A common sense public policy overview from David in South Florida, offering a critical perspective on the current events, politics, govt./public policy, sports and pop culture of the U.S., #SoFL and Europe, esp. the #UK, #Sweden and #France, via my life in #Texas, #Memphis, #Miami, #IU, #Chicago, #WashingtonDC & #SoFL. In particular, #Broward & #MiamiDade County, and the cities of #HallandaleBeach, #HollywoodFL & #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 HB's North Beach and southern Hollywood 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.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Thoughts on the continuing Burnadette Norris-Weeks ethics problem in Broward County: Thru her actions, attitude and behavior, Broward SOE attorney Norris-Weeks has come to personify the worst unethical excesses of Broward County's pay-to-play culture and the insider's sense of entitlement that pro-reform pols and citizens have fought hard to eliminate.

Thoughts on the continuing Burnadette Norris-Weeks ethics problem in Broward County: Thru her actions, attitude and behavior, Broward SOE attorney Norris-Weeks has come to personify the worst unethical excesses of Broward County's pay-to-play culture and the insider's sense of entitlement that pro-reform pols and citizens have fought hard to eliminate.

Since last Spring when I took advantage of the Ultra Music Festival being downtown to also take some photos for the last time of what was then left of the partially-destroyed Miami Herald building from directly in front of One Herald Plaza -a building overlooking Biscayne Bay that I had been in dozens and dozens of times from the 1970's thru the mid-'90's when visiting The Miami News, but which by this time was also missing some of the letters from its iconic sign- I've been meaning to write something about what I have long sensed is the real lack of backbone and community engagement and push back among many of Broward County's current and in some case well-known civic groups and their leadership that, in the abstract, ought to be doing MUCH MORE publicly to lead the fight to make Broward's future better for everyone.
Not least, among those in civil society who actually follow the letter and spirit of the law, especially ethics laws meant to provide transparency to the public and inspire trust in institutions by them.

Push back by actually taking people to task by putting their feet to the fire and publicly embarrassing them or shaming them when their unchecked egos, ambition and sense of entitlement to go off the charts the way that Burnadette Norris-Weeks has clearly done the past few years, given that in the current environment, with our present collection of sleepwalking news reporters, she has absolutely no fear that the South Florida news media would ever hold a mirror or TV camera up to her, and show it to the public to inform them and educate them about her behind-the-scenes dealings.

As would happen in most though not all parts of the U.S. -or at least used to.

So, to better understand this vexing issue involving one Broward insider's ego and over-the-top sense of entitlement, I've posted this collection of information in reverse chron order, most recent at top.

I remind many of you, especially you newcomers to the blog, that for many months, I was often the only Broward citizen present at those early morning meetings of the Broward County Ethics Commission meetings at Broward County Govt HQ, which I dutifuly videotaped and took notes on to be entirely accurate, in-between sips of McDonald's coffee.

Week-after-week, month-after-month, I saw who was and who was NOT trying their best to fullfill the hopes of Broward's long-frustrated citizens on the issue of finally getting the much-needed, stronger ethical rules for Broward elected officials and employees and the people they interact with. I saw who was and who was NOT making the honest effort to change the unacceptable status quo that then-existed and markedly improving it in both letter and spirit.

So with that in mind, I can tell you that Burnadette Norris-Weeks was NOT a Profile in Courage 
then and she was NOT years later when serving on the appointed Broward County Charter Commission, where she had the rare opportunity to serve the long-term best interests of Broward citizens, businesses AND incorporate notions of Good Government Best Practices.

But instead of doing that, Norris-Weeks voted AGAINST Broward citizens like you and me from even being able to vote at the polls that November, and to decide the outcome of the issue of a countywide-elected mayor for Broward County, as the public would be able to do in 99% of America.

But NOT here in Broward County, and Burnadette Norris-Weeks was one of the small handful of people who voted AGAINST you and I even being able to vote for or against it, much less, voting and deciding it one way or the other.

A helpful reminder from me in 2009 of Burnadette Norris-Weeks' anti-democratic sensibility: 

And now we read that last week Norris-Weeks was appointed by ethically-challenged Broward County Comm. Dale Holness to the new incarnation of the Broward Charter Review group. 

What possibly justifies this woman's continual bad judment and curious sense of ethics and propriety from being represented over-and-over on important Broward panels in ways that are genuinely harmful to both Broward citizens and the larger business community?
Why should the public expect anything different from her this time but more of her anti-citizen actions that prevent genuine accountability and oversight, to say nothing of actual improvement in governance?

If you wonder why Broward County is still mired in the state of continual funk it's been in for years, and why no matter where in the county you go, the public (and the news media) consistently is bewildered at what they hear about what's REALLY going on, wonder why the public has so very little trust and respect for Broward's myriad govt. agencies and functions, it's because of the accurate perception that establishment insiders like Norris-Weeks have consistently used her position to give herself unfair, anti-competitive advantages over others.

