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, September 26, 2014

Some informed commentary, context and important facts that you didn't read about in Susannah Bryan's recent Sun-Sentinel article about Hollywood City Manager Cathy Swanson-Rivenbark and some of her critics re the 'million-dollar mistake.' Trust me, you'll thank me later!

Some informed commentary -and important facts- that you didn't read about in the Sun-Sentinel's story titled, "City seeks inquiry - Hollywood manager stands up to critics of 'million-dollar mistake,' says 'I'm not leaving'"
Trust me, you'll thank me later and have more context!
My comments are below the article.

South Florida Sun-Sentinel
City seeks inquiry - Hollywood manager stands up to critics of 'million-dollar mistake,' says 'I'm not leaving'
Susannah Bryan , Staff writer
September 19, 2014

Commissioners were split on whether to fire the city manager, butunanimously agreed to ask the Broward inspector general to investigateCity Hall's "million-dollar mistake."
In violation of city code, Hollywood administrators spent $935,000 on35 temp workers without commission approval over the past two years.The workers were assigned to the police and fire departments,utilities and general administration.
Commissioners rejected City Manager Cathy Swanson-Rivenbark's requestearlier this month to approve the spending retroactively.

Read the rest of the post at:


In case you faithful readers of the blog had forgotten, this Sun-Sentinel reporter, Susannah Bryan, is the latest of the many Sun-Sentinel reporters I've privately and publicly lambasted for years for their habit of consistently being too lazy and apathetic to mention even .01% of what they observed at Hallandale Beach City Hall. 
That is, WHEN they've deigned to actually show-up! 

To say nothing about all what they willfully ignored outside City Commission Chambers, which is hard to overstate and easy to pinpoint if you've been paying attention.  
Well, in any case, as this article makes clear, it's not like the percentage is much higher when Bryan is covering what goes on a few miles just north of us over at Hollywood City Hall.

In the article above, Bryan completely neglects to mention in print that the opinionated citizen she quotes on this matter, Jeff Brodeuris part of a small hardcore and very opinionated group of largely West Hollywood residents who are forever bitching about how bad they have it compared to other parts of the city.
Forever complaining about how badly Hollywood city employees have had it, and for reasons that are not always publicly stated, really can't stand all the attention (and CRA money spent) on the Hollywood Downtown area.

(First, I should state that I've been as critical as just about anyone re what the CRA was doing downtown years ago. And not just in emails but at public meetings where I said that  I was completely underwhelmed by the public outreach efforts regarding publicizing the public meetings of the new Master Plan for Downtown Hollywood developed by Bernard Zyscovich and his firm, particularly the efforts by the CRA and the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and the business community as a whole. It was pathetic.
I even told Cathy Swanson-Rivenbark of my misgivings and related to her in a one-on-one meeting how badly I thought this had been botched, when she was the Assistant City Manager.

I mentioned that many of the obvious public places around Young Circle like Publix, Starbuck's and the ArtsPark, places where large number of the neighborhood is everyday, never had a single flyer put up on a bulleting board or front window so that the average Hollywood citizen would know what was taking place in their own neighborhood.
She agreed and resolved to nopt let opportunities like that get watsed agin in the future.

Second, it's not like it was ever going to be easy to fix the decades of lazy thinking about retail vs. residential priorities, to say nothing of the myriad retail mismatches and logistical and aesthetics mistakes in that important area of SE Broward that are still evident.
But the difference between me and Brodeur is that I know from personal experience that that area should turn around economically almost overnight once there's a reliable Tri-Rail Costal train station built nearby that can whisk Hollywood residents points north and south with regularity for work and recreation. 
Yes, Young and Middle-Aged Professionals who don't think simply being able to listen to FM radio while stuck in traffic is that appealing a prospect compared to being able to relax on a train that gets them back and forth much quicker and with less stress -and also listening to the same stationvia whatever electronic device they prefer. )

Since that is in fact the case, it should come as no surprise that Brodeur is also a longtime opponent of not only the Hollywood CRA, both in the abstract as well the reality, but quite naturally, also a
longtime critic of Hollywood City Manger Cathy Swanson-Rivenbark.
Cathy is someone whom most of you already know I've been very publicly supportive of for many years, both in my personal emails and my posts on the blog.
I've personally been an eyewitness to her genuine smarts, savvy and moxie over the years in figuring out how best to improve a, not-incidentally, NOT-so-perfect Hollywood, and make it a better place for everyone, not just well-to-do people living on the beach or near downtown.
I've personally seen how she sweats the small details and has always strived for creating maximum public transparency and public interaction.
I only wish that she was the City Manager of Hallandale Beach -or even better, the County Administrator of Broward County.

