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.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New year offers hope for Hallandale Beach's long-suffering citizens to end their city's long-standing reputation as a South Florida laughingstock & punchline: the home of so much long-standing incompetency, secretiveness, red tape and anti-taxpayer attitudes at City Hall under Mayor Joy Cooper. Recent moves by HB commissioners to pocket unused travel funds is perfect example of what needs to be held up to critical public scrutiny; re My 2014 endorsements for candidates to sweep out the mediocrity that infests City Hall, and increase public accountability, oversight and expectations of city employees

New year offers hope for Hallandale Beach's long-suffering citizens to end their city's long-standing reputation as a South Florida laughingstock & punchline: the home of so much long-standing incompetency, secretiveness, red tape and anti-taxpayer attitudes at City Hall under Mayor Joy Cooper. Recent moves by HB commissioners to pocket unused travel funds is perfect example of what needs to be held up to critical public scrutiny; re My 2014 endorsements for candidates to sweep out the mediocrity that infests City Hall, and increase public accountability, oversight and expectations of city employees
A recent Bill Gjebre article in the Broward Bulldog on the sad and pathetic state of public policy/legislating in the ocean-side city I live in here in Broward County struck me as the perfect point of departure for my first blog post of the year, since it so perfectly encapsulates so much of what is presently (and has been) wrong with the current five-member Hallandale Beach City Commission and the ingrained culture of self-dealing and crony capitalism that permeates HB City Hall.

So much incompetency and anti-taxpayer attitude that it actually repulses a majority of its own citizens with something to contribute and causes many who lack staying power to NOT get involved at all in the first place. Which explains why year-after-year, there are always large number of vacancies on the city's various advisory boards that never get filled.

And when a citizen's advisory  group is actually doing something helpful and invaluable, like the CRA Advisory Board, HB Comm. Alexander Lewy, Comm. Anthony A. Sanders and Mayor Joy Cooper strip it of some of its most intrepid and valuable voices -in rather transparent fashion- because those voices are asking hard questions about what has been going on for so many years at the direction of and approval of the the City Commission/CRA Board and City Manager's office, with little to no genuine oversight or accountability as the Broward IG's final report on the city explained in great detail.

Why invest the time and energy when you know that the City Commission and City Manager's office don't really care what your group thinks and will just ignore, rewrite or bury what you have to say and what your group has uncovered?
That, of course, only encourages the very forces that already control this city that are loyal to Mayor Joy Cooper and keep it a laughingstock and punch line for South Florida's news media. That is, to the extent the latter pay attention at all, which is rarely and always with a desire to NOT really delve into what -or rather WHO- is at the nexus of almost all of the city's longstanding problems -the ego and ambitions and failed policies of one woman: Mayor Joy Cooper.

I think if you've read this blog for any amount of time, you can immediately see what this article really paints a picture of -an ugly portrait of a poorly-managed city that is led by people who are not qualified to lead.

Broward Bulldog
Hallandale commissioners approve taking from the city, giving to themselves
DECEMBER 30, 2013 AT 5:51 AM
By William Gjebre, BrowardBulldog.org 

Miami Herald's version of Thursday's Broward Bulldog article that ran on Tuesday morning, includes some honest reader comments..
and the URL for that Tweet:
I strongly urge those of you with a Twitter account to Retweet it just like every HB item you find there.

As most of you know, personally, on this subject, I favored an approach where the elected HB City Commission voted publicly for a reasonable salary increase, and it either passed or didn't, so that the money trail was clear and unambiguous.
But in any case, I did NOT want to see ANY taxpayer dollars allocated towards a travel allowance being given to the commissioners as a parting gift.

Frankly, I'm completely dumbfounded that Bill Gjebre did not ask the most obvious question: Why, after all these years in office, over ten years, is Mayor Joy Cooper perpetually unable or unwilling to make hard choices when it comes to where she goes on the public dime and actually live within the generous limit?
Why is she even given one cent more? What's the justification? 

The reason she does that is that she knows the same thing we do -that there are 
NOT even three people with integrity on the current city commission to speak on behalf of the public at large. 
Their collective weakness empowers her to grab for more than she should have, more than is reasonable, just like all bullies do.

We know from practical experience that part of this equation is the that to  degree that is never written about or discussed publicly by the media, Mayor Cooper uses these quasi-govt. functions to further her own personal and political agenda. And not just a little, but a lot more than the majority of the people at these events.

After all, it's where she gets to shoot the breeze with her govt. cousins, corporate cronies and lobbyist pals who don't live here, and yet who keep telling her what a great job she's doing.

Like the folks at American Traffic Solutions (ATS), the red-light camera company from Arizona that rewarded her so generously at campaign time last year. And right before last year's election, what did she write about in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel when they foolishly asked her to write a Guest Op-Ed about the subject?
To the surprise of nobody, she wrote -somebody wrote!- something that sounded suspiciously like it could've come straight from the ATS PR Dept.

And just as I wrote at the time on this blog, the Sun-Sentinel exacerbated the situation by 
NEVER disclosing anything about Mayor Cooper's relationship with the company, or, their own chummy relationship with the various FL politicians involved with the politician-led Leagues: Cities, Mayors, Counties.
How much do they give them anyway? Or the Broward League of Cities?