And the public perception that Norris-Weeks, when on Broward govt. panels, uses that role to further special interests, NOT for the benefit of the majority of Broward taxpayers and Small Business owners, who are very much against crony capitalism and pay-to-play govt., is right in the records for everyone to see.
Once Broward gets around to making it public a year later...

So tell me, why haven't you or I seen a single story yet on Norris-Weeks' multiple episodes of curious behavior and bad judgment on Channel 4, 6, 7 or 10's newscasts? 

Or in the Miami Herald?

Good question.

But first things first...

Clearly, one of the few times that one of the most ardent opponents of ethical reform in Hallandale Beach, Andrew Markoff, was said to be correct.

Broward Elections Lawyer Owes Nearly $11,000 In Broward County Taxes 
Posted on January 29, 2015 by Red Broward

Commissioner: Ban elections office attorney from politics  

Broward Beat
Some Commissioners Fed Up With Elections Chief
By Buddy Nevins

It was Broward Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes’ turn in the barrel this week.

Snipes got grilled – her word for the 30-minute cross-examination was “bullied” – by Broward County Commissioner Mark Bogen on Tuesday.

Like a prosecutor questioning a murderer, Bogen started out something like this: “Would you agree the most important thing for any supervisor is to run efficient and impartial elections?”

It went downhill from there for Snipes.

Read the rest of the post at 

Broward Beat

By Michael J. Ryan

The following is an open e-mail Mayor Mike Ryan of Sunrise calling for a policy governing political activity by any Elections Office lawyer.
The background:  Commissioner Mark Bogen last week called for a clear policy governing Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes’ attorney. He did this after discovering that the office lawyer Burnadette Norris-Weeks had actively taken part in campaigns.

Read the rest of the column at:


Broward Beat
By Buddy Nevins

Burnadette Norris-Weeks — the beleagued Elections Office attorney who is embroiled in a fight over her politicking — obviously hasn’t heard the age-old expression: If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.
Norris-Weeks has lashed out at Sunrise Mayor Mike Ryan for daring to criticize her actions — campaigning for candidates at the same time she is supposed to be an impartial Broward Elections Office official.

Read the rest of the column at:

Other than the fully-engaged reaction from Sunrise's mayor, I'm unaware of anything by the people who ought to be The Usual Suspects.
Just silence from The Broward League of Women Voters, The Broward Workshop, The Broward Alliance CEO Council, or even the Good Government Initiative at the University of Miami, under former Miami-Dade County Comm. Katy Sorenson, who was long known as the most pro-reform supporter of strong and effective ethics on that ethically-challenged and corrupt group that seems to be on perpetual probation for crimes against taxpayers and common sense.

How much of this is because of business and political connections, large and small, and how much of this is because of race, and the fear of being taken apart publicly for simply saying the facts aloud while the local news media largely averts its eyes for whatever reason?
That latter point is something that Buddy Nevins references above in his June 5th account of Broward Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes appalling performance the past few years and the public criticism of her that has only grown MUCH LOUDER.

Up to a point.

And that point in my opinion is the same one that explains the silence now on Norris-Weeks.
Commissioners won’t say much of this publicly because of politics:Its politically incorrect to attack one of the few black office holders in Broward.Perhaps more important, Democrats – eight of the nine commissioners  — fear they would be alienating their base in the African American and Caribbean American community if they publicly condemn Snipes.
Another aspect of this whole matter that I have written about a lot in recent emails but not yet here on the blog concerns the selection by crony capitalism-loving Broward Comm. Dale Holness of Burnadette Norris-Weeks to the Broward Charter Review panel for the second time in a row: why does #SoFL have so many more unethical and incompetent political and government officials than other areas of the U.S. its size? Especially among African-Americans?

Is it the lack of a large enough pool of educated, Middle Management types who DON'T depend on the public payroll for their personal & professional advancement?

You don't have to be a political junkie or news junkie to realize that #SoFL and #Broward are lacking in the very type of people who in most parts of the country actually make up a good portion of the middle management of well-run companies that actually manufacture tangible consumer and industrial goods, instead of selling the hope of sand, surf and sun to visitors.

Also, how is it that in the year 2015, the Broward Workshop,with all the access to resources and media professionals they have, do NOT have a Twitter feed? 

Their charming and always-helpful Exec. Director, Kareen Boutros, is someone whom I like, after first meeting her at the previous edition of the Broward Charter Review meetings in 2008, but it's time for them to get into the 21st Century.

I'm grew up and was educated in South Florida in the 1970's, but still I continue to be #dumbfounded and #frustrated by what is tolerated and passes for "Normal" around here that would simply NOT be acceptable behavior and conduct in the rest of the U.S. then or now.

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