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

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?

Conservatively?
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?
ZERO!

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
Editorial
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.  
-----
http://journalism.indiana.edu/resources/erniepyle/

http://www.medill.northwestern.edu/

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Hallandale Beach Blog

Hallandale Beach Blog
Hallandale Beach Blog/South Beach Hoosier's crimson-colored Indiana University cap. If you see someone at a South Florida govt. meeting or public policy discussion wearing this IU cap, scribbling notes furiously -and shaking his head in disbelief- don't be afraid to come over and say hello or pitch prospective story ideas. Photo by South Beach Hoosier. Move your mouse over the cap and be sent to the IU Athletic Dept.'s YouTube Channel.

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

In the Heart of a Great Country, Beats the Soul of Hoosier Nation
"In the Heart of a Great Country, Beats the Soul of Hoosier Nation." -South Beach Hoosier, 2007.
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Hallandale Beach Blog is where I try to inject or superimpose a degree of accountability, transparency and insight onto Florida and local Broward County government and public policy issues, which I feel is sorely lacking in local media now. On this blog, locally, I concentrate my energy, enthusiasm, anger and laser-like attention on the coastal cities of Hallandale Beach and Hollywood.
If you lived in this part of South Florida, you'd ALREADY be stuck in stultifying traffic, paying higher-than-necessary taxes and continually musing about the chronic lack of accountability among not only elected govt. officials, but also of city, county and state employees as well. Collectively, with a few rare exceptions, they couldn't be farther from the sort of strong results-oriented, eager work-ethic mentality that local residents deserve and expect.
This is particularly true in the town I live in, the City of Hallandale Beach, just north of Aventura and south of Hollywood. There, the "Perfect Storm" of years of apathy, incompetency and cronyism are all too readily apparent.
Sadly for its residents, HB is where even easily-solved, quality-of-life problems are left to fester for YEARS on end, because of myopia, lack of common sense and ineffective supervisory management. It's a city with lots of potential because of its terrific location, yet its citizens have become numb to its outrages and screw-ups after years of the worst kind of mismanagement and lack of foresight. On a daily basis, they wake up and see the same old problems that have never being adequately resolved by the city in a logical and responsible fashion, merely kicked -once again- further down the road.
I used to ask myself, not always rhetorically, "Where are all the enterprising young reporters who want to show that through their own hard work and enterprise, what REAL investigative reporting can produce?" Hearing no response, I decided to start a blog that could do some of these things, taking the p.o.v. of a reasonable but skeptical person seeing the situation for the first time, and wanting questions answered in a honest and logical way that citizens have the right to expect.

Hallandale Beach Blog intends to be a catalyst for positive change.
If there's one constant gripe in South Florida, regardless of your age, race, nationality or political persuasion, it's about the fundamental lack of PUBLIC ACCOUNTABILITY here among Florida's state, regional and local govt./agency officials. Hallandale Beach Blog aims to be a small step towards regaining some of that needed accountability, whether it's thru simple public scrutiny, or requires a degree of follow-up investigation and public exposure of incompetency, cronyism or simple negligence -South Florida's usual governing style.
"And David put his hand in the bag and took out a stone and slung it. And it struck the Philistine on the head and he fell to the ground. Amen."- Preacher Purl encouraging the underdog Hickory High basketball team before the state title game against heavily-favored South Bend Central in 1986's Hoosiers
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0091217/
Audio of pregame speech:
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Paradise Lost? South Florida

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

Ordinary people can make a difference in fight against corruption in Broward County

The next time you hear someone in Broward County, like one of the usual "experts" or pundits or maybe a self-interested lobbyist like Joy Cooper's supercilious pal Judy Stern repeat the Conventional Wisdom that nobody really cares about ethical behavior, transparency and accountability in Broward cities, except a handful of people, just keep this in mind.
As of March 6, 2014 at 12:30 p.m., in the 84 weeks since I first wrote my October 15th 2012 post titled, "Ethics? Not for us! Follow-up to my post re Hallandale Beach's unethical "business as usual" attitude, with "special rules for special people" if they are named Joy Cooper, Bill Julian and Anthony A. Sanders; What ethics? What rules? @MayorCooper, @SandersHB" it's been viewed 183,914 times. That's MORE than TWO THOUSAND page views a week! Imagine that!
That total doesn't even include the number of people who saw it the day it was first posted, when it was the default post of the blog. That's a lot of people who now know a lot more facts about the truth regarding the corruption and incompetency that have been commonplace in Hallandale Beach all these years while Broward State's Attorney Mike Satz and his staff did NOTHING. Just saying...
The South Florida I Grew Up In
Excerpted from Joan Didion's Miami, 1987, Simon & Schuster:
In the continuing opera still called, even by Cubans who have now lived the largest part of their lives in this country, el exilo, the exile, meetings at private homes in Miami Beach are seen to have consequences. The actions of individuals are seen to affect events directly. Revolutions and counter-revolutions are framed in the private sector, and the state security apparatus exists exclusively to be enlisted by one or another private player. That this particular political style, indigenous to the Caribbean and to Central America, has now been naturalized in the United States is one reason why, on the flat coastal swamps of South Florida, where the palmettos once blew over the detritus of a dozen failed booms and the hotels were boarded up six months a year, there has evolved since the early New Year's morning in 1959 when Fulgencio Batista flew for the last time out of Havana a settlement of considerable interest, not exactly an American city as American cities have until recently been understood but a tropical capital: long on rumor, short on memory, overbuilt on the chimera of runaway money and referring not to New York or Boston or Los Angeles or Atlanta but to Caracas and Mexico, to Havana and to Bogota and to Paris and Madrid. Of American cities Miami has since 1959 connected only to Washington, which is the peculiarity of both places, and increasingly the warp...

