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 and Europe, especially the UK 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. Photo in upper-left is Hallandale Beach's iconic beachball-colored Water Tower on State Road A1A, September 2008; March 2018 photo below of North Beach, looking left-to-right, looking north, HYDE Condominium, Etaru Japanese Robatayaki restaurant, and Hollywood Beach in the distance, with umbrellas. All photos by me, © Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Red-light cameras in Florida are on their way out and Hallandale Beach is FINALLY doing the right thing to end the revenue-generating scheme that has NOT made the city safer, but rather has made it quite infamous in South Florida; Csba Kulin weighs-in with insight and cold stone facts; @RLNOOZ

This video above ought to look familiar to almost anyone who lives in southeast Broward County, or in next-door northeast Miami-Dade County, the most traffic-gridlocked areas in the entire state of Florida. The reason? Lots of video of Hallandale Beach's detested red-light cameras in action!
Local10's Roger Lohse reports:
Study: Red-light cameras making some Fla. intersections more dangerous 
Feb 02 2014 11:34:20 PM EST   
Updated On: Feb 02 2014 11:47:11 PM EST

Per the independent survey (by mail) of Hallandale Beach residents that was conducted a few years ago by a Kansas-based company that my friend and fellow Hallandale Beach & Broward County civic activist Csaba Kulin references below, along with some previous emails of mine about the subject, it's important for those of you who are new to the blog or far from here to know that the survey was full of 'loaded' questions that were quite clearly of the City Commission's choosing -i.e. Mayor Joy Cooper's, NOT ones the public wanted to ask and get answers to, which is to say that the questions were deliberately tilted in favor of a positive response for the city to begin withthe red-light cameras were cited by Hallandale Beach residents as one of the 4 worst things about the city, a fact that the mayor consistently underplayed since she was the champion lobbyist of American Traffic Solutions, ATS,

Mayor Cooper consistently failed to see the facts that most of us could see clearly at the time: it was a pretense to increase the city's revenue, not a reasonable attempt to solve actual safety problems in this city that is boxed-in by the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway to ther east and I-95 to the west, and only one road that bisects the city and allows north-south travel, U.S.-1/Federal Highway .

Mayor Joy Cooper only saw revenue - $$$.
And she was perfectly happy to take money from drivers making legal right-hand turns on red when there was no oncoming traffic, if her cameras said that the drivers didn't wait long enough.
And what was the result of that?
Lawsuits that the city lost and had to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in refunds and damages.

Much of that citizen discontent was not just because of simple policy differences but rather as I've discussed here previously, because of the rather egregious and ham-handed way that the city's program and partnership with ATS was rolled-out, with little transparency and public disclosure about relevant details that citizens like me specifically asked for and were entitled to have.
Details that, in the abstract, you'd think the city -any city- would want to have out on the table before the public if they were genuinely interested in getting the real facts out where everyone could see them so that smart choices were necessarily be made.
But Mayor Cooper and Hallandale Beach City Hall weren't interested in that.

Yes, it was yet another in the hundreds of examples over ther past ten years I've lived here where the powers-that-be at HB City Hall, like the HBPD, dis the mayor's bidding and did NOT 
cooperate because they wanted certain results, not a fair discussion and analysis of the problem and the unique geographical factors we have in this city: 3 city streets carry well over 90% of all traffic, and only one road exists that connects the eastern residents of the city on the beach with I-95. 
A complete lack of options.

Plus, there's the city's failure to actually post warning signs like other communities routinely did -where you could see them.
Instead, they had them placed behind a bus shelter located near the entrance to a retail complex -home of The Knife Argentinian restaurant- so that you couldn't  see the sign until you were even with it as you drove north on U.S.-1.
A sign that was located on the inside of the sidewalk, not where you could see it near the curb, as is the case for most but not all of those RLC warning signs in next-door Hollywood.

