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, May 6, 2013

More Transit Policy Woes in South Florida: With stealthy and self-sabotaging friends like All Aboard Florida and SFRTA/Tri-Rail, pro-transit advocates in South Florida don't need any more enemies; 'All Aboard Florida' fails to schedule a single public scoping meeting in Broward County this Spring despite Fort Lauderdale being a proposed station, while SFRTA chief refuses to answer a simple question -Will Hallandale Beach have a station under the proposed Coastal line plan?; Just because you're pro-transit doesn't mean you have to ignore displays of transit incompetency or mismanagement when you see it!


Tri-Rail Coastal Link, partner56239248 YouTube Channel: Tri-Rail Coastal Link, Uploaded April 28, 2013. http://youtu.be/fFZR6ljK3og

And as if I didn't have enough to say about South Florida transit issues and the way taxpayers and customers are often taken for granted or treated in either a patronizing or condecending fashion by transit agencies or transit groups, it seems that Tri-Rail is guilty of engaging in historical revisionism, too, as caught by eagle-eyed writer Sean McCaughan, above and below below to devastating effect. 
Congrats to him for seeing the situation for exactly what it is and not being duped as they intended.

http://miami.curbed.com/
Tri-Rail Coastal Link Video Rewrites Miami's History, Gives Richard Florida All The Credit
by Sean McCaughan
Thursday, May 2, 2013, 
http://miami.curbed.com/archives/2013/05/02/trirail-coastal-link-video-rewrites-miamis-history-gives-richard-florida-all-the-credit.php

Below is a copy of an email I wrote and sent last Tuesday about the continuing communication and outreach problems afflicting some transit agencies and transit-oriented groups in the State of Florida, far too many of whom, it has been my misfortune to see over the years, have an often over-inflated image of their own role and influence in the larger scheme of public affairs.
Some even seem to live in their own world, where they set their own rules.

That's a fantasy world, of course, but sometimes, well-intentioned outsiders, like reporters or bloggers, are reluctant to pop their balloon and ruin the illusion they've created of being important.
A world where they're rarely if ever held to account by the public at large, and more specifically, by local taxpayers or residents affected by various transit plans and schemes.
Me, I'm not afraid of popping other people's illusions, so this blog post today should be read for exactly what it is -me bursting some bubbles.

That fantasy public policy world I've just described is what many of us who are paying attention think of as the bad side of South Florida policy, where some self-interested types with connections or degrees or letters after their names, often think their access to the public teat is unlimited, and can never be turned off.
This allows them, or so they think, to act with varying degrees of patronizing indifference and condescension towards the public and customers.
(Think The Beacon Council and MDX, for instance!)

As it applies to the world of public transit and planning and design, they're under the mistaken impression that people who generally are pro-transit, especially those in favor of long-range trains or short-range commuter trains, like me, will just pretend they don't see displays of incompetency, stupidity and arrogance when it's right smack in front of them.
Well, not me.

The email was sent to Broward County Commissioners Sue Gunzburger, Barbara Sharief, Chip LaMarca, Tim Ryan, Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler, with a cc to Florida Dept. of Transportation (FDOT) Secretary Ananth Prasad in Tallahassee.

It was also sent as a bcc to well over a hundred interested parties located between here and U.S. DOT HQ in Washington, D.C., with multiple stops in Tallahassee, Orlando and Broward County, and, necessarily, included other South Florida mayors, city commissioners and city mangers, as well as to certain selected reporters, foundations, non-profits, transportation websites and bloggers.
Naturally, that list started with the great folks over at Transit Miamihttp://www.transitmiami.com/

As much as I'd relish the opportunity to ask the folks at All Aboard Florida face-to-face at this afternoon's 4:30 p.m. meeting in Miami -with my video camera rollinghow they square intentionally ignoring Broward County 's residents  with an honest effort to engage in outreach to the South Florida public, there's zero chance I will be attending it, since going into downtown Miami late in the afternoon is truly a fool's errand.
More so if you are starting from Broward County, even if, like me, you're just north of Aventura.

Besides, did you see where the geniuses involved have scheduled the meeting?
1600 N.W. 3rd Avenue, as show below in Google Maps.

What a great location for a transportation meeting!

Yes, in keeping with what apparently is the genius brains at work over at All Aboard Florida.
they've consciously chosen to NOT locate the meeting close to the FEC tracks they plan on using in the future,or, anywhere near where the most-likely customers of the service will be coming from, but rather in the Overtown/Culmer neighborhood of Miami.
Awesome!

For those of you who are reading this far from these shores, or, even those of you reading it closer-at-hand but not hip to that address, it's NOT exactly the safest place in Miami at the time when the meeting will be wrapping up at night.
Congrats for all the bad planning and bad outreach, folks!

Yes, hard as it is to believe, it appears that the folks behind this All Aboard Florida scheme seem not to have even considered the real possibility that prospective customers or taxpayers like you or me can support the overall goal, but NOT like or support going forward with it with the particular group of managers attached to it now, since they sure don't seem very smart or savvy in trying to get their OWN message out to people who would actually be supporters or customers in the future.
It's called knowing your universe.

