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. 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.

Monday, June 23, 2014

#tonedeaf -Once again, Hallandale Beach's thin-skinned, attention-hog of a mayor, Joy Cooper, is saying exactly the wrong thing at the wrong time to frustrated Hallandale Beach residents, taxpayers & small business owners. This time, about increasing the minimum wage, despite the fact that as residents know only too well, far too many of the city's employees and contractors consistently under-perform and yet have no fear of repercussions they'd face anywhere else

Well, so much for starting the new week off in a good mood.
Today's New York Times should serve as a real wake-up call to those in the Hallandale Beach community who, counter-intuitively given the mountain of evidence to the contrary, have been content for years to simply look the other way regarding the lingering questions about Mayor Joy Cooper whenever any discussion occurred amongst straight-talking family members or out-of-town friends about how a city like Hallandale Beach, located in a great geographic location between Miami and Fort Lauderdale and next to the beach, has continued to be such a self-evident mess under her the past dozen years.

That a mean-spirited woman like Joy Cooper with such a demonstrated history of being completely oblivious to the reality of how poorly Hallandale Beach has been run for years under her ruinous anti-democratic reign, and how manifestly under-performing and insolent such a high percentage of the the city's employees have been and continue to be -including Dept. heads and key Administrators- is, admittedly, NOT news.

So that said, why should any of us who DO pay attention to matters hereabouts be the least bit surprised that Cooper is now publicly trying to draw attention to HERSELF by calling for a pay increase for those same employees, as well as the city's army of not-so-competent contractors -i.e Lanzo on NE 14th Avenue in the never-ending pipe/road project from hell; or the firm responsible for the city's third-rate website or the one responsible for the poorly-performing streaming of City meetings, often with no audio or picture for 30 minutes or more...?

More $$$ that Joy Cooper wants to dole out that comes from us -with her taking the bows and thanks- when what we should really be getting from HB City Hall is a long overdue refund and an apology. In fact, multiple apologies!

How truly out-of-touch with HB residents and small business owners is Mayor Cooper?
As if any of us needed more evidence to add to the mountain that's staring us in the face, the article below from today's New York Times shows us.
She wants taxpayers to be be paying more in salary to employees and contractors, Exhibits A and B in what is at the heart of this city's problems: incompetency and bad performance.

To give you a better sense of how true that is, I'll soon be sharing here -complete with fact-filled photos that leave no question about what the reality of the situation is- one self-evident example after another showing how months after I publicly chastised City Manager Renee Miller for about five minutes straight at the combined NE/SE/Beach Quadrant meeting at the The Hemispheres condominium meeting room over on the beach.
Very specific examples of how it's not just Hallandale Beach residents that have realized how phony Miller's high-minded rhetoric and claims to be a reformer were in 2012, but others in Broward County as well.

The short version is that I told Miller that her claims to actually welcome public/neighborhood input and ideas, were, based on the past two years of history, an exaggerated and self-serving lie, and one that her own staff now realized, too. 
Then told her that the proof that her own staff and Dept. heads were tuning her and her high-minded rhetoric from 2012, and having no problem at all in being publicly insolent to the community, with absolutely no fear of repercussions from HER, were precisely what happened to me and has happened to so many of you, belied by Miller's own unsatisfactory behavior/performance/attitude.

I publicly identified three people -including two Dept, heads: Schanz at Parks & Rec and Parkinson at DPW- whom I had contacted via email, both in September and in the weeks prior to the Quadrant meeting, re specific questions involving the HB Parks bond issue and some longstanding problems with the city's Mini Bus transportation system that directly and adversely affects riders.
Problems that the people in charge showed absolutely no desire to accept responsibility for or attempt to satisfactorily resolve.
It will come as no surprise to you that none of the three city employees responded as we'd have a right to expect, despite sending reminders to them that they had failed to respond.
(And that none of the self-evident problems was resolved either.)

And, of course, they've never responded to me in the weeks and months SINCE the Quadrant meeting, despite the fact that they were in the room when CM Miller specifically said that she expected better of her staff. And that, in the end, the person responsible was her.
Well, in most parts of the country, I'd have heard from one of the three in the days afterwards, but here, nothing from the three of them and Miller.
So, yes, it'll be another example of me having to pull off another embarrassing band-aid re HB City Hall's longstanding incompetency and bungling that the local press continues to ignore and that the public has had ENOUGH of to last them a lifetime.

