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 and Europe, especially the UK 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.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

City of Hallandale Beach thumbs its nose at the FL Joint Legislative Auditing Comm., even as the common sense rationale for JLAC to perform a thorough audit of the entire Hallandale Beach CRA has NEVER been more overwhelming -or more desperately needed by the citizens of this community -after hearing the continued obfuscation and spin of Messrs Cooper, Lewy & Sanders after years of their personal mischief & neglect that has gotten the city's CRA in this mess in the first place. THEIR personal lack of oversight and accountability for the crony capitalism merry-go-round that they were only too happy to feed with CRA dollars. "Faster! Faster! Faster!" they yelled like small children. Meanwhile, CRA Attorney Zelikow is oblivious to the numerous conflicts-of-interests right in front of him. Oblivious, myopic, it's all the same thing when poor oversight is apparent like it is here in Hallandale Beach

 
 July 10, 2013 photo by South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved. The photo of HB City Hall above was snapped on my way into Wednesday's meeting that proved to be such a truly embarrassing debacle for long-overdue accountability and transparency for the taxpayers of this city, who are perpetually run roughshod over by Mayor Joy Cooper and her current Rubber Stamp Crew of Alexander Lewy and Anthony A. Sanders. 
The City of Hallandale Beach thumbs its nose at the FL Joint Legislative Auditing Comm., even as the common sense rationale for JLAC to perform a thorough audit of the entire Hallandale Beach CRA has NEVER been more overwhelming -or more desperately needed by the citizens of this community -after hearing the continued obfuscation and spin of Messrs Cooper, Lewy & Sanders after years of their personal mischief & neglect that has gotten the city's CRA in this mess in the first place. THEIR personal lack of oversight and accountability for the crony capitalism merry-go-round that they were only too happy to feed with CRA dollars. "Faster! Faster! Faster!" they yelled like small children. Meanwhile, CRA Attorney Zelikow is oblivious to the numerous conflicts-of-interests right in front of him. Oblivious, myopic, it's all the same thing when poor oversight is apparent like it is here in Hallandale Beach
------


The tweet the next day in the Broward Bulldog, a genuine journalistic enterprise, unlike the faux newspaper that receives a sweetheart CRA loan and comes complete with a propaganda column by Mayor Joy Cooper.

Wednesday night the City of Hallandale Beach City Commission thumbed its nose at the bipartisan Florida Joint Legislative Auditing Committee (JLAC), voting 3-2 to reject JLAC's formal request that the Hallandale Beach CRA Board of Directors -the five-member City Commission- get an Attorney General's Opinion from FL Attorney General Pam Bondi's office. 

Voting against the specific JLAC request: 
Hallandale Beach Mayor Joy Cooper -by phone on her vacation somewhere in the worldand HB Commissioners Alexander Lewy and Anthony A. Sanders.
Voting to comply with JLAC request: HB Commissioners Michele Lazarow and William Julian.

At one point in the frequently confounding and rambling discussion that so often willfully ignored common sense and the past ten years of history in thsi town, when HB CRA Attorney Steven W. Zelkowitz (of GrayRobinson PA) was saying why he believed the HB CRA Board should NOT accede to the JLAC's common sense request and instead listen to himself and Hallandale Beach City Attorney V. Lynn Whitfield, Zelkowitz commented that FL Attorney General Pam Bondi -and presumably her office full of experienced litigatorshad no more expertise in CRA law and related matters than anyone else, and that she was just a member of the Florida Bar just like him.

Essentially, Zelkowitz was telling his bosses and the people of this city that AG Bondi's opinion was due no special deference, so why bother asking for it, even though it's free?
No, don't do that, instead, better to listen to the two attorneys on the dais.
Which is not too self-serving and parochial, now is it?


July 10, 2013 photo by South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved

More than is usually the case at a meeting at HB City Hall, it's really too bad you readers could not have been present as eyewitnesses in the Commission Chambers and heard the venom and self-justifying nonsense coming from Mayor Cooper over the the poor quality public loudspeaker when she was speaking and frequently interrupting others about about how neither the Broward Inspector General's Office or the JLAC had the authority to demand anything of them, much less, make them pay back funds to the city CRA that were used for things that are (clearly) inappropriate.
Like fireworks.

In her first few months on the job last Summer, HB City Manager Renee Miller made quite a concerted effort to be seen around town in public as a genuine reformer and genuine believer in and practitioner of meaningful transparency -perhaps to curry the acceptance of the reform element of this city with which I and my friends are associated with, even in her personal conversations with them and me.

Unfortunately, in the ensuing months, Miller has, thru her own actions and words, revealed herself to be anything but that much-needed reformer for this town's frustrated citizens taxpayers.

Instead of being that much-desired breath-of-fresh-air, Miller has been no change at all from her immediate predecessors, Mike Good and Mark A. Antonio, who realized that the secret to their keeping their job was being able to count to one -and keeping Mayor Cooper happy.

