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.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Important questions are NOT being asked in South Florida: With President Obama coming to South Florida today re his immigration/amnesty plan, when was last time you heard an honest public discussion in South Florida about African-American unemployment rates in Miami? I think Obama's amnesty plan makes that worse. Much worse!

Important questions are NOT being asked in South Florida: With President Obama coming to South Florida today re his immigration/amnesty plan, when was last time you heard an honest public discussion in South Florida about African-American unemployment rates in Miami? I think Obama's amnesty plan makes that long-term problem worse. Much worse!






















The news that President Obama was coming into South Florida today got me to wondering and musing over the weekend, and not surprisngly, some of this sentiment clearly echoes things I've asked and answered in this very space many times over the past 8 years.

Simply put, have any of you attended a public meeting anywhere in South Florida in the last two years where, either together or individually, Representatives Lois Frankel, Debbie Wasserman 
Schultz or Frederica Wilson have spoken about immigration issues and attempted to make the case that President Obama's immigration plan for amnesty for up to 5 Million people would NOT 
negatively hurt long-term unemployed workers in South Florida, esp. African-Americans?
Or seen a similar public discussion in your area? 
Why do you suppose that is?
And why fdo you suppose that the local news media ignores that obvious question, just as supposed South Florida-based public policy groups do as well?

When I was a kid growing-up as a news and politics junkie in 1970's South Florida, on the day that unemployment 
rates came out of the Dept. of Labor Statistics in Washington -i.e. the BLS- I seem to recall that it was usually the case that then-WTVJ anchor Ralph Renick -when he was the dominant media voice in all of South Florida- would make a point of mentioning not only the national and state numbers, but the ones for Dade and Broward, too, along with the local unemployment rate for Blacks.
And those numbers would usually appear on screen, along with a very simple graph that would be embarrassing to put up these days.

The idea being that accuracy mattered, of course, but also that it's important to have 
useful context and nuance to draw upon before making any reasonable conclusions about what was happening with unemployment and the economy.

That seems like such a simple thing, but before I left the area last June for an extended 
period of time, I can't think of the last time I actually heard the long-term unemployment levels for African-Americans in Miami getting either mentioned in print or on TV or brought into the larger discussion about their relative economic standing only getting worse if that action took place.

Especially since I think it's fair to say that based on my living in South Florida again for 
the past 11 years, there are many less Black adults or children in South Florida who can speak even passable Spanish, compared to when I was a kid growing-up taking Spanish for 6 years and French for 4.

Those Latin American entrepreneurs coming to Miami that seemingly everyone in South Florida's incurious media horde likes to make a fuss over in often over-the-top sycophancy, with some TV stations being especially egregious about making no pretense of being anything but Chamber of Commece cheerleaders, are NOT going to be hiring people who are NOT bilingual, except for low wage jobs.

So what group is that going to be in Miami-Dade County?
Precisely, but instead, everyone just pretends they don't know what the logical result of this will be.
#Despair

I guess we'll all have to just wait until after the next riot and have yet more foreign and out-of-state reporters fly into the area to comment again on the self-evident short-term attention span of reporters that is actually much worse than South Florida residents as a whole.
Which is why those out-of-towners will again be speaking about South Florida reporters continuing to ignore the legitimate concerns of Black Miami, preferring to do ponintless stories about breast surgery, food fads and fashion and crime lowlights among visiting celebs and rappers on South Beach.

But then isn't that lack of energy and foresight the same reason why local news media don't exert any energy at all in pressing local South Florida Congressional representatives on policies that are harmful to such a large share of the populace?
Their own constituents!

Recently, Rasmussen Reports released a national poll on the Obama Amnesty plan.
Guess what it said

Voters Weigh Costs of Obama's Amnesty Plan
Voters still view President Obama's order exempting up to five million illegal immigrants from deportation as illegal and tend to think Congress should try to stop it. But they're evenly divided over whether a partial shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security is the way to do it.
http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/general_politics/february_2015/voters_weigh_costs_of_obama_s_amnesty_plan

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

#RedLightCameras - Looks like City of Hollywood and Comm. Dick Blattner are going to go down swinging when it comes to their policies re red-light cameras, despite lack of evidence RLCs are making community any safer. Surprise! Just more of what we have come to expect from Comm. Blattner over the past few years, where he's been the voice of Conventional Wisdom, preserving the status quo, and constantly supporting the largest role possible for local government

