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, Sweden, the U.S. & South Florida. 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 South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved.

Monday, July 8, 2013

So guess who fell off the truth-telling bandwagon and got back to his familiar logrolling ways in the Miami Herald? Yes, Maurice Ferre of the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority; FL state Rep. Jeanette Nuñez is 100% correct -the MDX is overstepping its boundaries. Facts show they are arrogant and territorial as hell, and it's clear they want to expand their fiefdom!


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So guess who fell off the truth-telling bandwagon and got back to his familiar logrolling ways in the Miami Herald? Yes, Maurice Ferre of the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority; FL state Rep. Jeanette Nuñez is 100% correct -the MDX is overstepping its boundaries. Facts show they are arrogant and territorial as hell, and it's clear they want to expand their fiefdom!
My comments are after the spin.

Miami Herald
Letter to the Editor
MDX is doing its job
July 7, 2013

Re state Rep. Jeanette Nuñez’s June 30 letter, MDX is overstepping its boundaries:

The Miami-Dade Expressway Authority (MDX) was created by the Florida Legislature and the Miami-Dade County Commission in 1994 as an agency of the state. Seven of MDX’s board of 13 members are appointed by county commissioners and six by the governor. 

On March 19 and June 18, 2013, MDX held public hearings on the rate issue for State Road 836. The MDX Board voted 7-5 in favor of the 70-cent option over the one for 60 cents. This new rate starts the summer of 2014. 

The toll policy and new toll rate were studied, discussed, debated and publicly aired for several years. We are no more a monopoly than the Florida Department of Transportation or Florida’s Turnpike. MDX staff and I, as chair, visited every county commissioner and as many city mayors as would see us to review plans. We were before several editorial boards, on radio and TV talk shows. The Miami Herald covered the toll issues amply and fairly. 

In the six advertised public meetings, two webinars and two public hearings, there was minimal participation. In the last public hearing MDX received the objection and concerns of seven legislators and five mayors preferring 60 cents rather than the 70-cent toll rate per mainline gantry. 

In the same Miami Herald edition, there were other articles on government expenditures for Jackson Health System’s $830 million “wish list” and the county water and sewer department’s pipe plan. Florida’s Turnpike implemented a $12 million-a-year toll hike recently. 

Freedom is not free, and progress has a cost. Americans, and Miamians, well understand that our infrastructure needs drastic repairs. As painful as toll increases are, doing less than our best would be more painful to travelers. 

MDX gets no money from Washington, Tallahassee or Miami-Dade County. If any of these governments wants to help MDX financially, we would gladly review our decisions. 

For seven years Congress has failed to adequately fund the U.S. transportation needs. Bridges are failing everywhere, even, unfortunately, our own Bear Cut Bridge in Key Biscayne. Many local cities, like the growing Doral, are concerned that traffic pains will slow growth and affect quality of life. 

Good public policy requires difficult decisions for all of us. MDX is not overreaching. MDX is doing its job. 

Maurice Ferre, chair, MDX, Miami


A few weeks ago Ferre seemed to be trying to play the all-too-rare voice of reason in Miami-Dade County by opposing fare hikes of this stealthy body most people in M-D not only DON'T understand, but instinctively hate -for good reason.

Unfortunately for both residents and common sense, that was all a mirage, since he's now back to playing the role of sycophant to the hilt that's been his designated role since he's fallen to the outer fringes of relevant politics and public policy.

It's really great that the Herald's feeble-minded Editorial Board is so bereft of any common sense that despite this being known as one of THE most apathetic and least civic-minded regions in the entire country, they run this piece without any mention whatsoever that Ferre is the former mayor of Miami -and wannabe mayor of M-D County- so that all the legions of 
know-it-alls from Aventura to Florida City who moved down here since Hurricane Andrew hit, and as we know, think they know everything -many of them, Jets fans, of course- can have some useful context to better understand a pol calling for more money for his latest crew of insiders.

Naturally, to make the whole log-rolling effort complete, Ferre compliments the Herald.
How did I know THAT was coming?
Experience!