Even now, as I saw again yesterday, the city's warning sign on NW 10th Court & Hallandale Beach Blvd. is almost impossible for drivers to see given that there are multiple signs in front of it and it's placed in-between trees.  
Just as it has been for YEARS.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Csaba Kulin
Date: Thu, Feb 27, 2014 at 12:24 PM
Subject: Red Light Cameras in WSJ

February 27, 2014

Hallandale Beach Residents,
Due to the relentless hard work of our residents and three courageous Hallandale Beach commissioners, Commissioners Julian, Lazarow and Sanders we can say “goodbye” to the hated red light cameras. Unexpectedly even Vice Mayor Lewy joined the majority, stating in the Sun Sentinel that the time has come to remove them. Only the unrepentant believer in the red light cameras, Mayor Cooper voted to keep it.
I knew it was a bad idea from the start, thirty eight (38%) percent of our residents did not like it when the City surveyed us. Under the slogan of “the beatings will continue until morale improves”, we had to endure the punishment and enriched the coffers of ATS for several years to come.
There had been a lot written about the issue but today the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) had an article on its front page about “Number of Communities Using Red-Light Cameras Declines”. The article is good reading but please read the more than seventy reader comments. The comments reflect the public’s view on this issue.
I attached a link to the WSJ article for your convenience.

---------- Forwarded message ----------

Date: Mon, Feb 24, 2014 at 3:55 PM
Subject: FYI: Csaba Kulin re the City of Hallandale Beach's Red-Light Camera contract with American Traffic Solutions (ATS) which calls for city taxpayers to shell-out $150k if city terminates contract before Dec. 31 -as they've voted to do

After all the dozens of blog posts and emails I've written on the subject of RLC's over the past few years, and all of the meetings I recorded, trust me when I tell you this: at NONE of the public meetings in Hallandale Beach that I or anyone else attended, before and after the ATS contract was signed and RLC cameras were initially erected -over the intense opposition of the majority of this community's citizens -in part because of where they were put up:  NOT where traffic accidents involving speeding actually happened!- were termination fees discussed.

Least of all, mentioned publicly by Mayor Joy Cooper, who received so much from Arizona-based ATS via campaign contributions funds and emotional support, and whose tune she has always danced and sung in public and in Op-Eds.

There was never any discussion of it or the the amount until AFTER the HB City Commission finally voted to get rid of it and the mayor was on the losing 4-1 side.
We got the specific numbers$ last week, weeks after the vote where both the City Attorney and City Manager couldn't answer numerous basic questions about the contract at the meeting where the vote to rid us of the cameras took place.

To most careful observers of what's going on here, which does not include the Herald or the Sun-Sentinel, the sudden need by City Hall to talk about termination fees seems like a rather ham-handed and obvious attempt by city administrators and city bureaucrats to justify keeping the contract, despite the will of the people actually being expressed forcefully thru the elected City Commission for one of the rare times in the past ten years, albeit years after they should've.
This from bureaucrats who routinely waste money hand-over-fist into the tens of millions.

re Unamortized amounts invested:
Also never discussed when Mayor Cooper and Police Chief Dwayne Flournoy were championing it as a safety measure despite all the evidence to the contrary that it was being done to generate revenue for City Hall: it would be HB taxpayers' obligations to pay for something -equipment- that would not be used if the contract was terminated.
Folks, it's NOT a perishable cake or pizza or a time-sensitive airline ticket we're being forced to pay for, it's metal, wires and software that can be used over-and-over.
So why are we going to have to pay ATS a hidden profit for something that the next govt. foolish enough to use it will also have to pay for?

Question for the media to ask the Mayor and Police Chief: if it's all about public safety, why all these years later are there still ZERO of the required warning signs for it on either west-bound or east-bound Hallandale Beach Blvd. as you approach that U.S.-1 intersection?


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Csaba Kulin
Date: Mon, Feb 24, 2014 at 11:43 AM
Subject: RE: Red Light Camera Contract
To: "Whitfield, Lynn" <lwhitfield@hallandalebeachfl.gov>
Cc: becjuli@aol.commlazarow@hallandalebeachfl.govalex@hallandalebeachfl.govonevision4life@aol.comrmiller@hallandalebeachfl.govNrafols@hallandalebeachfl.gov

