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.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

South Florida has once again redefined the meaning of "Free Ride." But shouldn't we all realize by now that when it comes to #TransportationPolicy in #SoFL, there's no such thing as a free ride? But #Miami pols, @Tri_Rail & @AllAboardFla can't help themslves when it comes to taking taxpayer dollars and taking credit for something BEFORE the facts are ALL in

South Florida, and NOT to its credit, has once again redefined the meaning of "Free Ride." But shouldn't we all realize by now -after so DOZENS of fatally-flawed transit decisions and an equal number of poorly-executed plans- that when it comes to #Transportation Policy in #SoFL, there's no such thing as a free ride? 
But #Miami pols, @Tri_Rail & @AllAboardFla can't help themslves when it comes to taking taxpayer dollars and taking credit for something BEFORE the facts are ALL in

Below is a slightly-expanded version of an email that I sent out early last night, after reading the article and tweets below, to just under 200 concerned citizens, pols and news media reps in the Sunshine State, and to transportation reporters and columnists across the U.S.A.
I was not able to send all the tweets to them, so... include them here

Miami Herald
Tri-Rail would offer free rides to Overtown district residents in station deal

Douglas Hanks, Miami Herald
March 24, 2005

Tri-Rail would offer free passes to large numbers of Overtown residents in exchange for public funding of a new Miami station, part of a deal aimed at piecing together $69 million in tax dollars to bring the commuter line to a privately funded train depot downtown.

The largely state-funded Tri-Rail would offer free passes to residents inside Miami's Overtown/Park West taxing district in exchange for extracting about $30 million from the entity for construction of a Tri-Rail platform in All Aboard Florida's rail complex that's about to begin construction in downtown Miami.

Read the rest of the article at:

Miami Today
Tourist taxes add-on a creative way to finance vital transit  
Written by Michael Lewis on March 25, 2015

If Miami-Dade commissioners succeed in a creative drive to increase two of our three tourism taxes by one percentage point each, they can amass more than $60 million a year to build mass transit.
Anyone who tries to get around this county knows how vital this is, because bonding this guaranteed revenue could provide several billion dollars to start building transit immediately.
Read the rest of the column at:

A few things worth knowing while you digest the facts and anecdotes above and try to make sense of it all:

In case you forgot -or never knew- the person who led the effort to change the City of Miami's former CRA district and create a new CRA district -done as part of the City of Miami and Miami-Dade County's foolish efforts to build a new taxpayer-built baseball stadium for the Florida Marlins- is none other than Marc Sarnoff.

Yes, the outgoing City of Miami commissioner at the center of this story, now a paid CRA Director, and, oh yeah, someone trying desperately to elect his wife as his successor on the Miami City
Commission. Really.
Hastag: #Context

Now perhaps those of you who doubted me last year when I -alone in South Florida- publicly asked why the one-and-only public All Aboard Florida public scoping meeting scheduled in Miami-Dade County last year was taking place in a crime-ridden area that future users of the train between Miami and Orlando would never willingly visit without an ample display of security.

In case you forgot, this one-and-only AAF public scoping meeting in M-D was scheduled to be held at night, during the week, at a place where, IF you entered its address on Google Maps like I did and looke at it via Street View, what you saw was the side of a liquor store with debris everywhere.
Again, REALLY.

As opposed to, well, having it at a centralized location in the county with plenty of parking spaces outside and plenty of air conditioned seats inside on a hot day that would ACTUALLY draw future paid train passengers for rides to Orlando?
Afterall, AAF is trying to cast as large a net as possible for passengers, aren't they?

Trust me, for their business plan to be successful, their core audience can not consist of just poor people and people who lack a car to make the drive up to Orlando.
But look how clumsily and amateurish it was handled when they had lots of time to decide what they were going to do?
That's called portent, my friends...

Yes, but then THAT is precisely the kind of planning we've come to expect from the same AAF folks who've always got their hands out for more for the public purse, forgetting that many of us still recall how much they bragged and patted themselves on the back early on for how much theirs was a "private" enterprise.

The same people who did NOT even plan on hosting a public scoping meeting anywhere in Broward County for its taxpayers and consumers last year until I embarrassed, shamed and publicly flogged them, via several high-profile emails and blog posts that were cc'd to the South Florida, Orlando and Tampa Bay area  news media, and a handful of people with power and influence in Tallahassee with
an interest in logic intersecting with reason at least, well, OCCASIONALLY in public policy

Me, via the blog last May, which generated more than a few not-so-happy phone calls and emails to people who thought they'd pulled a fast one:

More Transit Policy Woes in South Florida: With stealthy and self-sabotaging friends like All Aboard Florida and SFRTA/Tri-Rail, pro-transit advocates in South Florida don't need any more enemies; 'All Aboard Florida' fails to schedule a single public scoping meeting in Broward County this Spring despite Fort Lauderdale being a proposed station, while SFRTA chief refuses to answer a simple question -Will Hallandale Beach have a station under the proposed Coastal line plan?; Just because you're pro-transit doesn't mean you have to ignore displays of transit incompetency or mismanagement when you see it!