(It's like the 'Florida Marlins' screwed-up marketing/outreach for so many years while they were playing at Dolphins Stadium near the Broward and Miami-Dade county line,  where, despite well over 60% of their season ticket holders living in Broward and Palm Beach counties because of the ease of the drive to the stadium via the next-door Florida Turnpike, the Marlins refused to show common sense and place a store or even small kiosks at nearby destination shopping malls like Aventura Mall or Pembroke Lakes Mall, where actual baseball fans and families go to shop.

No, instead, showing their customary arrogance and bad judgment, they had their one-and-only store located in Little Havana. Really.
Yes, the continuing myth of the Little Havana baseball fan dies hard.
But the reality was that those fans would listen to the games on the radio (in Spanish) and buy a Marlins ball cap every 5-6 years, but would only actually go to a game every few years. Look how well that worked! Thud

Good luck Marlins getting casual baseball fans who live in or north of Fort Lauderdale to head down to Little Havana with their kids on a Tuesday school night when the Padres and Rockies come to town!)

It's just like how beleaguered fans of the Dolphins or the Marlins can root for the players but NOT like or support their owners, and, frankly, rather hope that Stephen Ross and Jeffrey Loria meet their demise sooner rather than later, so that fans don't have to continue to be so conflicted with their emotions towards the teams.

Clearly if ignoring Broward residents on purpose is part of the All Aboard Florida playbook, it's NOT a Silver Linings Playbook, but rather one of a dog chasing its tail, over-and-over. A public policy story that some of us have seen played-out in South Florida for well over forty years already, with all the disastrous and logical results we see around us today as proof.

By the way, as of today, May 6th, 24 days since I sent that email to Joseph Giulietti, the head of SFRTA/Tri-Railabout prospects for a Tri-Rail Coastal commuter station in Hallandale Beach, I still have NOT heard from him or his staff. 
Too late!
My patience with him and their indifference to taxpayers has officially expired.

-----

April 30, 2013
1:30 p.m.

Do any of you have any idea why there isn't a single scheduled All Aboard Florida scoping meeting being held in Broward County, esp. In FTL, the only currently-announced prospective station in the entire county?

Prior to starting this email to you today. I checked their website and went through their archives, http://www.allaboardflorida.com/ to see if there'd already been a public meeting in Broward somewhere that I somehow missed out on hearing about.
I don't know, maybe something that took place while I was in Sweden back in mid-January, and ignoring everything locally right before my trip?
No, nothing's already been held in Broward -and there's nothing scheduled
for Broward in the near-future, either.
   
If you know the answer to this question or have a good guess, please let me know...

I'll be sure to mention this lack of common sense to anyone I know whom I run into at the Broward MPO's Commitment 2040 meeting at the Hallandale Beach Cultural Center on Thursday 

Somehow, I think they won't be surprised.
But then how could they be?

This screw-up with All Aboard Florida ignoring Broward County residents is just the latest in a series of completely inexplicable decisions involving transit in South Florida that make it hard for a longtime pro-transit advocate like myself to have much faith in either the "system" or the people who are supposed to be running and managing transit and transit-related issues in
South Florida, as well as public outreach.
They always find a way to let you down.

Over two weeks ago, for the second time, I contacted SFRTA/Tri-Rail to get them to say definitively, one way or the other, whether their current plans for utilizing the FEC tracks foresee a train station in Hallandale Beach or not, since their current plans on their website for a Coastal line state that Hallandale Beach will NOT have a station.

But we all know that there can always be closely-held but public information that they have which they have not yet chosen to place on their public website, which is why my email to them needed to be sent -to get the truth.

As you can see at the bottom of this email, I contacted SFRTA Executive Director Joseph Giulietti on April 12th to get his input, since he'd surely know better than anyone what was what.
And again, I'd already contacted them back in late January with this same basic questions, and never heard anything, which is how and why I specifically wrote to Mr. Giulietti earlier this month.

The response after 18 days: nothing from him, nothing from his staff -just lots and lots of NOTHING.

Like I said earlier, "They always find a way to let you down."

For now, just color me underwhelmed at the self-evident oversights that characterize South Florida transit, where, with the current cast of characters in place making policy decisions that affect lots of people and cities in this region, it's hard not to notice that taxpayers and customers almost always come in last.

DBS, Nine-year Hallandale Beach resident 
-----


This ad appeared in last Wednesday's Miami Herald.


Published in Miami Herald on Wednesday, April 24, 2013

re Prospective commuter train station in Hallandale Beach on FEC tracks; ULI's FEC Corridor mtg. on April 17th

April 12, 2013



Dear Mr. Giulietti:

I'm writing to you today on behalf of myself and a number of other very concerned
Hallandale Beach residents, business owners and SE Broward civic activists.