In case you hadn't realized it, a dubious anniversary draws near.
The next few days mark exactly two years since a serious mistake in judgement was made and Rene Miller was hired as Hallandale Beach City Manager.
Despite plenty of people in town giving her the benefit of the doubt long after she proved how unsatisfactory she was to the task, including some of you, Miller has not only proven a compete fraud as to being a reformer and being willing to try new innovative ideas the public supports, she has in fact tried to consolidate her power at HB City Hall by hiring LOTS of cronies of hers from the City of Miami Gardens, her former employer, including the recently-hired new head of Personnel in HB.

Simply put, after two years of her NOT coming anywhere close to effectuating any of the much-needed positive attitude and performance changes among the city's army of employees, City Manager Renee Miller clearly can't be trusted any longer with OUR city's future.
Miller needs to be replaced as City Manager AFTER November's elections, where new faces on the dais will not repeat past mistakes and ignore the reality of perpetual dysfunction that HB residents, taxpayers and small business owners experience everyday.
A long overdue reality check needs to be firmly delivered at HB City Hall this November.
  
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New York Times
Mayors Put Focus on How to Raise Wages for Lowest-Paid Workers in Cities
By SHAILA DEWAN
June 22, 2014

DALLAS — About one in five people in Hallandale Beach, Fla., live below the poverty line. Though it is a small city — 37,000 people, a horse track and a greyhound track — its mayor, Joy Cooper, bellied up to the table during a jobs committee discussion on Saturday among the nation’s mayors and fired off a few questions about raising the minimum wage, if not for the whole city, at least for businesses with city contracts.

“I want to make sure my employees are cared for properly,” Ms. Cooper said later. “I want to have a high-quality work force.”

Read the rest of the article at: 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Observations re Leo Grachow's selection as Hallandale Beach's interim Commissioner: "I thought he was a perfect fit for the job." So says a clearly disconnected-from-reality Comm. Bill Julian, who DIDN'T rate Grachow best, but instead voted BEST the least-qualified of the 3 finalists! Meanwhile, the candidate giving the single-best oral presentation, Chad Lincoln, received a 1 (out of 25) from HB's notoriously thin-skinned Mayor Joy Cooper; voting distribution chart


Above, the May 20th, 2014 voting results of the four members of the Hallandale Beach City Commission for an interim Commissioner to serve the final five months of Comm. Alexander Lewy's term, winnowing a large field of prospective candidates down to eight and then to three. My friend and fellow Hallandale Beach & Broward County activist, Csaba Kulin, one of the eight semi-finalists, created this very helpful chart based on information provided to him afterwards by the City Clerk. Columns 1-4 denote who received votes to make the Top Three and Columns 6-9 indicate the specific number from 1-25 each candidate received.  

Before I step all over my lede below, I should mention that one of the most striking things to happen that evening, something noticed by anyone paying close attention in the room or watching on TV, but as usual, NOT mentioned by Sun-Sentinel reporter Susannah Bryan three days later -as so many salient facts about what really goes on in HB are never acknowledged or mentioned by her in print- was that the individual candidate who the clear consensus of the public in the Commission Chambers felt gave the single-best four-minute oral presentation of the evening, my friend Chad Lincoln, received a measly score of 1 from Mayor Joy Cooper. That is to say, a 1 out of a possible 25 points.

Even if you had never read this pro-reform blog of mine before, or read the rest of this individual blog post, that's really everything you need to know about our thin-skinned, fact-challenged and consistently anti-democratic mayor in a nutshell.

It's been common knowledge for the longest time -in part because I've mentioned it so frequently here after something Mayor Cooper herself said and did- that her biggest fear has long been that the true facts about the state of this city and its longtime mismanagement under her actually get out and penetrate the minds of the people in this state whose opinion she cares about.

That is to say, her pals throughout the area and up in Tallahassee, like the folks at the Florida League of Cities or state Sen. Eleanor Sobel, the latter of whom as I've written here often last year and this year, is always happy to play guard dog for her up in Tallahassee, and help keep the germane facts from getting made public, as Sobel did in running interference for the mayor re the city's completely mismanaged and unethical CRA with the JLAC.

All to prevent an honest audit so that Hallandale Beach residents, taxpayers and small business owners could finally discover where all the tens of millions of CRA dollars went.

So, all this said, smart, articulate and creative straight-talkers like Chad and Csaba were always going to be persona non grata to her no matter what they said or did, despite the fact that they DO know much more about the city and how it's doing than the three candidates who made the final cut. 

Cooper and Julian eliminated the single person most clearly able to articulately challenge and rebut her on the facts and on the policy, with Cooper giving Chad one-tenth of the total that she gave to the person she rated just above him, whom she gave a 10 to.
Yes, the Gospel according to Joy Cooper.