#RedLightCameras - Looks like City of Hollywood and Comm. Dick Blattner are going to go down swinging when it comes to keeping their self-serving policies re their money-making red-light cameras, despite lack of evidence they are making it any safer. Surprise!
More of what we have come to expect from Comm. Blattner over the past few years, where he's been the voice of Conventional Wisdom and preserving the status quo, and constantly supporting the largest role possible for local government

My comments below on the subject of red-light cameras in South Florida are largely similar to an email I circulated last week to about 125 concerned people from South Florida up to Tallahassee and points in-between.
The article and column below are but the latest news regarding a contentious subject that I've been quite fair in reporting and blogging about over the past eight years, despite how grossly unfair RLC supporters in government have been with South Florida communities, including keeping police info about location and frequency of traffic accidents out of the hands of citizens who directly challenge their contention that it's been a "SAFETY" measure, not a money-making one.
Well, we've all seen for ourselves over the years how untrue that was when push comes to shove.

South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Hollywood keeping red-light cameras until court orders them removed
By Susannah Bryan Sun Sentinel
February 12, 2015 2:02 PM

Officials here might have to pull the plug on their red-light camera program as soon as next week.
But not if City Hall gets its way. 

Less than two weeks ago, the 4th District Court of Appeal in West Palm Beach declined to rehear an October ruling that found Hollywood could not delegate ticket-writing duties to third-party vendor American Traffic Solutions. 
The ruling applies not only to Hollywood, but statewide

Read the rest of the article at:

South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Michael Mayo, Columnist: Red-light cameras could prove costly for cities
February 15, 2015

The epitaph of red-light cameras might read: Enforced the law by breaking the law.

At least that's how the 4th District Court of Appeal in West Palm Beach sees the controversial program, ruling that some South Florida cities have illegally delegated their police authority to a private vendor in Arizona.

Hollywood was the first to get rapped on the knuckles last fall. Earlier this month, it was Davie's turn. The 4th DCA also rejected Hollywood's bid to have a rehearing.

As a result, all cities with red-light camera programs now find themselves on shaky legal and financial ground. 









Above is yet the latest instance where when push comes to shove, Hollywood Comm. Richard "Dick" Blattner shows that his primary concern continues NOT to be for Hollywood residents and Small Business owners, but the $$$ that red-light cameras generate.
This, even though we all know there are many places in Hollywood where accidents happen with some regularity where red-light cameras have never been located.

Why?
Because they want VOLUME. 

Just like the case in Hallandale Beach I have been describing here on the blog for so many years, wherein Mayor Joy Cooper and a succession of City Managers and commissioners wanted in Hallandale Beach, even when experienced consultants reporters showed they were not helping safety in HB.

If you never saw them the first time -before they were erased from the Channel 10 website- I can tell you that there were some very interesting and telling comments on Bob Norman's 2012 blog re red-light cameras worth checking-out, including some by my friends and fellow civic activists Csaba "Chuck" Kulin and Charlotte Greenbarg, as well as Sun-Sentinel columnist Michael Mayo re Hallandale Beach Mayor Joy Cooper's credibility.
Or, rather the lack of her credibility.

Studies: Red light cameras causing more accidents

(Why has HBPD employed speed traps near Bluesten Park for years on a road with little traffic, while ignoring north-bound speeders on US-1, esp. after they get the green light at the southern entrance/exit at Gulfstream Park, near the Aventura cityline? 
Why is the reality in our city that it's Aventura cops who are more likely be seen issuing speeding tickets in HB on US-1 in HB than HB's own cops? 
Even in front of the HB Police Dept. HQ on US-1!
Sad but true!)

For many years, like many of you, I gave Comm. Blattner the benefit of the doubt on issues, but in retrospect, when you actually look at what has taken place since he came back to City Hall and the Commission a second time, he has never really shown the sort of leadership on issues that his experience would lead you to expect, even if you disagree with him.

He is always the voice of Conventional Wisdom and preserving the status quo, constantly supporting the biggest role possible for local government, where Broward's cities routinely take advantage of its residents and their wallets with preciosu little outcry from local TV stations and news papers unless the info is spoon-fed to them.
But Blattner can STILL never admit when he's wrong on the facts or admit that he's underperformed in some capacity.