Even if that meant pretty much ignoring the desires, opinions and policy choices of the other four elected members of the HB City Commission, a fact that's been obvious to anyone paying attention.

On Wednesday night, HB City Manager Miller was particularly adamant about the city NOT paying back any funds to the CRA.
The CRA that -surprise- she is the Director of.

Wednesday night was classic cocksure and autocratic Joy Cooper, constantly maligning people and groups with a different perspective and impugning the true motives of others.

Even those that weren't there in the room to defend themselves, like the JLAC, who certainly never expected that anyone who had fallen into such a financial and ethical hole like the city's CRA has has fallen into under Cooper the past ten years, would have the gall to question the bona fides and motives of the very people trying to throw her and the CRA a rope to get out of the hole.
But question and malign them she did -it's who she is.

I taped the whole meeting and at times could barely control my frustration at what I was seeing and hearing, but then that's how every meeting with Mayor Cooper goes, since logic and reason never intersect, and her aggrieved sense of pettiness, the perpetual chip on her shoulder that she parades around with, is treated like it was the same thing as immutable facts.

If many of you readers far from these shores had been there, you'd have gotten an eagle's-eye view of what sort of seriously disconnected elected officials and city administrators HB citizens have been up against for years at HB City Hall in their efforts to get to the truth about where all the money went.

Their battles to get an honest audit of the whole CRA, not the mini-audit of selected area of the CRA that the city did a few years ago, which made Marcum LLP's report a must-read whodunit, full of anonymous or ghost-like employees who must've removed all those massive amounts of files and documents they couldn't ever find, and hundreds and hundreds of exceptions to the city's very own rules.

That. of course, is to say nothing of all of the city employees approving money going out without checking for appropriate forms or approval or was even being spent for the purposes for which it was intended...

(And that was just in the small portion of the CRA that the City Commission would allow to be examined, since as the folks from Marcum LLP were always at great pains to remind everyone, what they did was NOT, technically an audit.

MARCH 9, 2012
Wednesday night's HB City Comm. mtg. re the gory details of Marcum LLP's audit of the City of Hallandale Beach and its entrenched anti-Sunshine, anti-taxpayer culture
http://hallandalebeachblog.blogspot.com/2012/03/wednesday-nights-hb-city-comm-mtg-re.html

MARCH 7, 2012
Csaba Kulin continues connecting-the-dots on Marcum LLP's devastating audit of Hallandale Beach, revealing how city's own rules were routinely broken and leaving taxpayers on the hook

MARCH 6, 2012
More on the $20 Million of Hallandale Beach city contracts that went unchecked -Csaba Kulin re Marcum LLP's limited audit of "Exceptional" Hallandale Beach City Hall and its longstanding dysfunctional practices that insult HB taxpayers
http://hallandalebeachblog.blogspot.com/2012/03/more-on-20-million-of-hallandale-beach.html )

After the despicable performance by Cooper, Lewy & Sanders, the common sense rationale for JLAC performing a thorough audit of the entire HB CRA has never been more overwhelming -or more desperately needed by the citizens of this community.

And what can you say about Steven Zelkowitz, the HB CRA attorney, the hired-hand from GrayRobinson PA  who doesn't realize or doesn't care that Murvin Wright of the CRA Advisory Board -appointed by Mayor Cooper!- and whose meetings Zelkowitz is supposed to attend, is a walking/talking poster boy for conflict-of-interests. 
But Zekowitz is THE expert. LOL!

Don't know what's worse, that Zelkowitz really believes what he says or that he's dumb enough or naive enough to continue to believe what he hears from the very people at HB City Hall who've been guilty of trying so hard to hide the truth and evade responsibility for their own actions for so many years.


So, what do you residents, taxpayers and small business owners of Hallandale Beach say about the possibility of having a JLAC "field hearing" in Hallandale Beach in the coming months, so that members of the Committee can come into the belly of the beast and see for themselves how millions of CRA dollars have been squandered for one thing after another over the years with no tangible positive results that HB residents can see or feel or taste.

Come see the longstanding graffiti, still highly-visible in the same places year-after-year on the city's main roads, especially on U.S.-1/Federal Highway, directly in front of and in some places ON the new and old HB City Halls.


I don't know about you, but when I see lots of graffiti, I think "blight."
And when I live in a city that doesn't do anything about it for years...

Self-evident graffiti ignored for years by the powers-that-be at HB City Hall, the Police Dept. and the CRA staff that is supposed to actually help get rid of blight, not just ignore it, as I told then-City manager Mark A. Antonio and the City Commission in 2011 at a City Commission meeting, where I publicly chastised him and the city Commission for ignoring what was right in front of the very building we were all in.
Why did Antonio and Mayor Cooper and the hundreds of HB city employees do nothing about it I asked?