After I publicly outed AAF's ill-conceived plan to ignore the very Broward public -and its future customers- who'd no doubt be asked to pay in some manner or form towards a new public train station and assorted infrastructure in Fort Lauderdale, they wised-up and decided to throw one together in Fort Lauderdale.
Wow, talk about disrespecting their own core consumer audience!
WHO would intentionally do THAT???

Not that the people at AAF and the assorted City of Fort Lauderdale and Broward County geniuses have yet to figure out how they'll keep Fort Lauderdale's sizable homeless population from camping en masse in and near any new public train station.
That, of course, is proposed for but a few blocks from Broward County's present central bus depot, off Broward Blvd.

You know, right in the middle of the area where, as has been reported upon for MANY years, homeless people drink (and often defecate) everywhere, as is entirely self-evident to anyone paying attention.
With the City of Fort Lauderdale City Hall but a stone's throw away!
But they just ignore it.

Unfortunately, because like so many levels of government in South Florida, with rare exceptions -like open-minded Coral Gables City Manager Cathy Swanson-Rivenbark, whom I knew and trusted implicitly from her years of being an Assistant City Manager and City Manager in Hollywood, who consistently talked-the-talk and walked-the-walk on transparency and public input on public policy- they're always thinking that a PR-driven strategy will inevitably trump a logical and well-planned public policy and goal that actually requires genuine public input.

But what they almost always fail to appreciate is that the public buying-in, if the plan is smart and sound, esp. financially, almost always results in genuine public success achieved SOONER, not just the mere illusion of it.

That same unfortunate attitude I think also explains why so many public places in Florida in general and South Florida in particular seem so resolutely mediocre, second-rate and ill-conceived.

Is that what we really want with train/commuter stations that ought to have been built 40 years ago, when I was a kid growing up in North Miami Beach, which perhaps could have kept South Florida from physically expanding beyond reason -and infrastructure- including building stadiums and arenas far from core supporters, when logic would have seen them built near well-planned train stations, which would have benefited everyone, including the team's bottom line?

As a longtime public transit advocate, in Chicago, D.C./Arlington County as well as in South Florida, I think not. 

But just because we see the important role of public planning and public transit doesn't mean we support breaking the public bank to do so, and pretend that car-centric South Florida is, overnight, going to become transit-friendly, and therefore can sign-off on gold-plating everything so that Marc Sarnoff can see his reflection on a plaque of names for years to come.
What are -and where are?- the benchmarks that AAF and Tri-Rail should have to reach in order to get the deal they want?

My experience is that simplicity and ease-of-use will count for more with the people who actually use a train station in the future, since that's what they will tell their friends, family and work colleagues,
and no amount of PR dollars can ever equal that.

The powers-that-be need to create train stations in Miami and Fort Lauderdale with the same mindset used to create the current international airport in Oslo, where so many first-time visitors feel exactly as I did in 2013: completely at-ease and not the least bit confused or overwhelmed.

Something I know about from using O'Hare so often for so many years in the 1980's while living in Chicago, Evanston and Wilmette.

You actually WANT to linger.
That surely counts for something, no?

Heia Norge!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The newest visual variation of "Stockholm i mitt hjärta" - Anton Chivkunov captures the beauty, vibrancy and dynamic buzz of the Stockholm I love in a compelling timelapse film that speaks for itself! Bravo!!! :-) #Sweden @visitstockholm

Anton Chivkunov YouTube Channel: Breath of Stockholm timelapse 2015 50 shades of Stockholm Uploaded March 16, 2015
Go to https://youtu.be/M7w6sejTllM to see a complete list of places shown in film.

Anton Chivkunov: You've captured the beauty, vibrancy and dynamic buzz of the Stockholm I love in a compelling way that speaks for itself! Bravo!!! :-)

The last time I first saw videos of Stockholm that made me feel this way were... 
back in 2011, with 

Allsång - Stockholm i mitt hjärta (Allsång på Skansen 2011)

Måns Zelmerlöw, Björn Skifs, Loa Falkman and Peter Jöback sing Stockholm i Mitt Hjärta (Stockholm in My heart) from the intro of a 2011 episode of SVT's Allsång på Skansen, Stockholm

and December 2012 of Gamla Stan..