His time as head of the Broward MPO, to say nothing of the FLL airport exit ramp controversy that has so angered so many people in the area -which he STILL can't explain with a straight face -has been a giant wasted opportunity for south Broward residents and businesses.
But he thinks he's doing great.

I'll soon be reminding him on the blog how far off the mark he's been, and doing so with telling photographs that tell the lamentable tale.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Connecting-the-dots on some South Florida transportation outrages re Tri-Rail; airline passengers being the low man in the airport totem pole at Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport under Kent George; ethics of Delaware North's no-bid contract; Uber and Lyft fight for customer choice; fact-based sarcasm and then some about taxpayers and customers always coming up last when it involves transportation policy

Connecting-the-dots on some South Florida transportation outrages re Tri-Rail; airline passengers being the low man in the airport totem pole at Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport under Kent George; ethics of Delaware North's no-bid contract; Uber and Lyft fight for customer choice; fact-based sarcasm and then some about taxpayers and customers always coming up last when it involves transportation policy








Speaking of South Florida transportation slowpokes, here are some quick appetizers:
SFRTA, i.e. Tri-Rail, finally got a YouTube Channel last week. 
Only took until February of 2015...

After finally getting on Twitter Jan. 27th! @Tri_Rail https://twitter.com/Tri_Rail

So why did it take them so long and why would they not have the word TriRail in their URL? That's what I'm wondering.

There's a YouTube Channel that's actually called SFRTA -because there wasn't one already!- and which uses one of SFRTA's photos called https://www.youtube.com/user/SFRTA which is run by someone interested in "model railroading and railfanning"

And so it goes in South Florida transportation circles.
Round-and-round instead of progress.
Can't wait until Tri-Rail hears about "quadraphonic" stereo...

(Warning: More fact-based sarcasm after the article)

South Florida Sun Sentinel
Uber doesn't like the rules? Tough
Gary Stein
February 1, 2015

Sorry, but I am not a card-carrying member of the trendy Uber Fan Club.

The arrogant yuppie, technology-based alternative to cabs is facing fines and being told to stop operating in Broward and Palm Beach counties -- and a lot of other places -- mainly because Uber has this idea about rules.

It doesn't like them.
Read the rest of the column at:

Do you mean the cellphone waiting lot at FLL that for years has had such poorly-designed directional signs that both longtime Broward residents and visitors who use it infrequently, constantly missed it, and had to drive round-and-round the airport?
THAT airport waiting area?






Well, as 
IF we needed more proof of how disconnected from reality the obtuse Sun-Sentinel and its Opinion page & Editorial Board members are... say hello again to Gary Stein, the same genius who's been directly involved for years in some of the Sun-Sentinel's most eye-rolling municipal election endorsements over the years that have left people scratching their heads.

Ones where Sun-Sentinel endorsements actually didn't use a candidate's demonstarted unethical behavior against them because as we've seen thru the years, the paper prefers identity politics to a competition of articulated public policy ideas.

Yes, the same Sun-Sentinel writing talent whose track record in the case of Hallandale Beach a few years back proved how little preparation they actually did before their Editorial Board's candidates interviews, given how little HE knew about ANYTHING, whether about the individual candidates or the specific issues affecting HB voters or...

Stein did so little preperation, in fact, that neither he or the other assembled geniuses there knew what most of us did: that HB citizens were being prevented from voting for three (3) City Commission candidates for the -yes- 3 available seats that November, thanks to the shenanigans of Mayor Cooper and her Rubber Stamp Crew, who wanted to insure a back-door route that would allow Comm. Anthony Sanders to get in by hook-or-by-crook and continue his years of misadventures in policy-making and ethics.

(Despite NOT being one of the two candidates who received the most votes, because of the way the the rules were written, Comm. Sanders got to stay on the dais, with predictably lamentable results since then for HB taxpayers and Small Business owners with common sense.)