February 24, 2014
Dear City Attorney Ms. Whitfield,
Thank you for your quick response to my e-mail and thank you for your explanation before and during the February 19, 2014 City Commission Meeting. As I stated to you at the time, I did not get your e-mail before the meeting and I did not have sufficient time to read the entire Agreement between the City and ATS. Now I had the time to read the Agreement and I do see the ARTICLES you referred to during the meeting.
To memorialize the essence of your comments let me see if I remember them correctly. Of course, if you remember differently, please let me know.
You told me that ARTICLE 1, TERM of the Agreement reads “the term of this Agreement be five (5) years and shall begin on the date immediately following conclusion of warning period”. That is the reason the Agreement shall not terminate until December of 2014. You are absolutely correct but you did not tell me about the “however” in the clause, the second part of ARTICLE 1.
The second part of the TERM Section reads “if the term of this Agreement extends beyond a single fiscal year of CITY, the continuation of this Agreement beyond the end of any fiscal year shall be subject to both the appropriation and the availability of funds in accordance with Florida law”The language indicates to me that on less the City Commission budgets funds in the next fiscal year the Agreement is terminated at the end of this fiscal year, maybe earlier if no funds are available. No mention of the City’s obligation to pay ATS any “unamortized amounts invested”.
I mentioned in my comments ARTICLE 7, TERMINATION, Section 7.3, the CITY’s right to terminate the Agreement for “convenience”.
Part 1 of the Section 7.3 reads “In the event this Agreement is terminated for convenience, VENDOR shall be paid for any services properly performed under the Agreement through the termination date specified in the written notice of termination. I agree, the VENDOR should be paid for services already performed.
Part 2 of Section 7.3 reads “VENDOR acknowledges and agrees that it has received good, valuable and sufficient consideration from CITY, the receipt and adequacy of which are, hereby acknowledged by VENDOR, for CITY’s right to terminate this Agreement for convenience”This tells me that the VENDOR has received sufficient consideration from the City to cancel for “convenience” at any time. No mention of the City’s obligation to pay ATS any “unamortized amounts invested”.
ATS may argue for “unamortized amount invested” in ARTICLE 7, TERMINATION, Section 7.5. In my opinion, this Section is very poorly worded, ambiguous and unconscionably one sided favoring ATS.
 “Any termination of this agreement by the City shall be without any liability or damages to ATS, except if the Agreement is terminated pursuant to 7.1 above the City shall pay ATS the unamortized amount invested by ATS in the program at the date of termination by the City”. At a minimum, a comma should have been placed between “above and the City” to make the Section easier to read.
What does this above sentence say? The City pays the entire 5 years worth of payments no matter what? Does the City have any contemporary documentation as to the “amortized amount invested” or ATS will give it to the City now?
I cannot understand how the City’s law department “signed off” on the cause and I do not believe our City Commission was made aware of this cause prior to approving the Agreement. Had the City Commission decided to cancel the Agreement one month into the 60 month contract, the City would have been required to pay close to $750,000 to ATS? Am I wrong to assume this?
In my opinion there are sufficient questions concerning this Agreement and a significant amount of money demanded by ATS to hire an outside counsel to advise the City as to the proper course to follow.
You stated that the City Manager has the information as to the dates of grace period and start of the Agreement. She also has documents as to the amount invested by ATS and an amortization schedule of amount invested by ATS. I will ask her for that information.
I hope you will find the time to correct me where I am wrong because I do not want disseminate partial or incorrect information.
Csaba Kulin

--- lwhitfield@hallandalebeachfl.gov wrote:

From: "Whitfield, Lynn"
To: "ckulin Bill Julian, "Lazarow, Michele"  "Lewy, Alexander" , Commissioner Anthony Sanders
CC: "Miller C., Renee" , "Rafols, Nydia M"
Subject: RE: Red Light Camera Contract
Date: Wed, 19 Feb 2014 23:01:30 +0000
Mr. Kulin
If you look at the contract, the effective date is not until after the expiration of the warning period.  The warning period did not begin until after the cameras and system were installed which was not immediately after the contract was signed.  With the installation of the cameras and the 90 day warning period the contract did not become effective until December 2009. 

V. Lynn Whitfield
City Attorney
AV Preeminent ® rated, the highest rating by Martindale-Hubbell
AV Preeminent® is a registered certification mark of Reed Elsevier Properties, Inc.
Used under in accordance with the Martindale-Hubbell certification procedures, standards
And policies.
Description: Description: Description: cid:image003.png@01CDF989.5FBEFBC0Description: Leap Logo

From: Csaba Kulin
Sent: Wednesday, February 19, 2014 5:16 PM
To: Billy Julian; Lazarow, Michele; Lewy, Alexander; Commissioner Anthony Sanders
Cc: Whitfield, Lynn; Miller C., Renee; Rafols, Nydia M
Subject: Red Light Camera Contract

Dear Commissioners,

In the short time I had to look over the ATS contract it seems to me that the City entered into a 5 year contract in 2009 with ATS.
ATS signed the Contract February 24, 2009 and the City signed the Contract March 5, 2009.

