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.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Dan Krassner of Integrity Florida re signs of positive momentum for ethics reform/anti-corruption solutions in Florida; Are revanchist elements of Broward County Commission -like Lois Wexler & Barbara Sharief- going to succeed in weakening County's hard-earned ethics code that County & municipal officials (and Broward/Florida League of Cities) have fought hard against for years because they found serious ethics rules incompatible to their personal behavior & lifestyle?; @IntegrityFL

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief appears before ethics commission 
Commission agrees to move forward with allegations Sharief broke the law submitting financial forms filled with mistakes  
Reporter; Carlos Suarez, csuarez@local10.com 
Aired April 25 2014 

Uh, oh!
I guess it's a good thing that the appearance of impropriety doesn't matter in Broward County!!!

This afternoon my overflowing email transom included the following bit of good news from Dan Krassner of Integrity Florida, while below it, I have some well-chosen comments of my own regarding the latest efforts by the revanchist element at the Broward County Commission and Broward League of Cities to fight meaningful accountability for "public servants" in this corrupt county:

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Dan Krassner <dan@integrityfl.org>
Date: Fri, Apr 25, 2014 at 1:15 PM
Subject: Momentum for anti-corruption solutions

Having trouble viewing this email? Click here

Momentum for Anti-Corruption Solutions


The Florida Senate has now passed three major ethics reform bills and the Florida House of Representatives has passed one major ethics reform bill during the 2014 legislative session. Both chambers are expected to take further action in the remaining days of the legislative session, that concludes on May 2, to complete their work on the following anti-corruption measures:

1) SB 846 - Governmental Ethics

On March 26, the Florida Senate passed SB 846 by Senator Jack Latvala unanimously by a vote of 38-0.  The bill was amended by a House committee and is ready for a floor vote in the House, currently on the 2nd reading calendar.  If the House passes the amended SB 846, it would need another vote in the Senate to go to the governor.  If the Senate amends the current House language on SB 846, then the House would need to take an additional vote on the bill if it has new language before it would go to the governor.  There is no House companion bill but House Ethics and Elections Subcommittee Chair Representative Kathleen Passidomo and State Affairs Committee Chair Representative Jim Boyd are driving this initiative in the House.  
SB 846 contains the following:

*    Allows the Florida Commission on Ethics to independently begin investigations when officials fail to file financial disclosure reports;
*    Requires lobbyist disclosure at the state's water management districts;
*    Requires annual ethics training for elected city officials; and
*    Applies portions of the state ethics code to Enterprise Florida and Citizens Property Insurance.

2) SB 602 and HB 571 Residency Requirements for Local and State Candidates and Public Officers

, the Florida Senate passed SB 602 by Senator Jack Latvala unanimously by a vote of 39-0.  The bill includes new residency requirements for local and state candidates and public officials.  The House would need to take action on this measure next and the House companion is HB 571 by Representative Ray Rodrigues. 

3) SB 1632 and HB 1237 Ethics Code for Special Districts

Today, the Florida Senate passed SB 1632 by Senator Kelli Stargel unanimously by a vote of 38-0.  The legislation amends the definition of agency in the state code of ethics to specifically include special districts.  Under the bill, special districts would be required annually to disclose online their ethics codes, budgets, taxes assessed and audits.  The House companion is HB 1237 by Representative Larry Metz and that bill is on today's Special Order Calendar in the House.

4) SB 1328 and HB 1385 Independence of Inspectors General

On April 23, the Florida House of Representatives passed HB 1385 by Representative Dan Raulerson unanimously by a vote of 114-0.  Presently, agency heads are able to appoint and remove their own inspectors general, which creates built-in conflicts of interest.  Under the bill, the agency inspectors general, under jurisdiction of the governor, would report to the governor's chief inspector general.  The state senate would have new oversight to confirm the governor's chief inspector general.  The chief inspector general would make the appointment and removal (only for cause) decisions for the agency inspectors general.  The bill's Senate companion is SB 1328 by Senator Jack Latvala and that measure passed its final Senate committee on April 22.  The full Senate has received SB 1328 for consideration.  HB 1385 is in Senate messages.

