"The turnout was very passionate on both sides," Hernandez said after the meeting. "The parents from the school seem to have had a plan, and that was to hijack the town hall meeting in order to bring their point across, discarding the many concerns from the district's neighborhoods."
-Hollywood City Commissioner Pete Hernandez, Miami Herald, April 1, 2013Most of you readers coming to the blog today would probably guess that given all the previous fireworks involved, as well as the particular narrative and physical circumstances involved with this school controversy in Hollywood, literally, right across the street from Hollywood City Hall, to say nothing of the many and impassioned fact-filled blog posts I've had here about him and his Hebrew Charter School empire, it'd really be quite a feat of gall for Peter Deutsch & Co. to try to play the Jewish card again at this late date, when some of the leading opponents of the expansion of this charter school at this site are Jewish themselves, including my friend, longtime Broward civic and education activist Charlotte Greenbarg of Hollywood, the president of the Hollywood Council of Civic Associations.
(Once-upon-a-time, Charlotte and her family lived in North Miami Beach, just like your faithful blogger when he was a kid in the 1970's.)
But to think such a thing only means that you haven't been following Deutsch as closely as you needed to, and for that, I largely blame the local Miami and Fort Lauderdale newspapers and TV stations for failing to do their jobs fully, since whatever else he is, Peter Deutsch is consistent about always trying to play the angles, no matter how distasteful it may appear to outsiders, in order to gain an advantage.
Given that fact, at tonight's 6 p.m. meeting, you mustn't discount either Deutsch's ability or willingness to play dirty or do whatever it takes to get what HE wants, which is implicitly what he told outraged residents of Hallandale Beach to their face a few years ago -when he tried to shoe-horn a high-school into a single-family Northeast HB residential neighborhood- and told them that -to repeat myself from many previous posts in this space- it didn't matter what they or their neighborhood thought or wanted, or even what HB's elected officials thought or wanted, he'd get what he wanted.
That's who he is.
The fact that the South Florida news media clearly shied-away from showing the full extent of that unattractive side of his personality and tactics, plus, never showed video examples of the sheer arrogance and galling sense of entitlement of many of the Ben Gamla parents at the required public meetings when they had their chance to speak, only confirmed many things that people I know and respect have long thought about the majority of Miami's news media.
Simply put, many of them, but not all, are afraid of genuinely rocking-the-boat and holding people with power or influence to account publicly, whether that's a former South Florida congressman or 'concerned' drive-by parents, who live far away, who think nothing of bad-mouthing and trashing an entire neighborhood or city simply because the people actually living there DON'T want to play the role of dupes in an encore performance of what has already happened repeatedly at other Academica charter schools, as I've previously noted.
Like in my August 27th post:
As Wednesday night's Town Hall meeting at Hollywood City Hall re Ben Gamla Hebrew Charter School looms, more and more people are raising and asking tough-but-reasonable questions about the use of Broward taxpayer money for more of Peter Deutsch's Ben Gamla Hebrew Charter Schools. Some even dare to wonder how high those management fees Deutsch and his business partners pay to Academica really are, and whether taxpayers will find outhttp://hallandalebeachblog.blogspot.com/2013/08/as-wednesday-nights-town-hall-meeting.html
* Reminder as you read the following: The Doral Academy network is one of four large South Florida charter-school chains run by Academica, the state’s largest charter school operator. These four school networks -the Doral, Mater, Somerset and Pinecrest academies are owned by nonprofit companies that are managed by Academica, a for-profit company based in South Miami, which is the state’s largest charter school management company and led by Fernando Zulueta.
Press Release from City of Hollywood last week read as follows:
The Department of Planning and Development Services is hosting two separate community meetings on current development proposals. The first meeting is on the proposed Sheridan Station Development. The second meeting is on the proposed Doral Ben Gamla Preparatory Academy.