Despite coming into the same building for work every weekday for over ten years, City Manager Antonio said he'd never seen any of legions of graffiti-covered signs that were and are and have been up-and-down U.S.-1/Federal Highway for many years once you head north from the City of Aventura in Miami-Dade County, despite the signs hiding-in-plain-sight right in front of Hallandale Beach City Hall -and Gulfstream Park Race Track & Casino and the Village at Gulfstream Park retail complex directly
across the street- courtesy of, among others, "esc" and "HGS."



July 10, 2013 photos by South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved. Above, directly in front of Hallandale Beach City Hall on U.S.-1/South Federal Highway. Below, directly in front of the main Hallandale Beach Post Office directly south and across the street from HB City Hall. Gulfstream Park Race Track & Casino and the Village at Gulfstream Park retail complex are across the street.   



Yes, a lot of people in town are slowly coming around to the idea that only this sort of shock treatment, a visit, will cure the sick patient that is the HB CRA and the people who run it so badly.

(The longstanding eyesore and firetrap that is the old HB City Hall on West Dixie Highway & S.W. 3rd Street., less than a half-mile from the present City Hall, will get an update with photos soon on the blog, where the city's neglect of what it has been to its residential neighbors across the street has long been one of my pet projects.)

The JLAC can come and hear first-hand from HB residents about how they cringe at hearing the preposterous things said routinely in this city at CRA meetings by the Directors.
Or as was the case on Wednesday night, hearing how things like expending CRA funds for fireworks are really economic measures according to the mayor and city manager, which help people within the CRA.
Hmm-m... despite the fact that fireworks actually take place in an area that is NOT in the CRA -the beach?

That's an odd argument to make, but it's just part-and-parcel of the unreality that exists here.

To those of you who've asked me recently, even before Wednesday night's debacle, I agree with you: "What a friend we have in Jesus." 
Still, I don't want to leave things strictly up to fate or karma, so I'll happily sign your petition for Recall of Comm. Sanders in a heartbeat, just tell me when and where to go, and I'll sign and help you get even more signatures. 
The number of signatures needed to trigger a recall election of Comm. Sanders is actually much lower than you think.



July 10, 2013 photo by South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved. Above, Hallandale Beach City Hall Complex on S. Federal Highway/U.S.-1, as I left Wednesday night's meeting. To remind you again, this is where attention to details and appearances has never been their strong suit in the nine-plus years I've lived here, since returning to South Florida after 15 years in the Washington, D.C. area. Thanks to the city's incompetent, myopic and poorly-managed DPW, the spotlights on the city's monument sign above, at the corner of U.S.-1 & S.E. 5th St., have NOT worked since June of 2012. Which is to say that they have NEVER worked since City Manager Renee C. Miller has been City Manager. But attention to details and appearances really DO matter when you are a government, don't they? The situation with the lights not working on this sign is but the tip of the iceberg. Seeing this sort of thing all over the city, it's hard not to imagine how badly more-complicated things that are hidden away from the public are really botched, isn't it? Exactly.

This was the first news article posted online by the only visible reporter who showed-up, though it's clearly incomplete, as we've come to expect from that newspaper, given how short their editors like pieces to be, shorn of context that explains why things happened the way they did. 
http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/broward/hallandale/fl-cra-hallandale-response-20130710,0,505886.story


Of course, that doesn't prevent their reporters from actually trying to develop independent sources of information and actually going around the city herself to speak with people who know what's going on, instead of only dealing with people at HB City Hall.
But that's NOT what they do at that newspaper.
Not now, not ever, and that's why it's so terribly unsatisfying and frustrating to the people who live here.

They know implicitly that this lack of effort by TV and print reporters and columnists to really dig below the surface, is something that Mayor Cooper counts on and has been extremely appreciative of over the years-reporters who don't independently observe and only report, when they do show-up, on what's visible, only playing the role of court transcribers and re-writer of press releases.

And that's part of why it is that Mayor Cooper's reign of ruin and malicious and willful mischief with the CRA has been allowed to continue for so long, and why people like Alexander Lewy and Anthony A. Sanders can get away with their questionable antics because nobody in the news media is paying attention, lifting a finger and holding them to account.
A bad press corps is a license to steal.
A bad press corps that doesn't even bother to show-up is... our reality in Hallandale Beach

No comments:

Post a Comment

Some older elements and building blocks formerly seen at Hallandale Beach Blog, such as photos, graphics and videos have been moved into cold storage. Visit them again or see what you've missed at: http://hallandale-beach-blog.blogspot.com/
Unless otherwise indicated, all ORIGINAL photos appearing here were taken by myself. 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.

Me in the Summer of 2016

Me in the Summer of 2016
Above, me in June, pre-recent haircut, near acres and acres of orange groves off Scenic U.S. #17 in Frostproof, FL, while visiting hot/humid Central Florida, which I'm convinced is where heat/humidity goes in the Summer to get away from it all... The oppressive heat & humidity there is literally everywhere you go. :-(

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.

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.