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.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Head's up, South Florida journalists: It's NOW safe -for a week- for you to come to Hallandale Beach and examine the endemic corruption & incompetency that you wouldn't do before -and have I and my friends got plenty of specific suggestions! You see, Mayor Joy Cooper is going to be away in Saudi Arabia and so HB residents can breathe for a change

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
This blog post was originally an email that went out late Thursday afternoon to many interested parties throughout Hallandale Beach, Hollywood and points beyond, like Tallahassee, as well as the usual number of bloggers, reporters, and all the ships at sea. 

"I wonder if she will start a war?" is surely what many Hallandale Beach residents must've thought upon first hearing that HB Mayor Joy Cooper is going to Saudi Arabia for a few days -at someone else's expense thank goodness, not part of her $20K a year travel and conference fund paid for by taxpayers like you and me.

Does she and the other commissioners get to keep anything from that fund that she doesn't spend?
Some of us have been wondering about that for a while now, asking questions, but not always getting consistent answers. Surprise!

Now you may be saying that I'm exaggerating because Saudi Arabia is considered an ally, per se, not a country that we're at diplomatic cross-purposes with, so how could Joy Cooper start a war, or, short of that, a "diplomatic row."
To which I would simple ask, have you never met Joy Cooper?
Have you never seen how she treats people, esp. people she is supposed to serve?
If you have, you understand exactly what I'm talking about.

It may seem weird to her initially to be somewhere where nobody cares who she is or that her husband is a millionaire or that she can force public funds to be given to a faux newspaper that allows her to write a column full of propaganda that bears little semblance to reality, on top of what the "paper" already does reflexively to censor events around here and make sure there is never any criticism of her in its pages.

Above, the perpetually-ridiculed and taxpayer-financed faux newspaper, South Florida Sun-Times, with one of the most egregious and laughable front pages of the past few years -and that's saying something! From my July 25, 2012 blog post title, When Hallandale Beach Mayor Joy Cooper says "setting the record straight" in her "column" at the taxpayer-financed faux newspaper, grab your wallet or purse, and be prepared to endure self-serving, nonsensical rationalizations that fail both the logic and reality test; August 30, 2010 photo by South Beach Hoosier. (c) 2012 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved; http://hallandalebeachblog.blogspot.com/2012/07/when-hallandale-beach-mayor-joy-cooper_25.html

For her to be somewhere where she can't prevent members of the public from speaking simply because they disagree with her, and she can't allow that.
Oh, wait, nobody here cares either.

Personally, I wish someone from the Saudi Royal family would simply buy Gulfstream Park and the Village at Gulfstream Park and start firing people left-and-right and bring in some truly competent and creative management so that this valuable property in our city can FINALLY be free to be properly run and offer consumers what they want.
AND finally resolve the many, many longstanding maintenance problems, NOT kick them further down the road as has been the case for so many years with so many faceless people in charge who refused to engage the community.

If you didn't know, it, consider this.
They have NOT even been competent enough to figure out a way to fly an American flag on their flagpole off U.S.-1 without it quickly becoming tattered.
Free consult -get a flag that does NOT touch nearby objects that tear the flag! End of problem

Flag hasn't flown there since about mid-February; I've got the photos to show it, and yet if they can't handle small items like that, well, you can only imagine what they do with larger problems.

Oh, that's right. 
We don't have to imagine how they mishandle big things.
They ignore them and when it becomes public, they call Mayor Cooper to handle things without telling anyone else on the elected City Commission about it, and then they walk across the street and say they don't want to pay legitimate fines and promise to do better despite their track record of not keeping their word.

So to the news media I would ask that you please don't indulge our autocratic, thin-skinned and egotistical mayor and mention this story on the air or in-print.
That's what she wants -only positive spin.
That's why this press release was even created, since who else would even know that she wasn't around but for a handful of people?

In any case, her immediate neighbors must be very happy for this unexpected holiday, free of her usual melodrama and fireworks for a few days and able to not feel under-the-gun walking around with her up in the guard tower

A few hours later...
But even as I was writing the words above, elsewhere in Broward County, the Sun-Sentinel's 
Hollywood and Hallandale Beach beat reporter, Susannah Bryan, so oblivious to so many issues and concerns of local residents that ought to be getting reported upon but which  AREN'T, even while she chases her tail, once again, has largely regurgitated a press release, and in this case, it's about the same subject as my post:

It might interest you to know that today was the second day in a row that I needed to take Bryan to task in a group email about her very curious choices and ways of reporting.
You'll see that public criticism here quite soon, since it touches on an issue that the South Florida news media has completely refrained from reporting upon in large part because of their reluctance to cross a certain union and its always-talkative leader.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Dobens, Peter 
Date: Thu, Dec 5, 2013 at 1:09 PM
Subject: Mayor Cooper joins US Mayors on Economic Mission to Saudi Arabia
To: "Dobens, Peter" 

Mayor Joy Cooper Joins
U.S. Mayors on Mission
To Saudi Arabia
Seven Mayors Invited on Economic Tour  
For immediate release                                                                              Contact: Peter F. Dobens, public relations
DATE: Thursday, December 5, 2013                                                              954-457-1493, or pdobens@cohb.org
HALLANDALE BEACH – Hallandale Beach Mayor Joy Cooper is one of seven U.S. Mayors participating in a week-long economic and cultural mission to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.  The mayors will be in Saudi Arabia from Friday, Dec. 6, through Friday, Dec. 13. The trip is at the invitation and expense of the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia
“It’s going to be an intense trip about economic and cultural issues. It will give us a chance to promote economic and business partnerships,” said Mayor Cooper. Several members of the Saudi Royal Family own racehorses that have run at Gulfstream Park in past years, and this is an opportunity to highlight other economic opportunities in the City. “I have already spoken with Gulfstream Park about the trip.”
Environmental issues, women’s rights, human rights and transportation issues are among the other issues on the meeting-intensive agenda, Mayor Cooper said. “Everything is on the table.” she said.
The mayors look forward to learning about the world’s largest desalination plant, exchanging ideas about shared local challenges, promoting investment between Saudi Arabia and U.S. cities, and gaining a better understanding of the policies and culture of a leading Middle Eastern nation.
The Conference of Mayors has assisted in organizing this mission at the request of the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington, D.C., which selected the participating mayors, listed below:
Mayor Joy Cooper, Hallandale Beach
Mayor William Bell, Birmingham, AL
Mayor Lori Moseley, Miramar
Mayor Beth Van Duyne, Irving, TX
Mayor Setti Warren, Newton, MA
Mayor Brian Bennett, Rochester Hills, MI
Mayor Shane Bemis, Gresham, OR

Press inquiries should be directed to Mr. Nail A. Al-Jubeir, Director of Information and Congressional Affairs Office, Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia, Washington, D.C., at (202) 337-4134 or naa@saudiembassy.net.

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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'd ALREADY 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, the City 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 for YEARS 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.
Unless otherwise indicated, all ORIGINAL photos appearing here were taken by myself. © 2014 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved. 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.
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


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)


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.