And Comm. Anthony A. Sanders didn't even vote for Grachow to make the Top Three, even while selecting two generally unknown people from Northwest who rarely if ever speak at City Hall during public comments and made blah oral presentations when they had the chance to speak for four minutes that night, so you can see that he has NOT changed a whit since embarrassing himself over his vote to approve the incompatible condo tower at 2000 S. Ocean Drive in April, something that the articulate and affluent voters over on the beach won't be forgetting come November when Sanders is on the ballot.

Now, back to the question of Leo Grachow's selection as Hallandale Beach interim Commissioner: "I thought he was a perfect fit for the job."
So sayeth a clearly disconnected-from-reality Commissioner Bill Julian.

Julian, the HB City Commissioner who was the only one of the four of them voting on Tuesday May 20th, who didn't vote for Etty Sims to be among his Top Three choices of the 8 semi-finalists when he had the chance. Julian was the idiot who rated Sheryl Natelson the highest of the final three -Grachow, Sims, Natelsondespite the fact that she didn't know the answers to most of the questions asked of her, and completely whiffed on all three fact-based questions posed to all the three candidates by Comm. Michele Lazarow, unlike Etty Sims and Leo Grachow.

Honestly, how do you rate the worst-performing candidate of the final three as your highest-scoring, which, in fact, is exactly what Julian did? Well, when you are Bill Julian, it's what we've come to expect and fear -logic and reason as completely alien concepts.

(But I will mention that in the weeks since ranking Mayor Cooper's pal Sheryl Natelson first, Julian has been appointed to his old position of Vice Mayor. Just saying...)

You'd think the Sun-Sentinel reporter who was actually present and saw the whole thing acted out in mind-numbing detail for three-and-a-half hours might have noticed that twisted logic, eh?
Maybe asked Julian directly afterwards how it came to be that the candidate who received the most votes to be in the Top Three, after a very good oral presentation and then nailing the answers in the Q&A, Etty Simshadn't even made Julian's list at all.
Maybe ask Sanders why he didn't vote for Grachow to make the Top Three if, as Julian says, "he was perfect for the job."
Or, ask how it is that the ONLY candidate who 3 of the 4 commissioners ranked as among the Top Three, Etty Sims, DIDN'T get the position.
Those are the questions begging to be asked.

But then that would require Susannah Bryan to do some real reporting, wouldn't it, instead of merely engaging in stenography and taking what is handed to her by the city? Yes.

All of this was exactly the sort of result we could have predicted. 
And in the case of myself and some of you out there, DID
That given a chance, Bill Julian would find a way to blow a golden opportunity to do the right thing for the community and would, instead, screw things up -yet again.

Predicted that the bad, incompetent, incorrigible and completely disconnected-from-reality Bill Julian
the very City Commission candidate who promised the entire city in 2012 that he'd really change his spots, and would, IF given a 2nd chance to serve -after being kicked off by voters in 2010- finally show sound judgement for a change, instead of continually being a laughingstock, NEVER left and never ever changed for the better. It's just that some of you desperately wanted to believe he'd really changed. 
Nope.
Cooper, Julian and Sanders are exactly what they look like.
-----

Sun Sentinel
Hallandale Beach's newest commissioner sails through first City Hall meeting
By Susannah Bryan, Sun Sentinel
7:11 PM EDT, May 23, 2014

HALLANDALE BEACH

Longtime mediator Leo Grachow may have just the right stuff to bring peace to a sometimes testy city commission, some say.

The native New Yorker was chosen from a field of 18 candidates Tuesday and sworn in as a commissioner the very next evening.

After the swearing-in ceremony, Grachow took a seat on the dais for his first meeting as a commissioner.


"It was a long agenda and sometimes that can get contentious," Grachow said. "But it went pretty smooth."

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/

Me in the Summer of 2016

Me in the Summer of 2016
Above, me in June, pre-recent haircut, near acres and acres of orange groves off Scenic U.S. #17 in Frostproof, FL, while visiting hot/humid Central Florida, which I'm convinced is where heat/humidity goes in the Summer to get away from it all... The oppressive heat & humidity there is literally everywhere you go. :-(

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.

Sweden

Outside the Swedish Embassy, Georgetown Harbour, Washington, D.C., USA #Stockholm ❤

First official look at our Lara Croft #tombraider #tombraidermovie

A post shared by Roar Uthaug (@roaruthaug) on

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.
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