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.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Proving that at least one Florida newspaper takes its public role seriously in 2013, the Lakeland Ledger takes no prisoners in its scathing editorial on the City of Winter Haven and City Manager Deric Feacher for abusing Florida's Government-in-the-Sunshine Laws -and his own citizens. Unfortunately, that sort of consistent moral backbone doesn't exist in South Florida at the two floundering newspapers, South Florida Sun-Sentinel and Miami Herald. They're content largely to just phone it in -and it shows! That's part of the reason they have the circulation problems they do

"Nancy Drew - Reporter"  - 1938 (Original Trailer). The apple of her father's eye! Leading River Heights attorney Carson Drew's teen sleuth daughter, Nancy, (Bonita Granville) is fast on the case and she won't stop until the mystery is solved and the story is told! Nancy would have been all over the Hallandale Beach CRA scandal here and taken no prisoners as she zeroed-in on all the questionable grant and loan recipients, shadowing them to see what they were really doing with the city money they were given, and seen whether any of the so-called projects they received the money for ever actually were accomplished. Unlike HB City Hall's high-paid minions, who didn't care what happened to the city's money and did no follow-up at all as the Broward Inspector General's final report makes clear.
Our Nancy -along with Ned Nickerson- would've had lots of fun playing tricks and mind games on HB Comm. Anthony A. Sanders and Comm. Alexander Lewy until they finally stopped their foolish and tiresome -to say nothing of transparent!- efforts to funnel CRA money into Northwest HB with no real tangible plan other than to keep their political pals there happy, with typical lip service when pressed to explain their antics. Yes, our Nancy, being an intelligent and solid reporter, would've dug deep into the public records and might've even asked publicly in a column at the River Heights Tribune: "How come Comm. Lewy received an award from a prominent Broward County Jewish group whom just a few scant months before, he had voted to give one of their leaders a sweetheart CRA deal to, despite it actually being evident that it was to HB taxpayers great disadvantage? Very curious."
Yes, Nancy would've already had that particular story published by now, unlike the Miami Herald and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, whose own reporters have yet to ever mention a single word about it in-print.  
After reading this fantastic Lakeland Ledger editorial below, which appeared in-print last weekend, ask yourself a good question.

How many times, conservatively, over the past nine years, should we have -and could we have- seen such an editorial about the City of Hallandale Beach's consistently anti-democratic, conduct during what are labeled as "public meetings" in Hallandale Beach under Mayor Joy Cooper, and past City Managers Mike Good and Mark A. Antonio and current City Manager Renee C. Miller?

Dozens and dozens of times, including the city's all-day "Visioning" meeting held in February, where HB citizens who showed-up were NOT allowed to make any comments, ask any questions, or even allowed to point out actual mistakes in claims made by the city's elected officials and employees that were not backed-up by the facts or reality -or both?

Or as I wrote here on March 2nd:
'Visioning' and Public Participation: Comparing and contrasting Ft. Lauderdale and Hallandale Beach's approach to planning for the future -one is open to constructive criticism & suggestions from its populace, and the other is stealthy and closed-minded. Guess which one I live in?; @MayorCooper

But given these dozens of opportunities to shed some light on the untoward  behavior taking place right where everyone could see what they were doing -and by they, of course, I mean Mayor Joy Cooper and her Rubber Stamp Crew, plus the City Manager at the time- how many times did the Miami Herald or South Florida Sun-Sentinel rise to the occasion and do the appropriate thing by saying what happened in-print?

Fairly recently, the Miami Herald went the better part of an entire year without sending a reporter to HB City Hall a single time to cover the public's business.

When did these two newspapers give even one example of the many dozens that we've all experienced at HB City Hall the past ten years, where Mayor Cooper and her Rubber Stamp Crew treated those of us in the audience with contempt, as the enemy, and just continued apace with their anti-taxpayer, anti-Sunshine Law behavior?
Not once.