"The general wildness, the eternal labyrinths of waters and marshes, interlocked and apparently neverending; the whole surrounded by interminable swamps... Here I am then in the Floridas, thought I," John James Audobon wrote to the editor of The Monthly American Journal of Geology and Natural Science during the course of an 1831 foray in the territory then still called the Floridas. The place came first, and to touch down there is to begin to understand why at least six administrations now have found South Florida so fecund a colony. I never passed through security for a flight to Miami without experiencing a certain weightlessness, the heightened wariness of having left the developed world for a more fluid atmosphere, one in which the native distrust of extreme possibilities that tended to ground the temperate United States in an obeisance to democratic institutions seemed rooted, if at all, only shallowly. At the gate for such flights the preferred language was already Spanish. Delays were explained by weather in Panama. The very names of the scheduled destinations suggested a world in which many evangelical inclinations had historically been accommodated, many yearnings toward empire indulged...

In this mood Miami seemed not a city at all but a tale, a romance of the tropics, a kind of waking dream in which any possibility could and would be accommodated...

Nice from a distance, not so nice once you're there and see the years of City Hall's neglect

Nice from a distance, not so nice once you're there and see the years of City Hall's neglect
The public beach that is "North Beach" in Hallandale Beach, FL. June 19, 2012 photo by South Beach Hoosier.© 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved

So this is where our tax dollars go to die?

"So this is where our tax dollars go to die? My friend and fellow civic activist Csaba Kulin, perhaps wondering when we're FINALLY going to get the clean and inviting public beach that Hallandale Beach residents believe we're entitled to but have never received under Mayor Cooper and her Rubber Stamp Crew.
Instead, we get rusty pipes in the middle of the beach and garbage cans on the beach -without lids- at the windiest place in the entire city. And a public building across the street from the beach that the public can't use for free but which city employees can -for their holiday parties." Click photo to see many more photos of the site and the original post, or http://hallandalebeachblog.blogspot.com/2012/06/latest-info-photos-re-related-groups.html; 2012 photo by South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved

Just as true now as it was when it was written in June 2012!

The View from the Hallandale Beach/Hollywood city line

The View from the Hallandale Beach/Hollywood city line
Looking south towards The Beach Club and the Hallandale Beach Water Tower on A1A from the beach, near the Hollywood cityline, May 2, 2009 photo by South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved

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

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

Looking east on State Road 858/Hallandale Beach Blvd.

Looking east  on State Road 858/Hallandale Beach Blvd.
Looking east on State Road 858/Hallandale Beach Blvd., over the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway bridge, toward the iconic Hallandale Beach Water Tower and the three condo towers comprising The Beach Club. September 8, 2008 photo by South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved

Hallandale Beach Water Tower on A1A/South Ocean Drive

Hallandale Beach Water Tower on A1A/South Ocean Drive
Hallandale Beach Water Tower on A1A/South Ocean Drive. Located below the Hallandale Beach Water Tower on A1A/South Ocean Drive, on the south side (right) is the "Community Center" that HB City Hall, thru their gross incompetency, has made impossible for HB citizen taxpayers to use now for 41 MONTHS as of January 2011. (And where's the American flag on the Fourth of July weekend? Missing in action as it had been for months!) July 3, 2009 photo by South Beach Hoosier. © 2012 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved

Looking towards southern Hollywood Beach

Looking towards southern Hollywood Beach
Trump Hollywood, Diplomat Residences, Westin Diplomat, Crowne Resort. Looking NE towards Hollywood on State Road A1A from the 2500 block of East Hallandale Beach Blvd./State Road 858 just before crossing the Intracoastal Bridge: (l-r) Trump Hollywood, Diplomat Residences, the Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa, the Crowne Plaza Hollywood Beach. March 25, 2009 photo by South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved

The Related Group's The Beach Club, consisting of three condo towers

The Related Group's The Beach Club, consisting of three condo towers
The Beach Club. Looking SE at The Beach Club from the Hollywood side of State Road A1A. May 12, 2008 photo by South Beach Hoosier. © 2012 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved

City of Hollywood City Hall, 2600 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, FL

City of Hollywood City Hall, 2600 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, FL
City of Hollywood City Hall. An early morning shot of the east side of Hollywood City Hall the morning of the Johnson Street Redevelopment RFP Evaluation Committee meeting, where presentations were heard; October 14, 2009 photo by South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved. For more info on what's going on with this important project, see http://www.hollywoodfl.org/html/JohnsonStBeachRFP.htm

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sebastian the Ibis, the U-M mascot

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

Championship banners

The NCAA Championship Banners

The NCAA Championship Banners
Assembly Hall, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana. I was there in 1981 for NCAA Title #4 vs. North Carolina. Click on photo to go to the IU Basketball homepage.
Perhaps you'll enjoy this view more!

We Are IU (Official Version) 2013

Let's end the 27-year NCAA title drought!

Let's end the 27-year NCAA title drought!
IU All-American and U.S. Olympian Steve Alford on the cover of the 1987 Indiana University basketball media guide, months after IU won the NCAA basketball title.

Here's the first banner of the Crean Era

Our five NCAA Basketball Championship banners are on the north side of the court; I was there for 1981's.

Miami Dolphins QB capable of winning 2 playoff games in a row is NOT on roster now