RetardedVideos2013 YouTube Channel video: Crazy snowmobile ride in Stockholm (SWEDEN). Uploaded on December 6, 2012. http://youtu.be/j7sCpSFRKww 

Hammarbybacken. Stockholm.December 2012 from AnitaN on Vimeo.

Stockholm.December 2012 from AnitaN on Vimeo.
AnitaN's Vimeo video: Hammarbybacken. Stockholm. December 2012
I was especially psyched by this video because originally, when I thought I was going to be in Stockholm right before Christmas, I was going to be staying at the Park Inn Stockholm Hammarby Sjöstada nice then-two-year old Radisson property that's not-too-far from the slope seen in the video, located in nearby Hammarby. 
That's the beautiful Södermalm area of Stockholm in the background, and the pink-ish thing that looks like the moon is actually Globen, the Ericsson Globe arena, the world’s largest spherical building. 
Both videos first appeared on the blog in my January 7, 2013 post, written a day or so before I flew to Stockholm from Fort Lauderdale, via Newark and Oslo on SAS.

Then last year, 2014, there was Petra Marklund's first show as host of SVT's Allsång På Skansen

Allsång På Skansen with Petra Marklund - Intro, "Stockholm I Mitt Hjärta" & "Händerna Mot Himlen"

Friday, March 6, 2015

ICYMI: the DOUBLE Hallandale Beach connection on the recent story about fired Miami Gardens police chief arrested after a prostitution arrest; Surprise! It's City Manager Renee Miller and the Hallandale Beach CRA

In case you forgot about this -or never knew it- the former Miami Gardens deputy Police Chief Paul Miller referred to in the Miami Herald article below about the just-resigned Stephen Johnsonwho resigned amid allegations of harassment and illegal stop-and-frisk tactics at the 207 Quikstop, is the husband of current Hallandale Beach City Manager Renee (Crichton) Miller.

Renee Miller, whom you will recall like it was yesterday, is the very same woman who so famously and frequently lectured us over recent years at HB City Commission and CRA meetings that one of the reasons that SHE was so well-qualified to undermine the valid and scathing criticisms that you and I have so frequently made public with self-evident evidence about the longtime incompetent and unsatisfactory doings of the HB CRA and the equally-curious, perplexing (and unsatisfactory) 

policies and practices of HBPD that routinely wastes personnel and resources like there's no tomorrow, was because... SHE helped create and manage them in Miami Gardens before she was (so foolishly) hired here.

Of course, when a certain charming, well-informed and well-known female HB civic activist of our acquaintance decided to contact the City of Miami Gardens last year to inquire about this boast of Renee Miller's and put it to the test, the folks in Miami Gardens more than scratched their heads.
Let's just say that THEY didn't quite remember recent history the way our current City Manager tells it. 
Not at all. 

In case you missed the amazing recent This American Life segment on the Miami Gardens Police Dept. and the 207 Quickstop while Paul Miller was Deputy Chief, it's here.
You might want to sit down before you listen to it!

The second HB angle on the story is that Police Chief Johnson was the pastor at HB-based Bethel House of God Church at 516 NW 4th Avenue, a past recipient of HB CRA largesse.

You might better remember Bethel from this doc written by Marcum LLP, a January 2012 draft for the City of Hallandale Beach in the form of an Agreed-Upon Procedures Draft in response to the HBCRA's years of completely inadequate and invisible financial control over millions of HBCRA dollars by City Managers Mike Good and Mark Antonio and their two -and current- Assistant City Managers, Nydia Rafols and
Jennifer Frastai, former City Attorney David Jove, Mayor Joy Cooper and the four other members of the HB City Commission acting as the CRA Board, where nobody drawing a HB paycheck ever bothered to verify whether CRA funds were being spent properly or prudently, to say nothing of being spent as outlined in their own formal requests for funding.
Or, whether it had simply been used for pocket money. 

Which as we know from the Broward State's Attorney's Office, happened in the case of one of Mayor Cooper's most-vocal political supporters, Dr. Deborah Brownthe little minnow that was arrested per Inspector General: Hallandale Beach ‘grossly mismanaged’ millions in public funds
while no HB elected officials or bureaucrats were arrested or fired.

Or perhaps you know Bethel House better from this doc from 2012;

Yes, THAT Dr. Deborah Brown.