You can find the signatures on pages 19 and 20 of the Contract.

On less the City signed a 2 year option, the contact is just about expired.

I hope you have time to confirm my findings by tonight's meeting.

Csaba Kulin

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sat, Jan 25, 2014 at 2:24 PM
Subject: re Sun-Sentinel's incomplete story re red-light cameras getting the boot in Hallandale Beach -just another example of their shallow reporting missing-the-mark 

Would've been nice if the Sun-Sentinel, for a change -FOR ONCE- actually focused on the myriad reasons why HB citizens have been calling for RLC to go for years, including an honest accounting of the the history of Mayor Cooper, City Hall and HBPD consciously deciding NOT to share public info on traffic accidents so that citizens could actually see where largest number of accidents occurred.

Once again, when presented with a story on a silver platter about a dysfunctional HB story that cried out for some genuine depth in it, the Sun-Sentinel went for the bury-'em-with-quotes 
approach that left HB's unique perspective completely unexplored, and has instead left objective observers just as confused as to why this happened here instead of happening in another city.
How can they bring the word trend into the story without ever explaining how it all happened?
What would those common components in other cities be that could make it happen elsewhere?
They don't say.
Until that paper is sold and new management and reporters are there, that paper 
is an afterthought when it comes to local news and political coverage.

No mention at all of the city starting a RLC program before the state authorized one, and with so little attention to detail by the City, HBPD or then-City Attorney David Jove that required warning signs were actually obscured from the public driving by, as I noted at the time with photos connecting-the-dots.
All these years later, there's still ZERO warning signs on either east-bound or west-bound 
Hallandale Beach Blvd. approaching U.S.-1

Those required warning signs on the median near NW 10th Terrace were NOT there when the 
city started their program or when the state did but much later.
I know because I have the photos that show that lack of attention to detail at the 
time, and most of you have already seen them.

They didn't want to do that because they knew that if the facts came out, they'd be hard-pressed to explain why they were so insistent on placing cameras in places that'd clearly generate less REVENUE, including the illegal right-hand turn money they were getting hand-over-fist at the beginning that got the city so much negative media coverage across the state.

South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Red-light cameras kicked to curb - Hallandale yanks them, but will others follow?

Monday, February 17, 2014

Megan McArdle's remarkable new book proves what we all know inherently about the U.S. identity -and which Michael Barone conveniently reminds us of: Americans learn to succeed by learning from failure; perseverance and motivation matters; @MichaelBarone, @asymmetricinfo

Megan McArdle's remarkable new book proves what we all know inherently about the U.S. identity -and which Michael Barone conveniently reminds us of: Americans learn to succeed by learning from failure; perseverance and motivation matters; @MichaelBarone, @asymmetricinfo
My mother sent me an interesting email this morning from Central Florida about author Megan McArdle's new book because she heard her interviewed today on the Diane Rehm Show, which as I've mentioned many times here previously, I listened to every weekday for 15 years when I lived and worked in the Washington D.C. area from 1988-2003, but less so since returning to South Florida 10 years ago.
When I read her email, I recalled that Michael Barone had written something positive about it recently, below.

Many years ago, probably the late '90's, there was a huge storefront window display on the ground floor of a large office bldg. on K Street & 15th in Washington where a client I did work for frequently had an office.
It's the Southern Railway Building in the Federal Triangle area of D.C. 

It featured some red, white and blue bunting and had numerous photos of Abraham Lincoln -whom I'm distantly related to via the Holmes family- and consisted of a list of the number of times that Lincoln ran for elective office -and lost.
Lost over-and-over and then some.
But he kept persevering -and he learned from his mistakes.

Wish I'd had both a top-quality camera and a blog back then, so I could share the photos of that display with you here!