Jeff Brodeur's background is something I know for a fact from past experience, mostly from keeping informed and going to hundreds of Hollywood city/civic meetings over the past 11 years.
In fact, I'd know about him even if I hadn't gone to those meetings, from my voluminous email archives of past newspaper and blog articles, which makes that point abundantly clear.

Oh, like say this one from last year, when the Balance Sheet Blog was still up and running:
He is, in my eyes, the very picture of the sort of person who gives civic activism a bad name.
I don't want to be lumped in with him.

So why doesn't the Sun-Sentinel's Hollywood beat reporter Susannah Bryan know this?
More to the point, WHY doesn't she disclose ANY of this important context to readers so they have more facts to judge what's really going on in ths matter?
Why don't you ask Bryan's bosses at the newspaper?

As it happens, Jeff Brodeur was also very supportive three years ago of state Sen. Eleanor Sobel's efforts to get a JLAC investigation of Hollywood in late 2011, when Sobel was doing the bidding of the Broward PBA, who had previously endorsed her and spent a LOT of time, money and resources in defeating Tim Ryan and Ken Gottlieb in that very nasty and expensive state Senate race in SE Broward. Though some would say infamous race.

Yes, the same Eleanor Sobel who in her role as Hallandale Beach Mayor Joy Cooper's bosom pal, has done everything and then some the past two years to prevent state legislators and investigators on the JLAC from investigating what her friend Joy Cooper had actually been doing for years as Chair of the HB CRA, directing where all the HB CRA millions went, with no practical or consistent oversight and accountability from anyone at City Hall -including her.
As the Broward IG's damning 2013 report made clear.

The same Broward PBA  who in 2012 endorsed Traci Callari, the current Hollywood Commissioner who attempted to fire the City Manager this week. 
In the process of pumping and funneling as much money as they could into Callari's 2012 campaign, in order to defeat then-Hollywood Comm. Heidi O'Sheehan, who had been part of the majority of the City Commission for common sense who supported the vote for a public vote on pension costs that were threatening to make the city's future untenable.

An election that the Broward PBA later lost pretty overwhelmingly, despite their deep pockets, media histrionics and dirty tricks.
In doing so, the Broward PBA violated Hollywood's campaign finance rules that had previously been overwhelmingly approved by Hollywood voters as part of a Charter amendment. Why?
(And why was the Broward PBA and the city's later lawsuit against it never ever discussed in print or TV by the South Florida news media?)

So back to the question of why?
So that the Broward PBA could get who they wanted elected, come hell of high water? 
Yes. Traci Callari, whose husband is a Hollywood Police Officer.
All you need is some larger perspective to see how all these things are inter-connected and see how the losers of one issue never quite forget, and are forver trying to get vengeance on the people who bested them however they can, regardless of what the issue is.
So, from this we have learned quite well that the Broward PBA is always spoiling for a fight with anyone brave enough to hold them to account, which is why they have had it in for Beam Furrr, since the former Hollywood City Commissioner -and current Democratic nomineee for Broward County Comm. District 6- was asking questions publicly many years ago about the Police and Fire Pension when others in the community were reluctant to speak up and take sides.

So perhaps the real question for all of us in Hallandale Beach and Hollywood who are civic-minded and in favor of a thorough discussion of the issues this year is this one: Why, after all these years, is
the Sun-Sentinel's very own beat reporter for Hollywood and Hallandale Beach so consistently unable or unwilling to see what I and so many of you can see quite easily?
Good question. 
Why don't you ask Susannah Bryan's bosses at the newspaper?

That mediocrity in effort and results by the Sun-Sentinel is why I and so many of you reading this know in advance why the coming Sun-Sentinel coverage of the Hallandale Beach City Commission races will be so very feeble and pathetic.
Why despite having 45 days, anything they do will appear just days before the election, instead of early enough so that they can be fair, probing and thorough -and actually useful to HB residents.

And we know from painful experiences in the past that this half-assed approach and effort by the Sun-Sentinel only helps the very people who are already in office ruining this city with their consistently sinister/myopic judgment and seemingly neverending unethical behavior, both the electeds and the well-paid bureaucrats who never get held to account for their serial misdeeds and lies to the public at large.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Looks like Broward County is finally serious about recouping the millions in CRA funds that cities like Hallandale Beach have mishandled and squandered via incompetency and crony capitalism. Couldn't be clearer that HB City Manager Renee C. Miller still wants to keep stonewalling taxpayers!