As lawmakers enter the final week of the legislative session, Integrity Florida encourages Senate President Don Gaetz, House Speaker Will Weatherford and their colleagues of both political parties to continue to strengthen our state's ethics laws. Now is the time for bold anti-corruption solutions. Integrity Florida remains optimistic that our legislative leaders will deliver on their ethics reform promises.

Dan Krassner
Co-Founder and Executive Director
Integrity Florida

Ben Wilcox
Research Director
Integrity Florida

Integrity Florida is a nonpartisan research institute and government watchdog whose mission is to promote integrity in government and expose public corruption.  More information at www.integrityflorida.org

Like us on Facebook   Follow us on Twitter   View our profile on LinkedIn

Integrity Florida Institute, Inc. | 850.321.0432 | 715 North Calhoun Street, #4 | Tallahassee | FL | 32303
Below, my hastily-written email of yesterday, which has been slightly edited from what I originally sent out:

There's nothing in this Sun-Sentinel article about the fact that Broward County Comm. Lois Wexler and her longstanding campaign of crocodile tears about her getting hungry or thirsty at post-election Broward Elections canvassing meetings, and not being able to get some taxpayer-paid for freebies like donuts and some coffee as is often done for the lower-paid staff who have be present during their non-work hours. 

As I've stated before, this dilettante of a career politician who is paid $92,000 a years in salary needs only to stop at a retail store or restaurant beforehand and PAY for her own water, soft drink, coffee or food and bring it with her to the site of something that she doesn't even have to be at if she doesn't really want to be.

Wexler's own lack of planning beforehand and being hungry or thirsty at somepoint while sitting down in a chair in some County warehouse facility is HER problem, not OURS, and certainly not one that needs to be resolved by weakening hard-earned laws that, to me, are not so accurately described below as much as 
broadly hinted at.

Instead, Wexler's pathetic and never-ending cri-de-coeur for goodies has become the Trojan Horse that has allowed other interested parties in this very corrupt county to attempt to get their nose in the door and get things they want specifically excluded.

For instance, Comm. Barbara Sharief thinking that she shouldn't have to publicly explain/disclose who her own relatives are and the positions they hold that may bear upon some public policy or vote.
In short, she doesn't want to have to publicly report some potential conflicts that having her relatives on the public dime might entail.

It's galling to me that after all these years, there has not been a single reporter in South Florida who has gotten the "mayor" to publicly say why she persists in this childish and selfish effort of hers on this particular issue.
Perhaps it's because she realizes full well how badly and off-putting it will sound to the public -and to voters- so instead she just hints and sighs loudly at meetings about the unfairness of it all.

Sharief never ever gets drilled on this question by a reporter like she would in most parts of the country by a journalist who's willing to pin her down and force her to explain herself. 
Instead, she prefers to pout and infer that she's misunderstood. 

No, when she consciously refuses to account for herself, that's not a simple misunderstanding, that's HER own conscious refusal to publicly enunciate HER own position.
That's HER fault, not the public's!

Why does nobody ask her why she thinks elected officials' families deserve to escape appropriate scrutiny?
Talk about someone who has publicly taken a nosedive because she's betrayed many local resident's hopes that she'd be a reformer.
Instead, Sharief's own words and actions have spoken volumes -all you have to do is look right in front of you.

But then many of you already know that because I was highlighting Sharief's abject failure the past two years, esp. on the issue of the HB CRA, per those frank emails of mine that many of you received, as well as my blog posts of a few months ago while the South Florida media was completely ignoring the fact that the very Broward County commissioner who actually represents that part of the HB community on whose behalf tens of millions of dollars in CRA funds were, effectively, burned -with no tangible results to show for it- had actually been a hindrance to HB citizens like me and many of you who wanted an independent audit by JLAC that would scrupulously investigate where the money had really gone.
Commissioner Barbara Sharief was NOT someone who was helping us.

It's very simple: IF you're not actually helping to increase reasonable public scrutiny, oversight and accountability of government, you're hurting the effort to do so.
Comm. Barbara Sharief has made her choice and it's NOT the side she ought to be on -the taxpayers side.

