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.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

First Day of Hallandale Beach's 2013 Budget Workshop on Monday is royal debacle for HB taxpayers in favor of more accuracy, financial oversight and prudent decision-making. And free speech!; On the plus side, the Hallandale Beach City Commission didn't declare war on Cuba or The Bahamas, so there's that; recycling in Sweden is SO much easier than in Hallandale Beach

Meanwhile, in another place and time, but also of this world and year... For someone like me who's a longtime recycling enthusiast, one of the best things about Sweden in general and Stockholm in particular is the average person's very strong personal commitment to keeping that beautiful city -and its public nature areas- free of trash and debris. You pay a few Kroner more for products packaged in recyclable plastic or aluminum, like maybe 20 cents on a 12-ounce Coca Cola can, at both retail stores and from street vendors in kiosks, but you always get your money back via self-serve machines like the ones pictured above at stores. (I did this myself with some Coke products at the the Hemköp grocery store in the basement of the Åhléns Dept. store at Ringvägen and Götgatan, across the street from the Skanstull T-bana in the southern commercial heart of trendy and fun Södermalm.)
This recycling system has the psychological advantage of creating a real financial incentive in consumers of all political temperaments or persuasions to return items to stores, as well as incentivizing people to pick-up any recyclables they ever see lying on roads or in parks -and get that found money themselves- which is one of the reasons that Stockholm is SO CLEAN! 
They make it as easy as possible to recycle, the polar opposite of the approach in Hallandale Beach, where the city itself puts up real and meaningful obstacles.

First Day of Hallandale Beach's 2013 Budget Workshop on Monday is royal debacle for HB taxpayers in favor of more accuracy, financial oversight and prudent decision-making. And free speech!; On the plus side, the Hallandale Beach City Commission didn't declare war on Cuba or The Bahamas, so there's that; recycling in Sweden is SO much easier than in Hallandale Beach
Only five Hallandale Beach citizens showed-up for the start of the meeting, including me, at 4:15 pm, so we few were significantly outnumbered by city employees by a factor of about 8:1, mostly Dept. heads.
Surprise! The meeting started late...

Hallandale Beach civic activists Csaba Kulin and Maggie Ivanovski each spoke for three minutes at the very beginning of the meeting after, a propos of nothing, Mayor Cooper felt the need to share her opinion on the George Zimmerman trial.

The mayor's comments were as predictable as they were completely unnecessary and inappropriate, and yet another reminder of the large obstacles this city faces in ever becoming a normal city instead of merely her personal plaything.

Csaba and Maggie's spot-on comments came before any Dept. or subject budget presentation and concerned a.) the Parks Bond issue & cost overruns at B.F. James Park, and b.) the number of new city employees that have  been hired since City Manager Renee Miller was hired as HB's City Manager over a year ago, having pledged to at least some of us in the community of her best efforts to instill some real oversight on city activities and keep costs under control.

Not that either thing she promised me last summer is readily-apparent to even the most casual of observers, since I still see the same bad things routinely taking place in the same bad way
in the same exact places and circumstances.
I'll be doing a video on that soon that I think will give you a sense of how true this is.

After the two of them were finished, when it would have been perfectly appropriate and sensible to make a motion to allow the public to speak after each Dept.'s presentation of what their request is and why, since as the mayor is so fond of saying over the years about city Workshop meetings, which this was in part, they "have flexibility," no HB commissioner had the good sense to do so, least of all, the mayor.

For all his faults, to give him his due on this, even former City Manager Mike Good allowed citizens to ask questions after Dept. budget presentations when he and Mayor Cooper were running things up in the infamous and cramped Room 257 at HB City Hall.

I know because I was one of the handful of persons who regularly took advantage of the opportunity to remind him, the Commission and the staff about their previous promises to the public that had gone unfulfilled and in many cases, never even attempted, or if they had, as was the case with the city's recycling program after they bought tens of thousands of bins, done
haphazardly, unprofessionally or in a general half-assed fashion.

The city's ass-backwards recycling program and approach remains a very frustrating and disheartening mess in my opinion, given the resources they have now but don't properly utilize, to say nothing of their lack of effort to be intelligent about capturing more by using known consumer behavior in this small city.

Those budget meetings were one of the rare times in the year in this city when you got a chance to really hold Dept. heads to the fire and make them responsible or publicly acknowledge problems that they consciously ignored the rest of the year, which would now get a full airing.
Well, at least as much of an airing as you can have when City Manger Good and Mayor Cooper each had a microphone in a small room when you are about ten feet away, at most.

So, whatever good points you or I or anyone else had regarding the budget particulars were left unsaid Monday afternoon and night because Mayor Cooper refused to  allow any members of the public to speak once City Manager Miller ran  thru the agenda for the next three days and her 'laundry list of priorities, which really should've been a list of the Commission's priorities,
of course, but I digress.

Which is why a motion should have been made, so Cooper would've been forced to public defend her position that no taxpayers of this city should be able to talk about the budget after they hear the financial "facts." 

No, she doesn't want to hear from you until September when it's too late, because then it's a done deal.
The 2013 HB Budget train will have already left the station with her as conductor, and she will tell you if you ask that "you should've spoken up earlier" when you had the chance.
But, of course, you really didn't have that chance to make constructive suggestions and informed criticisms, did you?

But here's the thing: Not showing up at the meetings , though, only encourages Mayor Cooper, so it's important that you try to attend on Tuesday or Wednesday after 4 p.m., and see whether the tables are finally turned, since they'll be going on for hours.

If you think you as a Hallandale Beach taxpayer, resident or small business owner ought to be able to ask informed questions after hearing the Dept.'s presentations, instead of commenting without knowing all the facts, why don't you call the HB City Commission and tell them you want the budget process to be one where there's genuine community input, not lip service, and you want them to pass a motion making that a reality on Tuesday and Wednesday?

You can reach the Commissioners at these phone numbers:
Michele Lazarow   (954) 457-1320
Bill Julian   (954) 457-1317
Anthony A. Sanders   (954) 457-1319
Alexander Lewy   (954) 457-1315

It's your money after all, not theirs.

And don't forget to bring your cameras with you!

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