Looks like Broward County is finally serious about recouping the millions in CRA funds that cities like Hallandale Beach have mishandled and squandered via incompetency and crony capitalism. Couldn't be clearer that HB City Manager Renee C. Miller still wants to keep stonewalling taxpayers!

A slightly-expanded version of an email that I sent out Wednesday afternoon to my In-Crowd
of concerned residents and taxpayers in Hallandale Beach and throughout Broward County as well as concerned civic activists around the Sunshine State, along with cc's to people in our state capital of Tallahassee whom I've communicated with in the past year, ostensibly, because they more than most people in the legistlature have a strong interest in this matter of CRAs, and Florida cities continually using them for purposes for which the enabling legislation was NOT intended, as my many previous blog posts on this subject and audits have made crystal clear.

Among the lucky recipients this time were: Florida CFO Jeff Atwater, outgoing FL Senate President  Don Gaetz, powerful FL state Sen. Jack  Latvala, and FL state Rep. Lake Ray, who is Chair of the Joint Legislative Auditing Committee.
More soon on the blog on the subject of the scandal-plagued Hallandale Beach CRA, along with the EXCESS MILLIONS of tax dollars that have been and will be paid to a small number of the City of Hallandale Beach's highest-paid employees in pensions -including the past 3 City Managers: Mark A, Antonio, Mike Good & R.J. Intindola- which current City Manager Renee Miller still can't explain with a straight face.

Yes, more than TWO YEARS after Miller personally promised community activist Csaba Kulin in-person that she would give him the docs he sought from the city via Public Records Request provisions of Florida's Sunshine Laws, after the city had refused to fully comply with the law, just like the CRA funds issue, City Manager Miller can't and won't tell the truth and has refused to turn the germane public documents over.

Documents that would show who at HB City Hall made the decision on who would and would not be in the managament pension plan, and who decided that they'd be paid at a much-higher rate than they were scheduled to receive.
Or as it was then-described in the Broward Bulldog, "authorize the granting of retroactive retirement credit."

Hallandale’s ex-top managers collect fat pensions from retirement plan they pushed a decade ago

Altered rules let ex-Hallandale city manager’s son-in-law join lucrative pension plan

The city even had the audacity to claim to Csaba that it didn't even know who was a part of the pension plan! Really.

But then this is the same city that in 2011 had its CRA purchase land for use as a park at a price that was higher than it was really worth, but then this year, we were told repeatedly by Miller that having CRA funds used to fix/modernize the city's very poorly-maintained parks within the CRA district was NOT a good thing, and that citizens needed to vote in November for a Parks Bond issue instead.
This despite the fact that the HB City Commission has written the question so that any funds approved by voters in November could, in fact, be used for whatever purpose the City Commission wanted.

Which is to say, NOT used exclusively for Parks, as I have long argued was necessary in order to give HB taxpayers some degree of confidence that a yes vote would indeed be for what citizens at the ballot box intended. 
In essence, HB City Hall wants the Bond issue approved so they can create a new slush fund for themselves to continue their years of arrogant crony capitalism.

And, of course, as I've have commented upon many times over the 18 months since it was released, it speaks volumes about her lack of transparancy and accountability that Renee Miller still refuses to place the Broward IG's damning report of the city accusing it of "gross mismanagement" on the city's website -or even post the city's own response.
Yes, the "response" that HB taxpayers and the CRA had to pay for that was nothing but complete whitewash of responsibility.


#HallandaleBeach still lying abt. its (invisible) oversight/accountability of $12.6M in CRA funds it mishandled :-( http://www.browardbulldog.org/2014/09/broward-to-seek-return-of-cra-tax-dollars-mishandled-by-cities-millions-at-stake/ 
2:26 PM - 10 Sep 2014 · Details

Broward Bulldog
Broward to seek return of CRA tax dollars mishandled by cities; Millions at stake
By William Gjebre, BrowardBulldog.org 
September 4, 2014 AT 6:35 AM
Broward will seek the return of county property tax dollars from city community redevelopment agencies that hoarded that money instead of spending it on projects to fight slum and blight that are ready to get underway, according to County Administrator Bertha Henry.
The county’s toughened stand follows recent findings by Broward’s Inspector General that Margate deliberately mishandled $2.7 million in CRA funds. It also comes amid fresh criticism about the way Hallandale Beach allegedly handled its community redevelopment funds.
Read the rest of the article at:

Monday, September 1, 2014

As usual, Anne Applebaum is 100% correct: If war is coming to Europe, shouldn't we prepare? Meanwhile, Strobe Talbott & Kateryna Kruk notice the very same ominous signs that I do; You ought to start following them today: @anneapplebaum, @strobetalbott, @Kateryna_Kruk

#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.

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