Good question, how come nobody in South Florida's large press corps ever thinks to ask and investigate? Nobody ever puts a microphone directly in that group's leaders' faces and ask them why they are so afraid of disclosing that information to the very people who make their little club possible, taxpayers.
And what about those large legal bills/lobbying subsidized by citizens all over the county that includes payments to people who seem to have a wheelbarrow full of conflicts. Especially with Broward taxpayers, who are tired of being fleeced.

Where IS the list of how much in taxpayer money each Broward city gives the  Broward League of Cities, one of the least-transparent non-profit groups in the whole county, as I've mentioned previously with respect to their website?

Tell me, when Mayor Cooper was head pooh bah of the FL League of Mayors, consistently adopting and recommending anti-taxpayer moves in Tallahassee, and the other members of that group bemoaned their money woes in their cities, what do you think she told them?
Do you think she said what a great job ATS was doing of giving HB City Hall lots of loot and could do the same for them?
I do.

Who was she representing at those meetings, the people of HB?
No, herself.
One hand helps the other, especially at election time.

You doubt me, look at how they react when their ATM might be removed...

WTSP-TV, Tampa
Florida red light cameras would be strangled if new House bill passes 
6:55 AM, Dec 28, 2013
By Noah Pransky
Florida's League of Cities has come out strongly against RLC reforms and repeals.
http://www.wtsp.com/news/local/article/350392/8/Florida-House-going-after-red-light-camera-reforms

Speaking of no, who at HB City Hall is prepared to actually tell her no?
It's embarrassing that such a small city allows a thin-skinned bully of so little actual accomplishment and distinction to walk all over it time and again.

You might recall that a few years ago the ENTIRE five-member HB City Commission went to the FL League of Cities annual blowout in  Orlando -everyone!- even while much-larger Hollywood sent one person.
Correct, and among them that year that the same woman who refused to do her job, then-Comm. Dotty Ross, who refused to leave her office on the 2nd floor of City Hall so she wouldn't have to vote on whether or not to fire then-City Manager Mike Good

Not surprisingly, then-Vice Mayor Bill Julian didn't have the common sense to direct the then-City Attorney David Jove go up there and tell Ross that she was breaking the law and had to come down or live with the resultant legal consequences.
Ross's absence prevented a legal quorum from being present, even though as I 
documented at the time, she was not only there at City Hall, so was her carwhich didn't drive itself to HB City Hall.

Her failure to appear and vote unless there was a conflict of interest was a direct violation of state law and her oath of office, but what happened to Ross?
Nothing. Broward SAO Mike Satz and Co. being their usual underwhelming selves.

As the news year dawns, just a reminder of a few things: 

a.) In the new year, I won't be voting or endorsing anyone running for HB City Commission who is unwilling to consistently show integrity, backbone and forthrightness, especially on important financial and public policy matters. 
I will only support and endorse someone who articulates a consistent reformist point of view that champions citizen/taxpayer/small business rights, and makes clear that they are in favor of MORE public accountability, oversight and transparency at HB City Hall -and actual, 
tangible performance of its employees, not the current unacceptable situation of anything goes.

Why does this matter?
Because Bill Julian said in 2012 that he'd learned from his (many, many) mistakes and would act and vote differently on the dais if given a second chance.after being kicked-out in 2010 and coming in third in a three-way race..
He got elected almost 14 months ago but where's the tangible proof of him following through on those promises to the community do better and act more prudently on behalf of residents and taxpayers? 

b.) I also won't be supporting anyone who can't/won't figure out how to send even one public email in the course of their first few months in office, much less their first year in office, outlining their priorities for the city and laying out the specific steps they favor in accomplishing those goals. What's the plan?

c.) Everyone has individual strengths and weaknesses they bring to bear on a campaign,as well as different ideas for making this city the better place it ought to clearly be already but isn't, largely because of th awful public policy advocated and approved by the Cooper Rubber Stamp Crew.

That status quo majority is literally strangling the life out of this city, and as I kow from many conversations with people who have invested in this city, chasing some small businesses out-of-town thru HB City Hall's red tape and continued incompetence.
All made worse by City Hall's unwillingness to hold individual city employees and Dept. heads responsible, including the Police & Fire Dept.

That's precisely why getting many MORE people in town involved and having honest 
public discussions and debate is the only chance we have of saving the city.
That will be impossible without the genuine support and meaningful numbers from residents living on A1A.
Any approach that ignores this reality is doomed to failure.

So with that in mind, if a candidate doesn't appear to be capable of the sort of city-wide consensus-building we need, a straight-talker who is capable of hosting even one public meeting within a few months of their being elected, outlining their goals and what they see as the biggest problems to resolve within the city, I will let you know and you can act however you think is best.

In case you hadn't noticed or preferred not to be reminded of it because it's so dispiriting to consider, with respect to both b and c above, our current reality with both Commissioners Julian and Lazarow is such that although both got elected almost 14 months ago, each has failed to pass even the very low threshold I suggest.

Zero emails to the public at large or even a pretense of discussing public policy on a website of theirs so that HB residents would know what they were thinking,
Zero Q&A public meetings with HB residents, to say nothing of having anything approaching the scope and citizen interaction of what former Comm. Keith London did so successfully for so many years.
Yes, it's exactly what it looks like.

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