South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Ethics law declared too strict - Elected officials seek to loosen gift ban, other rules in law demanded by voters
Brittany Wallman, Staff writer
April 23, 2014

In case you're new to my blog and don't know yet what sort of city Hallandale Beach is, I think this answers that question:

"Laws and Constitutions go for nothing where the general sentiment is corrupt."
-New York Times, September 22, 1851

"Why do they need that in the Broward County charter?"
-Hallandale Beach Mayor Joy Cooper at April 2, 2008 HB City Commission meeting, in discussing possible inclusion of Broward County Charter Review Commission's proposal for Ethics Commission to deal with Broward County Commission, on November 2008 ballot.

Six YEARS after the county's voters had overwhelmingly passed an amendment to the County charter requiring its adoption, the Broward County Commission had yet to live up to its legalresponsibility. 
That's why!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Say it ain't so, Johanna? But the sad news out of Sweden Thursday was 100% true: sweet, talented, hard-working and conscientious Johanna Pettersson, aka @tweetsbyjohanna, is leaving Timoteij, and heading to New York to build a career centered on dance. What was once four sweet voices singing in harmony will now be but three :-(

Guess this decision means we'll never see that Kom video after all, eh?


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Political futures of Joe Gibbons and Alexander Lewy are part of the subplot of Wednesday night's crucial vote re the future Quality of Life of Hallandale Beach as City Comm. considers approval of GPH Regency, LLC's incompatible condo project at 2000 S. Ocean Drive

The news last week that Hallandale Beach City Commisioner Alexander Lewy will resign effective in May -story below- really makes what will happen Wednesday night at the continuation of the City Commission's 9-hour April 2nd meeting re GPH Regency, LLC's incompatible project at S. Ocean Drive, flanked by the very large beach condominiums, The Hemispheres and Parker Plaza respectively, much more interesting.
(That was a new low -and record-length for a HBCC meeting.)

The reason is that so long as Lewy was a candidate, the threat of alienating all those very well-informed and highly-motivated Super Voters on the beach -esp. at The Parker Plaza and The Hemispheres- would've been politically unappealing for Lewy, even though he's got a consistent record of being reflexively pro-development.

Even to the point of refusing to postpone for a few weeks the vote on the Beachwalk project next to the Intracoastal Bridge in August of 2012 until the majority of the residents most directly-affected by it had returned from from their summer out-of-town, and could actually be in attendance and make their concerns known.

But Lewy wasn't interested in doing that, even though it would've been the right thing to do, given that the waterfront site had been empty for MANY YEARS, and was sold for a song.
How could waiting 4 more weeks possibly throw everything out-of-kilter?
It couldn't, of course, but like his colleagues, Lewy didn't care.
Instead of doing the right thing for a change, Lewy insisted the vote be held and voted for it while the nearby property owners whose lives would be most affected were left to simmer with their justified anger -out-of-town.

Now, without the abstract threat of thousands of affluent and well-informed voters on the beach withholding their votes from him in the upcoming August primary for the Florida House 100 seat if he were to cast a vote for that incompatible project before us now, Lewy is free to vote for the developer and not have to deal with the logical consequences of such a decision.

South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Alex Lewy quits Hallandale Beach commission, drops out of state House race
By Anthony Man
Sun Sentinel
11:53 AM EDT, April 10, 2014
Original post | 10:40 a.m.
Updated | 11:47 a.m.

Considering all the typing she was doing, this ought to be two full pages of play-by-play, with useful analysis and context of all the players and their motivations.
Reporter seems to have missed more of the meeting given pertinent facts that are missing.

South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Luxury condo wants to call Hallandale Beach home
By Susannah Bryan, Staff writer
10:18 p.m. EDT, April 2, 2014
Not Mission Accomplished:
Meeting of the Board of Directors 
September 18, 2013 

7:30 P.M. - The Plaza Room 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Csaba Kulin and I re the Long Trail of Broken Promises, Alibis & Excuses from City of Hallandale Beach's elected officials, City Manager Miller and Police Chief Flournoy re self-evident safety problems for residents/visitors along NE 14th Avenue; photos

Looking south on NE 14th Avenue from Atlantic Shores Blvd., Hallandale Beach, FL. March 31, 2014 photo by South Beach Hoosier.
Below is an email that was sent this afternoon by my friend and fellow Hallandale Beach & Broward County civic activist Csaba Kulin to Hallandale Beach Mayor Joy Cooper and the following: Hallandale Beach Commissioners Anthony A. Sanders, Alexander Lewy and Bill Julian, City Manager Renee Miller, Police Chief Dwayne Flournoy, Assistant City Manager and CRA Director Daniel Rosemond, City Attorney V. Lynn Whitfield, along with dozens of other HB residents, both those living on or near the heavily-traveled NE 14th Avenue corridor who have been under assault since that road first began construction in February of 2013, as well as those who live elsewhere but commiserate because it's a perfect example of finger-pointing in this city by both elected and appointed officials at Hb City Hall.