The original Letter to the Editor that Ferre's spin exercise was trying to undo was this bit of spot-on truth-telling:


Miami Herald
Letter to the Editor
MDX is overstepping its boundaries
June 29, 2013

Miami-Dade County commissioners created the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority (MDX) in 1994 to ease traffic congestion and establish local control of toll revenues. Two years later MDX took over the five busiest roadways in the county — the Airport, Dolphin, Don Shula, Gratigny and Snapper Creek expressways. While its foundation and the original intentions of MDX were necessary at the time, in recent months, MDX has overstepped its boundaries and taken advantage of its de facto monopoly over Miami-Dade’s major roadways. 

MDX originally approved a fixed toll rate of 70 cents for the Dolphin Expressway in March, and after a 60-cent alternative was introduced, it called for a public hearing where community members and elected officials could voice their opinions on the matter. On June 19, voice them they did. 

In fact, I and several colleagues from the Miami-Dade legislative delegation attended and condemned the toll increase at an MDX board meeting. We asked the board to pass the less costly alternative, a 60-cent toll per gantry. Nonetheless, the motion for the lower toll failed on a 7-5 vote, even in the face of widespread public opposition. 

Therefore, the MDX board went about its business — not the people’s business — and passed the resolution increasing tolls to 70 cents per mainline gantry and 30 cents per ramp gantry. Before this change, the roundtrip tolls from my district in southwest Miami to downtown were $2.50. If the new tolls are implemented, the cost would rise to $4.20. Commuters who use the expressway will see an increase in what they spend on tolls when the new charges begin next summer. 

MDX has vastly overreached its boundaries as a quasi-governmental body and I hope to remedy the situation for my constituents legislatively before the charges come into effect in June 2014. To borrow the term coined by Roll Back Tolls, MDX is practicing “tollation” — tolling without representation. 

Even though MDX is a state-sanctioned agency, there are systemic inadequacies within its structure. I’m worried that MDX is not held properly accountable for its decisions because there are no elected officials sitting on the board and it has not prudently explored other options to finance future projects. I’m also worried about MDX’s apparent monopoly over tolls in Miami-Dade County and its inability to engage in active listening with the public. 

This decision to raise tolls portrays MDX as having little concern for the economic well-being of the resident, and I will remain adamant in supporting my constituency on this controversial issue. 

Jeanette Nuñez, state representative, Miami

-----
As always, you can read much more analysis on other problems associated with the arrogant folks at MDX at Transit Miami, where they've been hip to what MDX has been doing for as long as I've been -expanding their fiefdom.
http://www.transitmiami.com/

Transit Miami @transitmiami https://twitter.com/transitmiami
"Transit Miami is an online web journal dedicated to advancing smart growth oriented land use policies, and mutlimodal transportation in South Florida."

Jeanette Nuñez's profile on the Florida legislature's website:
http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Representatives/details.aspx?MemberId=4524

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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'dALREADY 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, theCity 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 forYEARS 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.
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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/

New this year: you!

New this year: you!
Close-up photo of the cute head-turning window display at the Apotek Hjärtat -Sweden's largest independent pharmacy chain- located at Ringvägen 113, near the Skanstull T-bana in Södermalm, Stockholm. Sign reads, "Årets nyhet: du! Ett helt nytt och obrukat år är här. Just nu känns det lite lättare att välja om, förändra vanor och bryta gamla mönster. Vi hjälper gärna till. Du vill, du kan, du törs!' (New this year: you! A brand new and unused year is here. Right now it feels a little easier to choose, change habits and break old patterns. We're happy to help. You want to, you can, you dare!) Sounds like good advice that I ought to be following, too! January 12, 2013 photo by South Beach Hoosier.© 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved

Paradise Lost? South Florida

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

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.

Palm tree, Stars & Stripes

Palm tree, Stars & Stripes
Palm tree obstructing the sun at Hallandale Beach City Hall, May 28, 2012 photo by South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved

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 28-year NCAA title drought!

Let's end the 28-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

ABBA

ABBA
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!

Congratulations Sweden - 200 years of peace! Solveig Rundquist (@RundquistS)

#Södermalm

Hej #STHLM, jag saknar dig, hejdå. So wish I was there RIGHT NOW!

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

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!

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.

Ringvägen, Stockholm, Sweden

Ringvägen, Stockholm, Sweden
Poster display on Ringvägen, Stockholm, Sweden. January 2013 photo by South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved. 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.