You can hear Megan McArdle discuss her book here:

Washington Examiner
Americans learn to succeed by learning from failure
FEBRUARY 5, 2014 AT 5:00 PM
America succeeds because Americans fail and forgive. That's the intriguing message -- or part of it -- of Megan McArdle's new book The Up Side of Down: Why Failing Well Is the Key to Success.
McArdle, a Bloomberg blogger and columnist, stands out among economic writers, and not just because she’s the only woman among them who is 6-foot-2. She combines a shrewd knowledge of economics and practical experience with a writing style that every so often segues into comedy monologue.
Read the rest of the article at:

More from Megan McArdle at @asymmetricinfo:

You also might want to check out one of my all-time favorite books, The Corporate Steeplechase: Predictable Crises in a Business Career by Srully Blotnick, from 1984.
More insight into business, human behavior and personality types than you'll read just about anywhere.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Blogger, corruption-fighter and Friend-of-the-Blog Chaz Stevens getting his due yet again, as Buddy Nevins of Broward Beat connects-the-dots on what we've known for awhile: "Blogger Beats Sun-Sentinel Like A Drum"; irrelevancy of South Florida Sun-Sentinel

So, did you happen to read this the other day?
More thoughts re the almost-complete irrelevancy of South Florida Sun-Sentinel and blogger, corruption-fighter and Friend-of-the-Blog Chaz Stevens getting his due yet again.

Broward Beat
Blogger Beats Sun-Sentinel Like A Drum
By Buddy Nevins
February 12, 2014
Blogger Chaz Stevens has done it again – prompting prosecutors to launch an investigation of a city official.
This time it is Jonathan K. Allen, city manager of Lauderdale Lakes, who is being probed for alleged bid rigging.
Stevens has been pounding Allen for quite some time.
Read the rest of the post at:

See my previous blog posts below about Chaz doing what others, including (unfortunately) the vast majority of South Florida's reporters, were reluctant to do: actual investigating and fact-checking and holding elected officials and govt. bureaucrats accountable.
Where there's smoke there's not only fire, in South Florida, there's usually incompetency & corruption, too.  

December 6, 2010
South Florida's apathetic news media; Giving credit where credit is rightly due: Buddy Nevins: "Blogger Chaz Stevens Scores Again"

April 17, 2011
Blogger Chaz Stevens vindicated, Sylvia Poitier arrested: An ethical journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step

June 27, 2011 
A visit to The Institute for the Advancement of Political Corruption, in Deerfield Beach, is a trip your kids will never forget! And neither will you!

October 7, 2013
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

Find more on Chaz here:

@TweetsByMAOS - https://twitter.com/TweetsByMAOS

re Hyde Beach Resort project on Hollywood Beach: In the year 2014, nobody at Hollywood City Hall in Planning Dept. or elsewhere was able (or willing) to answer simple question re what happened the night before at its own Planning & Development meeting. Really?

Looking SW at City of Hollywood City Hall. January 28, 2014 photo by South Beach Hoosier. © 2014 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved
Per my last blog post, February 8, 2014, Latest news re The Hyde Beach Resort project on Hollywood Beach -the former Beach One Resort- right next to the Hallandale Beach Water Tower on State Road A1A: goes to the Hollywood Planning & Development Board on Thursday February 13th at 6 p.m.

...since I was at the developer's meeting at Ingall's Park in SW Hallandale Beach re the new 24-hour CVS drug store being proposed for Northeast Hallandale Beach on the NW corner of Hallandale Beach Blvd. & Three Islands Blvd., I was not able to attend that meeting up in Hollywood at the same time.

Looking NW at corner of City of Hollywood City Hall. February 9, 2014 photo by South Beach Hoosier. © 2014 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved
It's patently ridiculous that in the year 2014, that when I or anyone else wants to find out the basics of what happened at the City of Hollywood's Planning & Development meeting Thursday night at City Hall regarding whether Hyde Beach Resort's owners received those flex units they wanted, there's not only nothing on the city's website, but when you show up at Hollywood City Hall in person and go up to the Planning Dept. to find out, as I did, you're told that nobody there at Hollywood City Hall can answer your simple question.


This failing is definitely something I will bring up soon to Hollywood's City Manager the next time I see her.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Latest news re The Hyde Beach Resort project on Hollywood Beach -the former Beach One Resort- right next to the Hallandale Beach Water Tower on State Road A1A: goes to the Hollywood Planning & Development Board on Thursday February 13th at 6 p.m.

Inline image 1

Notice that the artist's rendering of the project above, to the right, which I snapped at Hollywood's Planning Dept. this week -a plan which is completely different in design and scope from the original plan approved by the Hollywood City Comm. for the Beach One Resort, which was truly beautiful- does NOT show the Apogee right next to it 
And also does NOT show the effect of The Related Group's North Beach plans for a building where the old Beachside Cafe was located.