We are all greatly concerned that a tremendous opportunity is being lost due
to a lack of appropriate hard work, proper preparation and due diligence by
local Hallandale Beach elected officials, the current and past two City Managers,
as well as the HB Chamber of Commerce, whose reputation for myopia and
sloth continues to grow by the year.
So we are both concerned AND frustrated!

I'm a longtime public transit proponent, someone who personally used public
transit nearly every day when I lived in Chicago, Evanston and Wilmette in
the mid-1980's, and in the case of Wilmette, I lived on the very street, Linden,
that was the northern terminus of the El.
(Great in the mornings, with my choice of seats, not so great when
catching a train home after work in The Loop!) 

When I moved to the Washington, D.C. area in 1988, I used the Metro even
more than I had the El, and most of those 15 years I lived near the Ballston
Metro Station that was located one block away from the National Science
Foundationlocation they had chosen -just like me- specifically because
of its proximity to the Metro train system.

In total, roughly 18 years of consistently using a train just about every day
to get to and from work, to sporting events and culture and Reagan National
Airport, as well as to check-out places on weekends with friends that we'd
read or heard about, but never felt like driving to because of well-known parking
hassles.
I've personally seen up-close what works -and what doesn't- with
urban trains and why.

Since moving back to South Florida in 2003, I've consistently used my blog
and appearances at germane City, County, State, SFECC and planning
meetings to strongly encourage and advocate for the sorts of useful tools
for residents that I believe can create a positive business and Quality-of-Life
dynamic that's long been missing from South Florida.
Actually, one that has never existed here.

To my mind, the smartest and most-logical tool for positive change is the
creation of a well-managed commuter rail along the FEC tracks between
downtown Miami and West Palm Beach that's both efficient and easy to
access, but which also takes human behavior into account, esp. South
Florida's often frustrating counter-intuitive mindset.

That all said, what I'd specifically like to hear from you today is an answer
to a simple question that my friends and I can digest and think about in
advance of ULI's FEC Corridor meeting in FTL on April 17th, which I will
likely be attending with some friends and civic activists.

Based on all your knowledge of the situation, Mr. Giuliettiis it fair to say,
as I have publicly, that based on the current proposed plans made public
thus far, Hallandale Beach is NOT currently going to have even one train
station along the FEC route, regardless of who is operating it?

I ask because after years of attending SFECC meetings and closely following
all news articles and blog posts about the FEC, including the last two
South Florida Business Journal articles about you and the FEC Corridor
to say nothing of the current official Tri-Rail Coastal plan as it exists on
your website, where it has been for well over a year,
simply put, we need to know the truth.

The facts seem pretty clear to us -the plans do NOT currently show ANY
stops in Hallandale Beach.
Not one.

One of the reasons that we're very concerned about knowing the truth is
because in our opinion, esp. mine, Hallandale Beach City Hall's elected
officials and management have completely failed its residents and business
community by doing an absolutely abysmal job over the years of doing
their proper due diligence to make sure that they and this community
know exactly what's going on with this subject.
And, more importantly, are fully-prepared to do what is necessary
to use properly-located train station here as an economic ripple
that becomes wave of success.

In short, frankly, to just be the sort of normal place that I took for granted
while living in Evanston and in Arlington County, and have seen more
recently on a nine-day trip to Stockholm, where they combine fun and
functionality in often surprising and amusing ways that creates a real
dynamism & buzz.
And, a sense of place.

That's especially the case with small businesses currently located next
to and near the FEC, like the city's so-called Fashion Row, who have
seen the city's leaders and managers routinely get basic facts about the
FEC effort wrong, something I've witnessed too many times to mention
here, and which are always exasperating, no matter how many times
you've witnessed it.

When we've needed a modicum of logic and common sense, hard work
and attention to detail on this matter from HB City Hall, we've instead
gotten mis-statements, finger-pointing and spin.
Mr. Giulietti, at this point, we just want to know the truth.

Sincerely,
DBS
----------
Below, excerpts of recent emails I've sent to try to elicit more HB residents
and business owners attending Wednesday's meeting 

On Apr 2, 2013 1:43 PM, "DBS" wrote:
As you can see below, I saw another mention this morning of the FEC Corridor 
meeting on April 17th that I mentioned to some of you last night.
I also just noticed that Debbie Orshefsky is going to be the moderator.

I called ULI this morning, the host of the meeting, and was told that the meeting
room at the Sheraton Ft. Lauderdale Airport Hotel, which I've never been to
before, had a capacity of about 300, which is good, so it won't be in a cramped
"hospitality room" environment where you feel like your elbow is in someone
else's ribs even when you're sitting.
That is to say, exactly like my American Airlines flight from O'Hare to FLL
coming back from Stockholm in January, unlike the SAS part of the trip.

I'm also going to be posting ULI's info about the meeting on my blog on Thursday.

Dave


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Miami Urbanist
Date: Tue, Apr 2, 2013 at 8:03 AM
Subject: Miami Urbanist Updates

Apr 01, 2013 11:19 am | Felipe Azenha

----

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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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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.