The community meeting for the Sheridan Station Development will be held on Thursday, September 26 at 6:00 p.m. in the City Commission Chambers, Room 219, Hollywood City Hall, 2600 Hollywood Boulevard. This meeting will provide City staff with public input as the project begins the Development Review Process which includes public hearings. This is not a meeting where any decisions will be made. It will be an opportunity for the the public to get an update on the status of the project slated for the area just east of I-95 between Sheridan Street and Taft Street. Some of the topics will include: proposed changes to the project, update on number of units and amount of commercial space, update on the Florida Department of Transportation's role in the project and the status of off-site/on-site improvements.
The Community Meeting for the Doral-Ben Gamla Preparatory Academy will be held on Thursday, October 3 at 6:00 p.m in the City Commission Chambers, Room 219, Hollywood City Hall, 2600 Hollywood Boulevard. This meeting will allow the public to find out more about the proposed expansion of the charter school, ask questions about the development proposal and provide feedback that will be considered as the project moves through the development review process. This is not a meeting where any decisions will be made. The proposed location for the school is 2636, 2648 and 2650 Van Buren Street, near the charter school's current campus.
Both of these meetings are open to the public and interested residents are encouraged to attend. For questions about either project, please contact the Department of Planning and Development Services at 954.921.3471.-----
In Hollywood, fight over charter high school gets noisy
By Carli Teproff, cteproff@MiamiHerald.com
October 1, 2013
Every morning when school is in session, traffic along Hollywood Boulevard and the surrounding streets slows to a crawl as parents drop their children at the Ben Gamla Charter School, which houses kindergarteners through eighth-graders.
Nearby homeowners say the traffic is unbearable. And it's going to get a whole lot worse, they insist, if a proposal to build a high school across the street serving 1,050 students is approved by the city and the school board.Read the rest of the article at:
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Passionate response to plans - Community meeting on Ben Gamla school expansion planned for Thursday
By Sara Shell, Staff Writer
September 29, 2013
When Hollywood City Commissioner Peter Hernandez took office, he promised constituents he'd have regular town hall meetings to discuss the happenings and get feedback from District 2.
There was no shortage of feedback during his second town hall meeting of the year, focusing on the proposed expansion of the Ben Gamla charter school. More than 300 residents showed up, creating an overflow crowd at City Hall, and another community meeting on the subject is planned for Thursday.Read the rest of the article at:
NBC6 video: Church-State Separation Issue at Hollywood's Ben Gamla Charter School Revived After Comments by Founder Former congressman Peter Deutsch was quoted as saying the school, which teaches Hebrew language and culture, builds Jewish identity among its students
By Ari Odzer, Tuesday, Sep 17, 2013, Updated 2:01 AM EDT
‘Concern’ about Ben Gamla curriculum sparks inquiry by Broward Schools http://t.co/bSsEAhv0mz
— Broward Bulldog (@BrowardBulldog) September 4, 2013
#JewishTimes #PeterDeutsch Florida school board reviewing Ben Gamla schools http://t.co/lAMhRtUSlw
— Israel News (@IsraelNewsNow) August 27, 2013
This includes the reader comments at the Miami Herald website
Can a school with a religious orientation be public. #bengamla controversy grows. @MiamiHerald http://t.co/wd9zUos48g
— rickhirsch (@rickhirsch) August 23, 2013
Fresh questions about use of public money for Deutsch’s Ben Gamla charter schools http://t.co/bxDXGMZEz3
— Broward Bulldog (@BrowardBulldog) August 21, 2013
Hollywood neighbors oppose ex-U.S. Rep. Deutsch’s plan for another Ben Gamla school http://t.co/jdtVl3UXWx
— Broward Bulldog (@BrowardBulldog) August 12, 2013
Jewish public schools? Hebrew charter franchises offer radically different models
By Uriel Heilman
July 1, 2013 2:36 p.m.
A Charter Network’s Emerging Imprint http://t.co/aC9BvxVR #hebrewcharter #bengamla
— Julie Wiener (@Julie_Wiener) March 28, 2012
Hebrew Charter School As Growth Industry http://t.co/krOyEcZR #bengamla #jewished #hebrew_charter
— Julie Wiener (@Julie_Wiener) March 21, 2012