(Which the City of HB had ZERO renderings of at the beach for residents and visitors to see at both its groundbreaking weeks ago or at any point since then, contrary to common sense or any sense of getting the community to buy into it.)

Also NOT shown -the iconic HB Water Tower.
That's THREE neighbors NOT shown in one rendering.

But then the rendering for Apogee wasn't so accurate back in 2012 either, were they?
Just saying.

Below, from February 2012.

February 10, 2012 photo by South Beach Hoosier © 2012 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved

My previous blog posts on this very important parcel on A1A are here:

June 2008 Artist rendering of aerial view of Beach One Resort, Hollywood, FL
Carlos A. Ott, Architect from submitted documents to the City of Hollywood Development Review Board. September 11, 2008 photo by South Beach Hoosier

October 4, 2008

Naming Names Herald-style -Beach One Resort Hotel in Hollywood Passes Round One 

http://hallandalebeachblog.blogspot.com/2008/10/naming-names-herald-style-beach-one.html and 

October 18, 2008
Beach One Resort's Approval in Hollywood Provokes Wrath and Harsh Words at Hallandale Beach City Commission

October 21, 2008
Cleavage Grows Larger b/w City of Hallandale Beach and Hollywood After Beach One Resort Approved

December 5, 2008
Sue-happy Hallandale Beach vs. Hollywood re Beach One Resort

JUNE 15, 2012 
Hallandale Beach Mayor Joy Cooper's old threats & lawsuits re-emerge as Hollywood's Beach One Resort sues over its access to the beach, the latest shoe to drop in The Related Group's Beachwalk project that'd make HB's North Beach a de facto private beach for The Related Group's properties, NOT a public beach for HB residents

Monday, February 3, 2014

Robert Wechsler analyzes it @CityEthics and I can confirm it: Despite best efforts of Broward Inspector General, the state of ethics in Broward County, FL at municipal level is poor and getting worse with "friends" like the Broward League of Cities, fresh from their trying to create loopholes in Broward's hard-won, voter-approved ethics laws, and now looking for a paid spokesmodel to peddle their anti-taxpayer nonsense that's paid for in large part BY Broward's taxpayers; Hallandale Beach City Hall continues to be one of the true ethics hotspots in Florida, given the unwillingness of its elected officials & high-paid staff to follow state & federal laws, esp. those re transparency & participation

Above, Broward Inspector General John W. Scott at a Broward League of Women Voters event in Coconut Creek, FL on January 24, 2013. photo by South Beach Hoosier.© 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved. From my May 31, 2013 blog post at

Robert Wechsler analyzes it @CityEthics and I can confirm it: Despite best efforts of Broward Inspector General, the state of ethics in Broward County, FL at municipal level is poor and getting worse with "friends" like the Broward League of Cities, fresh from their trying to create loopholes in Broward's hard-won, voter-approved ethics laws, and now looking for a paid spokesmodel to peddle their anti-taxpayer nonsense that's paid for in large part BY Broward's taxpayers; Hallandale Beach City Hall continues to be one of the true ethics hotspots in Florida, given the unwillingness of its elected officials & high-paid staff to follow state & federal laws, esp. those re transparency & participation

South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Next step for ethics reform in Broward
January 30, 2014

The Broward Office of the Inspector General needs help. So do local politicians who want to attend community events while staying on the right side of the county's ethics code.

Inspector General John Scott is calling for the addition of an ethics official or commission to ensure government leaders get consistent advice about accepting gifts or trips -- and an impartial review when rules might have been violated. 

Scott is working on such a proposal for the November ballot. 

And he is on the right track. 

Already, some politicians are objecting, decrying another level of bureaucracy. Some fear an independent body might call out those who are simply trying to do the public's business. 

They should look to history and remember how we got to where we are today. 

Two years ago, voters demanded a new ethics code after watching far too many elected officials hauled off in handcuffs, charged with bribery and public corruption. The headlines continue even today, as readers of the Sun Sentinel well know. 

To enforce the ethics code, commissioners tasked the inspector general's office with investigating and prosecuting potential violations. However, since the referendum's passage, Scott and his staff have discovered problems that need addressing. 

For example, for advice on accepting a gift or free trip, local officials now mostly turn to their city or county attorneys. The result is a plethora of local opinions about what politicians can accept as a freebie. In the past two years, some 900 legal advisories have been served up countywide, the inspector general's office reports. 