The Herald in particular, as you recall, not only went out of its way to NOT report on some issues that I repeatedly gave their reporters and editors -and top management- on a silver tray, they even seemed unwilling to give due credit to someone who deserved it -my friend, Csaba Kulin- for uncovering devastating financial information re the city's pension plan for top management that even today, HB City Hall can't explain with a straight face and STILL CAN'T  provide documents on:

Csaba Kulin gets the Miami Herald's whitewash treatment: McClatchy's Co.'s Herald practices the opposite of giving credit where credit is due, editing out the name of the one person in South Florida most-responsible for finding out why and how 3 former Hallandale Beach City Managers will soon be multi-millionaires with taxpayer dollars; a story that Miami Herald reporters, editors and management have completely ignored for years!

The facts speak for themselves.

Some newspapers get it and some don't.

Here's one that does:

Lakeland Ledger
Landings Settlement Talks: City of Secrecy
Published: Sunday, April 28, 2013 at 12:01 a.m.
Last Monday, the Winter Haven City Commission, and residents attending the board's meeting, hoped to hear a solution to one of the city's most divisive issues of recent years, The Landings.City Manager Deric Feacher gave a report, the details of which he had kept secret, and the commission discussed Feacher's findings — for a total of 1 hour, 8 minutes.
The comment time allotted to residents in the audience to talk about the report: zero.
Not only has the city government made a mess of a project meant to improve its best tract of land, which overlooks Lake Lulu and holds great memories for many in Winter Haven, it has allowed the also revered statewide process of government in the sunshine to collapse within City Hall.
Read the rest of the editorial at:
*Make sure you read all three pages

So it's clear that it's not just those of us in Hallandale Beach who've been paying salaries for City Managers and their high-paid help who've actively work against the best interests of taxpayers, residents and small business-owners, trying their best to prevent them from participating in participatory democracy and NOT making public information available ASAP
even while lobbyists and contractors have it.

But because it HAS been going on here for years, it often feels much worse because the facts are pretty clear that, for whatever reasons, most of the South Florida news media -with the exception of a handful of people whom I won't name here- clearly DON'T want to report the truth about what's really been going on here for years, with far too many reporters and columnists content to either just look the other way or engage in one-dimensional stenography.

And that's just when reporters can be convinced to actually show-up,
But actually paying attention, though?
That's an extra burden, so getting them to put two and two together and getting four, or actually doing some shoe-leather reporting and and following-up on longstanding problems in a meaningful way?
No, they don't that that and they don't promise to connect the dots or even come to any solid conclusions.

The incidents cited in the Broward Inspector General's Office on the City of Hallandale Beach didn't just happen a few minutes ago, they were ongoing for YEARS.
But what did the local papers report on?

It's like every time reporters show-up at 400. S. Federal Highway, they ignore all the pieces of the puzzle that are already in evidence on the table, and already connected, and instead, are surprised and unsure of what to make of the pieces on the table, like they have no idea what it all is.

It's so infuriating and the thing that always gets me is that so many of the reporters who do occasionally show-up have no serious idea of how loathed they are by the people in town who really are well-informed. No idea at all.
But justifiably loathed they are.
THAT is how oblivious they are.

As I've stated here previously, if I had the power, with the exception of those un-named reporters I alluded to before, I'd replace almost every print and TV reporter in South Florida with recent journalism grads of Ernie Pyle at IU or Medill at Northwestern and Cal-Berkeley, and a few other places if I could, because they still have their natural curiosity and are not jaded,  cowed or resigned the way so many of the current crop are, many of whom haven't been rotated to another beat in many years and seem to me to have grown a little too fond of writing about their favorite pols and excusing things that fresher eyes would fully investigate instead of passing up on. 
(Sorry, no Columbia J-School or University of Florida J-School grads, please.)

The current crew are no Nancy Drews, that's for sure, since she always put the pieces of the puzzle together and solved the mystery, no matter how obtuse.

Though it's been needed for many years, the Miami Herald and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel have resisted writing full-barreled editorials like the oen in the Ledger I've brought to your attention today.
Ones that zero-in on completely un-acceptable behavior by elected municipal officials and city employees and open them up to long -verdue public scrutiny.

The Herald and Sun-Sentinel just take a pass on that sort of thing and continue snoozing.  


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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