The construction revolves around some desperately-needed storm water pipes, after the city has has had years and years of flooding, especially in Northeast Hallandale Beach.

Keep in mind as you read this that this small city that's only 4.2 square miles to begin with, has some tangible geographical constraints that make getting around difficult even in the best of times, and especially during the tourist season, which makes the mess that's been taking place along NE 14th Avenue especially problematic: we have both the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway on the city's east side, with 1-95 to the west, plus numerous impassable canals.
This, in a city with ONLY ONE east-west street that runs throughout it -Hallandale Beach Blvd., where traffic goes to die in SE Broward and become part of gridlock history.

This is made worse by the fact that we have less than a handful of two-way north-south streets east of usually gridlocked U.S.-1/Federal Highway, the road that serves as the very spine of the city, interconnecting it to the City of Aventura and Miami-Dade County to the south and the City of Hollywood to the north. 
U.S-1 is one of just two two-way north-south streets that span the length of the city, the other one being State Road A1A/Ocean Drive over on the beach, which again has Hollywood to the north at its intersection with HBB, and the Village of Golden Beach and Miami-Dade County to the south.

April 9, 2014
Mayor Joy Cooper,
I am sorry you had to experience the indignities of obscene language and gestures the same way as the law abiding residents of N.E. 14th Avenue had been subjected to for well over a year.
I asked the City Commission a number of times for help. Mayor, you tried to pacify me with promises, City Manager Miller did the same and Police Chief Flournoy said that as “manpower” allows he will enforce the One Way Street violators.
During the March 17, 2014 City Commission Meeting  I stated that we only saw one time a police officer handing out traffic tickets. You did NOT believe me.
I have proof from our police department that only two tickets were issued during the past four months, both on November 30, 2013.
When I met with Police Chief Flournoy on April 2, 2014 he said that “even those two citations should NOT have been issued”.
Chief Flournoy told me that ’signage and markings on N.E. 14th Avenue are NOT sufficient and the citations would not stand up court’. The Chief said that ‘it is the city’s responsibility to properly mark the street and install proper signage’.
In my opinion it is inexcusable that our city is unable to mark and install signage to make a One Way Street legal. The City placed our residents in danger and created a risk of liability for the City in case of an accident.
Mayor, we like you to tell us when will the City install legal marking and signs so the police can start to enforce the law immediately?
Please do NOT tell us that we have already suffered over a year and we are used to the danger so a few more months do NOT matter.
The residents of 14th Avenue hope to see the legal markings and signage by the April 22, 2014 community meeting to be sponsored by the City. 
The City Commission has two main functions, making policy and oversight of the operation of the City. We hope that in your oversight capacity you investigate who knew what and when in this unfortunate misunderstanding and share it with the residents.
I attached a couple of pictures to illustrate the current situation on NE 14th Avenue.

Csaba Kulin
President, Fairways North, Inc. 

Looking south from 600 NE 14th Avenue.

The self-evident lack of concern the City of Hallandale Beach and the contractor involved in this project have shown for the safety and health for the residents in that area, who've been treated like prisoners in their own neighborhood, is nothing short of shocking, even by this city's infamous low standards.

Over the past year, from my visits to Csaba and Susan's home, I've taken LOTS of photos illustrating the points that he makes so well above, and have accompanied him when, together, we've measured the distance across Atlantic Shores Blvd. and compared it to the much-shorter distance on NE 14th Avenue, since for reasons that defy logic and common sense, Comm. Alexander Lewy is strangely insisting on changing the parking equation on NE 14th Avenue -once the construction is finished- to angled parking, just like on Atlantic Shores Blvd..

