandale Beach, FL

Gulfstream Park Race Track & Casino and Village at GP retail complex, Hallandale Beach, FL
Entrance monument to Gulfstream Park Race Track & Casino and The Village at Gulfstream Park retail complex on U.S.-1 & SE 3rd St. Hallandale Beach, FL. October 5, 2010 photo by South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved

Hallandale Beach Water Tower, looking east from State Road A1A/South Ocean Drive; May 2009 photo by South Beach Hoosier.© 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved

Singer/songwriter Full of Keys (Anni Bernhard)

Singer/songwriter Full of Keys (Anni Bernhard)
Singer/songwriter Full of Keys (Anni Bernhard) wearing the teal-colored Miami Dolphins cap I gave her in January 2013 (in Stockholm) while recording her 2nd album, "The Grazing Grounds" at Sandkvie Studios in Visby, Gotland, Sweden. Also pictured here are sound engineer and co-producer Linus Larsson and musician/DJ/co-producer Mats Jönsson, April 12, 2013.Click the photo to see her videos, read my blog posts and Tweets about her and learn more about this dynamic and original talent with personality to spare!

North Miami Beach Senior High School, the Home of the Chargers

North Miami Beach Senior High School, the Home of the Chargers
Before I was a Hoosier, I was an NMB Charger, Class of 1979.

In the Heart of a Great Country, Beats the Soul of Hoosier Nation

In the Heart of a Great Country, Beats the Soul of Hoosier Nation
"In the Heart of a Great Country, Beats the Soul of Hoosier Nation." -South Beach Hoosier, 2007.

Let's end the 28-year NCAA title drought!

Let's end the 28-year NCAA title drought!
IU All-American and U.S. Olympian Steve Alford on the cover of the 1987 Indiana University basketball media guide, months after IU won the NCAA basketball title.

The NCAA Championship Banners

The NCAA Championship Banners
Assembly Hall, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana. I was there in 1981 for NCAA Title #4 vs. North Carolina. Click on photo to go to the IU Basketball homepage.

Sebastian the Ibis, the U-M mascot

Sebastian the Ibis, the U-M mascot
Like longtime U-M fans everywhere, including me, Sebastian the Ibis, the U-M mascot, hasn't had very much to cheer about lately, given the general state of mediocrity and underwhelming performances coming from the Hurricanes. Isn't it about time for fans to finally see some tangible signs that the new AD is moving things in the right direction? Where are the signs? I'm NOT seeing them. The woeful U-M Women's program is largely composed of teams that are NOT even close to being competitive for NCAA titles like their ACC competition, and they don't even field Women's Lacrosse or Field Hockey teams. It's embarrassing! Click on Sebastian for retrospective photo gallery of The Orange Bowl

ABBA

ABBA
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!

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

#Södermalm

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

Using a map of Stockholm and my Samsung mobile's Latitude app to find out where some friends and contacts in Stockholm were before I called to let them know I'd arrived from Arlanda Airport and had checked into the B&B in Södermalm. If only it had been an OpenStreetMap! January 2013 photo by South Beach Hoosier.© 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved; Click the photo to see OpenStreetMap's amazing map of Stockholm and a whole world of useful maps you never even knew existed

Solrea - Sveriges bästa resesök

Solrea - Sveriges bästa resesök
The colder and snowier it got in Stockholm, the more this simple ad seemed like genius. Sometimes, you don't have to reinvent the advertising wheel. When you're a travel agency and it's cold and snowing, make your target audience think of summers and traveling to an inviting warm beach. Above, one of the many Sistaminuten.se display ads I saw on the side of pay phones throughout Stockholm. This one was located on Ringvägen, across the street from the Åhléns Dept. store (with the Hemköp grocery store in the basement that I frequented) west of busy Götgatan and the Skanstull T-bana, the southern commercial heart of trendy and fun Södermalm. January 11, 2013 photo by South Beach Hoosier.© 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved. I used this photo in my April 22, 2013 blog post titled, Tourism game-changer for South Florida travelers & Fort Lauderdale-area businesses -but only if they're smart and start planning now. Ruminations on the upcoming Norwegian.com flights b/w Ft. Lauderdale and Oslo, Stockholm & Copenhagen, and the need for Broward's hospitality industry to take full-advantage of the opportunity; @Oslo, @norway, @stockholm, @sweden, @copenhagen, @denmark. Click photo to see that post

More travel advertising in Stockholm

More travel advertising in Stockholm
Speaking of advertising, only two blocks from the wonderful 4trappor B&B I stayed at in Södermalm, Stockholm on my trip -and also located on Ringvägen- were two more display ads promoting travel. The one in the distance is for SAS, Scandinavian Airlines Systems, which I flew on to Stockholm, and the one in the foreground, on a public telephone booth, is the "Holiday is where the Heart is" ad campaign for VING. January 12, 2013 photo by South Beach Hoosier.© 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved. Click the photo to see their TV ad!

Risk för snöras, istappar

Risk för snöras, istappar
One of the many such warning signs that I saw on buildings and on sidewalk barricades while in Stockholm in mid-January 2013, alerting you to the possibility of falling snow and ice, often by men shoveling it off roofs. This one was spotted on a residential building in the Södermalm area of Stockholm, on Ringvägen, while I was walking over to the Åhléns Department store on Götgatan. It wasn't until I was walking back later to the B&B that I noticed the inflated Santa that some resident had intentionally placed outside of their window, so it looked like Santa was falling! January 13, 2013 photo by South Beach Hoosier.© 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved.

Ringvägen, Stockholm, Sweden

Ringvägen, Stockholm, Sweden
Poster display on Ringvägen, Stockholm, Sweden. January 2013 photo by South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved. The Affischplats plan in Stockholm, while not perfect, strikes me as a pretty good compromise in helping cultural and civic groups catch the public's eye in a way that's better than a free-for-all of groups plastering posters on the sides of buildings and utility boxes, and watching as the weather makes a mess of them. The tangible effort the city makes to get the public involved in a genuine and meaningful conversation about what is going on long-term for the city as a whole, or in a particular neighborhood, is very impressive, and made me wishful that the local government employees and planners where I live and write about regularly in my blog and in conversations with other concerned civic activists did even one-third of what Stockholm's planning employees seem to do as a starting-point.