These advisories can put government attorneys in the awkward position of having to tell their bosses bad news about taking free stuff -- or how to find a way around the law's intent. They also provide cover to politicians who may be seeking personal gain. 

After recently reviewing legal opinions from Weston to Sunrise to Fort Lauderdale, Sun Sentinel reporter Brittany Wallman found politicians are accepting questionable gifts and perks. 

In Miramar, for example, city attorney Jamie Cole told Commissioner Winston Barnes he couldn't accept 10 free tickets to the circus last year, but suggested the circus could provide "promotional" tickets to the city that could then be given to Barnes guilt-free. 

City attorneys similarly told the mayors of Miramar and Hallandale Beach they could accept free trips to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, though it's hard to see the public benefit there. 

Hallandale city attorney V. Lynn Whitfield told Mayor Joy Cooper the trip was allowed if it somehow promoted "the exchange of ideas between, or the professional development of, governmental officials or employees." She even said Cooper could bring along her husband, all expenses paid, so long as she reported it as a gift. Cooper went, but did not take her husband along. 

The vast majority of local politicians work to do the right thing, no question. But a recent report shows public corruption in Florida continues to rank among the worst in the nation. Between 1998 and 2007, 824 Florida officials were convicted on public corruption charges at the local, state and federal level. The New York Times says the totals may be worse than in any other state. 

Ironically, in the face of this news, Florida lawmakers are considering a proposal to loosen the ethics reins. Legislation filed this month by Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, would strip many gift-reporting requirements for public officials and officially protect them if they have a legal advisory in hand. 

Meanwhile in Broward, the person responsible for investigating ethics complaints says that to improve the process, the system needs to be tweaked. We encourage county commissioners and the Broward League of Cities to embrace his goal and ensure that public officials countywide play by the same rules and definitions. 

Given our history with public corruption, it's time we got this right. 



South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Broward needs an ethics czar, inspector general says 2014 could bring next phase of reform, but it's sure to spark controversy with city officials 
By Brittany Wallman, Sun Sentinel
January 5, 2014

South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Inspector: Ethics system flawed
Brittany Wallman , Staff writer 
February 1, 2014
When it comes to public ethics, nobody does it like Broward County. And that's not a good thing, the county's top corruption cop says.

Keep in mind as you digest the thoughts expressed above that this outrage comes from the same Tribune Company-owned newspaper editorial board that has refused to post a single editorial in over two years on the Hallandale Beach CRA scandal that has cost tens of millions of dollars with very little tangible to show for it.
Yes, people do notice those things.
People like me.

Which is why I made a point of not only attending the Broward IG's oversight meeting on November 8th in downtown Ft. Lauderdale but actually spoke there, one of the few citizens to do so in a meeting where the public comments were largely from municipal officials who were trying desperately to plead for the right to keep their parochial self-serving way of doing things, rather than having one firm set of ethical rules covering all officials.

And did you notice that the Sun-Sentinel editorial didn't name the attorneys for the Broward League of Cities who are trying to dig holes and loopholes for its members, even though they know full-well who it is? 

Why do you suppose that is?
(Sam Goren, the attorney who wears multiple hats in this county, just like Steve Geller did.)

Yes, because they also love to quote him on other matters and don't want to "out" one of their reliable Usual Suspects who will talk on any subject, no matter how poorly-informed he is, because he knows the paper will never mention his egregious conflicts-of-interest.

The following links from Robert Wechsler are placed here in reverse chron order:

City Ethics blog 

Florida League of Cities' Ethics Reform Proposals I - Preventing the Filing of Complaints
by Robert Wechsler

City Ethics blog 

Florida League of Cities' Ethics Reform Proposals II - Gifts, Ethics Advice, and Training
by Robert Wechsler

City Ethics blog 

Florida League of Cities' Ethics Reform Proposals III - Placing Shackles on Countywide Ethics Programs
by Robert Wechsler

City Ethics blog 

FL League of Cities' Ethics Proposals IV - Local Govt. Assocs. Should Not Lobby re Conflicts of Interest
by Robert Wechsler

City Ethics blog

Good News from Florida Legislative Leaders
by Robert Wechsler

City Ethics blog

A Government Attorney Ethics Advice Case Study from Florida
by Robert Wechsler

Broward Beat
Update: Ethics Police Won’t Punish Sheriff Israel 
By Buddy Nevins
January 30, 2014

