Welcome to the Hallandale Beach CRA! The familiar, graffiti-filled view greeting visitors looking south on U.S.-1/Federal Highway near the very dumpy-looking eastern entrance to the Mardi Gras Casino and Dog Track -the former Hollywood Dog Track- just two blocks south of the Hollywood cityline on Pembroke Road. Sure, why care about how shabby things have looked for years on one of the three main roads in the city when the CRA Board isn't going to spend any CRA funds there, but only in NW Hallandale Beach -where 13% of the city lives- despite the fact that the CRA also includes residents in NE, SE and SW, covering a majority of the city, including the area where HB City Hall is located. Yes, that's how the CRA here rolls. October 2, 2013 photo by South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved.
Chaz Stevens' latest blog post is a reality gut-check for the State of Florida re their lax enforcement of rules and laws re municipal CRAs, including where he lives in the Grand Duchy of Deerfield Beach, where bureaucratic self-enrichment is a tradition, not a rumor.
And in Hallandale Beach, where pointed criticism of spending tens of millions of CRA dollars with little to show for it years later is something that City Hall and the mayor who's been in charge just shrugs off, the reality that they'll waste millions more just to score and secure political points IS staring everyone in the face.
But who's doing anything about it?
On Sunday Chaz painted just the latest portrait he's done over the years of Broward County CRAs in action, in this case, from his vantage point on the far north side of the county, thus proving that the City of Hallandale Beach CRA in southern Broward, under duplicitous Mayor Joy Cooper, doesn't have the market to itself on dubious nonprofit logrolling, crony capitalism and bureaucratic self-enrichment.
(Though to be sure, Cooper's fervent efforts and those of her Rubber Stamp Crew to funnel what could be millions of scarce CRA dollars onto small parcels of land located on a one-way street that DOESN'T generate much traffic -and that her own neighbors would NEVER visit no matter what is actually built there- instead of being smart and faithful to the law's original intent and actually spending those funds in a way that'd actually eliminate blight, and bring new jobs to the CRA at prime spots on main streets with lots of traffic like U.S.-1 and Hallandale Beach Blvd., does bear much more public scrutiny from the local citizenry and press corps than it's gotten up to this point, requiring as it does some actual legwork and showing-up once in a while.)
And, of course, as we learn everyday, it's not just in Broward that CRAs and the elected officials who run them are ignoring the spirit and letter of the law of the original CRA enabling legislation in Tallahassee intended to eliminate blight, because there's everything -and then some- that's been going on for years in New Smyrna Beach, too, which we last chronicled here on May 1st:
Local FL news coverage that is making a positive difference: In another FL city beset with egregious examples of CRA ethical shenanigans and rampant crony capitalism, Volusia County publisher Henry Frederick takes his responsibility to the community seriously, and asks hard questions about public ethics, government accountability and journalistic credibility. His fact-based straightforward questions are blunt when necessary: Is the Daytona Beach News-Journal protecting New Smyrna Beach Mayor Adam Barringer? And if so, why?; @NSBNEWSnet
So, with all that as helpful predicate and palate cleanser for our main course, here's Chaz's piece from Sunday, complete with a great photo of the scene-of-the-crime:
The $3.4M ECC building is leased 10 years for $1.00. http://t.co/8Gn5ZnBH69
— Chaz Stevens (@TweetsByMAOS) October 6, 2013
They won't until someone or something stops THEM.
Anyone in the future writing the history of the endemic anti-taxpayer sentiment and municipal public corruption in South Florida of the past 30 years will have more than enough material to choose from and will necessarily have to have several chapters on an era where cities and CRAs acted like they were a combination of robber barons, 1920's Florida land speculators and Robert Moses.
And yes, you're right, again, that sort of mentality sounds more than a little bit like exactly what has been going on for many, many years in Hallandale Beach.