I wrote about this back on October 17, 2012:

Absolutely pummeled! Hallandale Beach Comm. Anthony A. Sanders & ex-Comm. Bill Julian both bomb at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel's Editorial Board meeting for HB candidates Monday morning, while Csaba Kulin, Michele Lazarow and Gerald Dean shine while enthusiastically making the case for a pro-reform City Hall that actually serves taxpayers to replace the corrupt and unethical one we've been stuck with for years under Joy Cooper and her Rubber Stamp Crew; Kulin, Lazarow & Dean recount in detail most of the major issues and recent scandals; @SandersHB, @AlexLewy

http://hallandalebeachblog.blogspot.com/2012/10/absolutely-pummeled-hallandale-beach.html

and then later on October 30, 2012:
Their lack of Journalism ethics is hiding in plain sight: In their head-scratching endorsement of do-nothing Hallandale Beach Comm. Anthony A. Sanders over civic activist Csaba Kulin, the Tribune Co's Sun-Sentinel said he has "experience." Yes, but it's of the completely ineffective and unethical variety we don't want more of!; Vote Kulin!; @SandersHB
http://hallandalebeachblog.blogspot.com/2012/10/their-lack-of-journalism-ethics-is.html

As to the matter of the local taxi industry as it is managed by Broward County and its current notions of customer service, consider the curious case of my good friend and fellow HB civic activist Csaba "Chuck" Kulin.
Csaba is someone who is both well-known and trusted by so many of you because of his MANY 
years of hard work and dedicated civic service to the larger community, often a voice for reason and clarity against great odds.
And unlike many people I know, he DOESN'T embellish!

On two separate occasions between Sept. of 2013 and last April, Csaba saw exactly how benevolent Broward taxi drivers are when push comes to shove, and told me about what happened to him each time within 24 hours.
Csaba twice had to take a taxi from FLL to his home in Hallandale Beach after arriving either too late or TOO EARLY for me to swing by the airport -about 15-20 minutes from where we live- and pick him up, as he has done before many times for me.

Thanks to the egregiously poor job FDOT had done at that point in redesigning US-1 to and from the airport, particularly with their U-turn from hell, each time, the taxi driver consistently tried -but failed - to take advantage of Csaba by trying to drive him to his home in Hallandale Beach on NE 14th Avenue via... I-595 and then 441/State Road 7.
Yes, that State Road 441.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with our part of South Florida know, that is more than a little bit west of the airport's entrance and exit off of U.S.-1 the street that runs thru the middle of Hallandale Beach, Hollywood and Aventura.
And FAR west of dear old HB, as you can see here, via a hypothetical trip from FLL to HB City Hall I've created to demonstrate- https://goo.gl/maps/nc6DU 
Taking the route the taxi driver wanted would have more than doubled the taxi fare Csaba was charged.

Yes, as if the taxi driver thought that the best way to show some South Florida hospitality to someone who was groggy from a late or early-arriving flight, was by trying to take advantage of him and his wallet.
But Csaba was hip to what the taxi driver was up to, and forced him to drive the route the taxi driver in each case clearly did NOT want to take -the straightest route!

But think about how many dozens and dozens of times that happens a week when neither you or I know the passenger involved who ARE taken advantage of by unscrupulous taxi drivers.
What do you suppose those visitors image of Broward and South Florida is after that?
Exactly!

Uber and Lyft -the sooner the better as far as I'm concerned.















































And then, it's time for the Broward County Commission to finally wake up to the 21st Century and create a long-overdue citizen Advisory Board for FLL Airport, so that the cozy and curious business and economic connections there that consistently seem to work AGAINST the best short-term and long-term interests of visitors and Broward taxpayers, are finally given the proper scrutiny they have long deserved.

You know, like renewing a longtime no-bid contract with a company with years and years of public complaints and few answers?

Broward Commission skips bids, awards 15-year airport food contract to Delaware North

As my friend and fellow Broward civic activist Charlotte Greenbarg writes in the comments above, this particular move -which the Miami Herald never mentioned when it mattered- in rewarding a company that had longstanding problems delivering a quality product on a consistent basis to consumers, only shows the sheer level of power that lobbyists exert in this county, to the continuing detriment of Broward's taxpayers. :-(

South Florida Sun-Sentinel
No-bid airport contract raises eyebrows
February 7, 2014

The Broward County Commission may have chosen the best company for a multi-year airport food-and-concessions contract, but it's hard to know for sure because it skipped the open-bid process, raising questions and doubt.