City Ethics blog

Broward County IG Report on Countywide Ethics Program
by Robert Wechsler

*By the way, the Broward League of Cities is now looking for spokesmodel to peddle their anti-taxpayer nonsense that's paid for BY taxpayers -here's the RFP

South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Inspector general has cases cooking 
By Brittany Wallman 4:23 p.m. EDT, 
October 31, 2013

South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Corruption watchdog gets positive review 

By Brittany Wallman

November 9, 2013 


South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Inspector general's Hallandale probe painful
By Brittany Wallman
November 11, 2013

Not mentioned in the Broward IG article above about Hallandale Beach is the testimony that came out of the Broward IG Oversight Committee meeting I was at that caused nearly everyone in the room to start laughing out loud, and even hoot.
That is, everyone but Hallandale Beach CRA Attorney Stephen W. Zelkowitz and CRA Director Daniel Rosemond.
It was all I could do to not record myself laughing on my videocamera!

It turns out that someone accompanied Hallandale Beach Mayor Joy Cooper to her meeting with the Broward IG's office.
Like all people who had to speak to them, Mayor cooper was allowed to bring someone with her if she chose, but when asked who the person with her was, she told them that it was here attorney when it was NOT.
The truth came out in a way that really hammered home Mayor Cooper's well-known mendacity -the person that the mayor had claimed was her attorney was actually one of her mayoral campaign workers, who taped her comments.

It's not mentioned in the Broward Politics blog tweets below or the articles but as many of you may recall from my emails in November, I specifically recommended that either the Broward IG Oversight Comm. or the Broward County Commission formally require that in the future, when the IG's office is formally investigating a specific Broward city or a CRA, that they be required to have at least one public forum for the affected community to attend and get the basic info on what is -and is NOT- happening, and what the process consists of so that everyone is on the same page.

A public meeting that is NOT for city employees, administrators or elected officials to show-up at and complain about being picked on, blamed, or made the scapegoat for others, etc.
Anyone drawing a govt. paycheck there whom the IG Office wants to interview under oath should NOT have a chance to poison the public well before they know what the process is.

I mentioned publicly during my testimony that despite how much I've written about this subject and what I've sent to most of you in emails with links to that's appeared elsewhere, esp. in the Broward Bulldog, that I was forever running into people all over the area who asked me what was the latest news with  the investigation, despite the fact that their Final Report came out in April.

I usually just shake my head after I tell them what's what and after they've told me, as they often do, that they're "surprised that Mayor Cooper hasn't been arrested yet."

I didn't see the reporting via tweets below until after I'd sent an email out about what happened.
Once I read it, I realized that my intuition was correct about who some of the people were on the other side of the room who didn't speak and whom I didn't recognize.


#HollywoodFL based photographer/entrepreneur Esther Chuang

#HOLLYWOODFL based photographer and entrepreneur Esther Chuang with Hollywood Mayor-elect Josh Levy
Thumbs up! What a night! #HOLLYWOODFL based photographer and entrepreneur Esther Chuang with a very elated Hollywood Mayor-elect Josh Levy at his Victory Party, held at Leo Anato's Atelier3/AT3 on Harrison Street & S. 19th Avenue, Hollywood. AT3's great environment and the amazing variety of food prepared by chef Kevin Dreifuss, former owner/chef of now-closed ENDS MEAT restaurant, was SUPERB! November 8, 2016 Esther Chuang, Morro Dois Irmãos, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2015
Above, perhaps my most-favorite photo ever of Esther, which is really saying something considering the THOUSANDS that I've actually seen of her, from all over the world. But despite the fact that you can't actually see it here, trust me, her amazing smile and inner and external beauty are there. This photo is an even more amazing achievement when you know the backstory of what it took for Esther to get to the top of the mountain, since it's NOT for the faint of heart. Next time you see her, ask her about that! Morro Dois Irmãos, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on her birthday, July 10, 2015. That's the Christ The Redeemer statue way out in the horizon on the top of another mountain, to the left of her head. To the right is the world famous beach of Ipanema and to the left is the equally famous beach of Copacabana. �� In case you forgot what the Christ the Redeemer statue looks like, up close, here's yet another Brazilian beauty to connect-the-dots for you: Gisele Bündchen, aka @Gisele.

Abençoado por Deus e bonito por natureza!✨ ������

A post shared by Gisele Bündchen (@gisele) on

View of Rio De Janeiro from my room.

A post shared by Bebe Rexha (@beberexha) on