This, despite the fact that it was already changed from angled to its heretofore parallel parking-to-the-curb status a number of years ago so that additional numbers of parking spaces could be created for residents and visitors.
Why would Lewy and the city intentionally want to go backwards in time and create more problems?

It's a reasonable question to ask: Why would a HB City Commissioner who is required to resign his post in August (in order to run for the FL House 100 primary) suddenly wants to micromanage parking in this area full of angry residents when he was completely unconcerned 
with the negative effects of this botched construction project, to say nothing of the very self-evident safety points that Csaba has repeatedly made? 
It's very, very curious.

In any case, angled parking on only the east side of 14th Street is FAR TOO SHORT an area to safely maneuver, since the lack of space necessary to properly back-up without being IN the roadallows no margin for error for drivers and those already on the road.
It's obvious the first time you see it -and yet...

I've taken tons of photos of Atlantic Shores Blvd. and NE 14th Avenue proving these points, so...
Looking south on NE 14th Avenue from Atlantic Shores Blvd., Hallandale Beach, FL. March 31, 2014 photos by South Beach Hoosier.

Even today, after over a year of haphazard construction and coating the area and the inside of residents apts. & condos/cars with dirt, and after I myself have nearly been hit about three separate times by cars driving on the sidewalk or driving the wrong way, the City of Hallandale Beach can't explain why there never was a mobile watering system in place that would keep the massive amounts of dust down to a minimum, as is typical of projects this large that involve moving and shifting tons of buried dirt, road and asphalt.

When you add the large number of residents living in the area just feet away, many who suffer from existing health problems, it really makes you wonder why so little intelligent thought was 
given to this project's cumulative effect on them in the first place, and how little attention to detail there is in general at HB City Hall under the current crew, since they had plenty of time to put remedial actions in place.
But they didn't.

As for the HB Police Chief, you can see for yourself by the recitation that Csaba makes above, despite knowing what he did, when he did, and despite the persistent and legitimate public complaints from Csaba on behalf of his own tenants and neighbors along the street apprising him of the problems, along with the pleas of othersChief Flournoy has yet again failed to act and respond in a satisfactory manner for HB residents, and once again failed to give the public the sort of serious response they were entitled to.

Instead, for all practical purposes, Police Chief Flournoy just shrugged his shoulders.
Just more of the same sort of unsatisfactory attitude and results from him we've come to expect over the past few years.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Forty years after the release of "Waterloo", ABBA is finally celebrated at Waterloo (Station); new book titled "ABBA - The Backstage Stories" by Ingmarie Halling, looks to be the must-buy book of the year for some of us with a certain Old School musical sensibility that leans decidedly towards melody & harmony


Expressen TV's Oscar Julander interviews author Ingmarie Halling about her new book on ABBA.

Bonniervideo YouTube Channel: ABBA - The Backstage Stories Interview with author Ingmarie Halling (ABBA - The Backstage stories intervju med Ingmarie Halling) 
Uploaded February 24, 2014 http://youtu.be/gWoYhDsfEaA

More information on the new book at Bonnier's website under 40 år sedan Waterloo

Photo by South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved.

Above, my photo from January 2013 of the welcoming party that greeted me at the luggage carousel at Arlanda Stockholm Airport... ABBA.  
As seen in my May 7, 2013 blog post titled, "A" is for Awesome and ABBA as the new ABBA Museum in Stockholm officially opens this afternoon. Monday night's gala premiere brought Anni-Frid, Benny and Björn together, cheered on by a select group of invitees from across Swedish society and the music industry, who are, in the end, just fans of the band like everyone else, and very excited that this amazing museum is FINALLY a reality; #abba, #AbbaMuseum, #ThankYouForTheMusic, @stockholm, @sweden

TheSpringOf74 YouTube Channel video: ABBA - Dancing Queen - LIVE at the Royal Swedish Opera, Stockholm, June 18, 1976, at the gala tribute to Sweden's King Carl XV1 Gustaf and future wife and Queen, Silvia Sommerlath, the night before their wedding.
This was the first time the song had ever been performed in public in Sweden. 
Above, in my humble opinion, the single best version of this iconic song ever recorded on film.

#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