Local governments are supposed to put contracts out to bid to ensure the public gets the best deal. Sure, the process is a hassle. And sometimes it's easier to re-up with a long-term provider if you want needed upgrades now, but face a contract from yesteryear. 

To make change happen quickly, we're told, is part of why the commission recently approved a no-bid, half-a-billion-dollar contract with the company that provides concessions in two of four terminals at Fort-Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. 

But such an argument speaks to why government leaders should be wary of long-term, no-bid contracts. 

Read the rest of the Editorial at:

As if we'd forgotten this three years before:
South Florida Sun-sentinel
Broward overpaid almost $1 million to clean airport, audit says
By Brittany Wallman, Sun Sentinel
May 10, 2011

FORT LAUDERDALE — Broward visitors overpaid almost $1 million to clean the airport over the 2008-09 budget years, and the county still pays more than other Florida airport authorities for janitorial work, the county auditor says.

The new audit raises an alarm about a $63 million cleaning contract the county has with Sunshine Cleaning Systems Inc. Its 280 workers wash windows, clean toilets, vacuum carpets, and clean parking garages and sidewalks at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

Read the rest of the article at:

The way the whole Uber fight has taken place in Broward and environs the past few months makes clear to me and many others that by almost any reasonable standard, Broward County Aviation Dir. Kent George has a lot to explain to taxpayers, residents and business community.
Especially about the self-evident problems at/around & w/FLL that he seems inclined not to either answer or be held publicly accountable for.

It's time to change that dynamic and the best way is by the injection of MORE Sunshine and the creation of a citizen-led Advisory Board that has both no aviation or hospitality lobbyists or reps and zero Broward County bureaucrats acting as "minders" to prevent the public from looking around and kicking the tires.
"Tires" we all have collectively helped to buy thru years and years of user fees.


Dave 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Initial thoughts and some background info re news about sale of land/mixed-use development near Gulfstream Park Race Track & Casino, per Brian Bandell at South Florida Business Journal, @SFlaBizBandell; more Lauderdale Lakes CRA hijinks

Many of you longtime readers of the blog may recall 1000 E. Hallandale Blvd. as the former "Oasis" project, 
which lobbyist/legislator Steve Geller got approval from the HB City Commission for a number of years ago, despite the self-evident fact that common sense would dictate that there would need to be another east-west road south of there to support the steady flow of construction vehicles to and from the project for over a year without backing-up already-gridlocked Hallandale Beach Blvd.
Which would also allow the projects tenants and visitors to exit without all of it spilling onto F-rated Hallandale Beach Blvd.

That such a necessary road does NOT currently exist, of course, would seem to be highly problematic, but you know me, I'm old-fashioned that way.
Of course, IF the HB City Comm. had been using common sense at any point in the recent past, they would have NEVER allowed Gulfstream Park to even consider erecting their employee dorm -the one where the fence along the road is padlocked, an issue which the HBFD has been sleeping on for years! Surprise!- precisely where such a much-needed access road would go that would greatly reduce traffic on HBB by connecting Hibiscus Street on U.S.-1 to the area behind the Publix on NE 14th Avenue and the nearby Golden Isles community.

Most of you have seen my photographs and graphics showing precisely how this should have been done.
Here's a small reminder!

You remember Hibiscus Street at U.S.-1 don't you? 
The street where the sign of the bad marketing and neglect by Gulfstream Park hits you right in the face?

Me back on March 2, 2011 
Their own worst enemy: Big problems lie ahead for Gulfstream Park if they continue keeping HB community in the dark, esp. re night racing
Me in 2011: 

It would be different if Gulfstream had/has little land to build upon, but the reality is that there were several perfectly acceptable locations on their HB property where the dorm going up would NOT have interfered with the HB community's long-term interests being served -less traffic on HBB.
Another wasted opportunity in HB to do the smart thing!

Here's a link to that signed 2010 Development Agreement

By the way, speaking of CRAs wasting money, time and opportunities... here's our friend Chaz Stevens with some galling news that is a perfect snapshot of Southb Florida government in action:
The Lauderdale Lakes CRA is millions in debt, hasn’t launched a major project in years (but they have a nice community tomato garden and pays the CRA Director $150K a year to do just that)
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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.

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.