From last Spring:



Arrest Number: 801400840 Arrest Date: 05/19/2014 
Race: B Sex: F DOB: 10/09/1961 
Height: 504  Weight: 179 Hair: BRO Eyes: BRO 
Arresting Agency: MAIN JAIL 
* Location: Main Jail 
* Visitation: 2B View Schedule
* Expected Release Date:  

click to enlarge  


Charge Number:1
Case Number:14006686cf10a
Description:GRAND THEFT>$300<$5000
Charge Comment:NIC
Charge Status:PENDING TRIAL (Surety Bond is pending)
Bond Type:BD
Bond Amount:1,000.00
Projected Sent. End Date*:
* Subject to Change

The Deborah Brown the city gave its MLK Humanitarian of the Year award to, remember, even as I discovered on my own -long before the Broward IG- that she was routinely failing to file required non-profit financial documents for her group with the IRS.
Not that anyone at HB City Hall was checking that.

The very woman who annually leased property from the city/CRA in NW Hallandale Beach for years for peanuts -$10.
AFTER the city poured lots of taxpayer money into it.

Property that as you'll recall had previously belonged to Comm. Anthony Sanders and his wife, which was bought from them by the city for about $89,000 more than it was actually worth.
And when time came to vote on the purchase, not surprisingly, Comm. Sanders didn't
have the good sense to recuse himself on the vote, as HB's former City Attorney David 
Jove, the legal bump-on-the-log waiting to retire and collect his pension, simply let it all 
slide, as he had for so many years.

Trust me, the Local10 video with Glenna Milberg, as well as my own comments, speak volumes: 

The Hallandale Beach scandal that won't go away

Above,  501 N.W. 1st Avenue, which in Hallandale Beach polite society and public policy circles is considered THE most egregious example of dozens of exasperating and highly-questionable examples of dubious government spending and crony capitalism that've taken place on Mayor Joy Cooper's ten-year watch, and one of the most dubious of any in Broward County, which is REALLY saying something. 
It's the infamous former property owned by HB Comm. Anthony A. Sanders and his wife, Jessica, that has seen so many tens of thousands of Hallandale Beach taxpayer dollars and CRA dollars poured into it. 
For what, THIS?

A property which was bought by the city without ANY plan for its future use, and which is now rented to a non-profit for $10 a year, and which Sanders can still use for free? 
(Some of the above is from 2012 blog posts.) 
The same public property that Deborah Brown's brother, Josh, used for some very curious purposes, including, perhaps, at least temporarily for purposes of running for office.
But isn't using that a prohibited purpose on public property? 


The same public property controlled by Deborah Brown that had partisan campaign signs for Mayor Cooper, Comm. Sanders and Comm. Julian on it for WEEKS in 2012 prior to the November election?
Campaign signs on taxpayer property? Yes.

From my October 15, 2012 blog post titled, 'Ethics? Not for us! Follow-up to my post re Hallandale Beach's unethical "business as usual" attitude, with "special rules for special people" if they are named Joy Cooper, Bill Julian and Anthony A. Sanders; What ethics? What rules? @MayorCooper, @SandersHB"

Deborah Brown's attack on a Keith London for Mayor volunteer at a HB election site at Ingalls Park in SW HB on Election Day in 2012 precipitated HBPD being called in to bring order there.
And actually having to keep many police officers on hand to make sure that Brown and 
other Cooper for Mayor supporters didn't start physically attacking their opponents -again.

Or did you never read about that bit of news in the Herald and the Sun-Sentinel?
For obvious reasons, you also never saw that fact appear in the HB CRA-subsidized South Florida Sun-Times, HB City Hall's propaganda sheet.
HB citizens' reality in the current media age is as certain as death and taxes: being ignored ad infinitum and watching as far too many print and TV reporters accept pablum from HB City Hall as an explanation rather than concentrating on what is right in front of them and raining cold hard facts down upon officials and forcing them to account for what REALLY happens here.

But then the reality here is that two groups that ought to be looking out for HB citizens, the Broward IG office and the Broward States Attorney office are NOT fully doing their job with any sign of gusto, either, given how much entrenched incompetency and corruption has been going for years in this target-rich environment.

As it happens, since I was at Ingalls Park within minutes of HBPD being called, I took several photos of all the HBPD cops forced to stand around for hours and hours doing nothing but drinking Cokes and playing with their cell phones.
I never ran the photos on my blog because at a certain point, even after all these years, no matter how hard I try to stay vigilant, how do you (I) accurately describe the surreal dimensions of HB's everyday reality?

Trust me, people in the rest of Florida and around the country can't believe what we routinely are forced to bear and to accept as "normal" every day in Hallandale Beach.
Nobody is going to help us but ourselves.
More thoughts on that next week.

#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 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. �� In case you forgot what the Christ the Redeemer statue looks like, up close, here's 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