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, August 12, 2015

Wither #Broward's #tourism and reputation among the smart set among U.S. & foreign travelers? Or will #CommonSense get a second chance in Broward?

Wither #Broward's #tourism and reputation among the smart set among U.S. & foreign travelers? Or will #CommonSense get a second chance in Broward?

My email to some of the members of the Broward County Commission on Monday, in advance of their meeting Tuesday about transportation options for broward residents and tourists, including ride sharing apps like @Uber and @lyft.

I'll have some thoughts and some analysis of the decision made Tuesday here on the blog by Friday afternoon.

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August 10th, 2015

Dear Commissioners:

I'll admit it - I really wanted to comment earlier.
But I've tried my best to show some patience over the past few weeks before sending this email to you, since I wanted to wait a bit after the July 31 operational deadline came and went for @Uber & @lyft in Broward County.  

In anticipation of the Broward County Commission discussing/revisiting the ride-sharing ordinance on Tuesday, here's my thoughts re Uber & Lyft -and what I see as the continuing anti-consumer/anti-public transit situation at FLL- which I've been writing off-and-on for weeks.

Frankly, unless the current status quo changes, it'll be quite interesting to see and hear what visitors to Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport tell TV reporters in the future when they're asked at the airport, while waiting near the baggage claim area, what they think about the fact that Broward County, the Sunshine State's second-largest county, has decided to forbid the use of popular transportation sharing apps within its borders. 
Bet I can predict what those visitors say to the reporters. 

As best I can determine, I've read every single newspaper article & column, tweet, blog post and aired TV segment about the matter, good and bad, that's been filed from somewhere in Broward County and environs, no matter how obtuse, incoherent or fact-challenged -or simply argumentative for the sake of being argumentative!
At this point, I'm pretty certain I know from all of this what people on and off the dais and in the community have said, claimed, denied, or otherwise thrown into the water to try to muddy things up for whatever reason.

I'm pleased to be hearing of late that some of your colleagues have, for whatever reason, come to see that their initial approach was perhaps less-than-satisfactory for a large number of Broward residents
than they originally thought. 
Especially for the many people in Broward who work unusual hours or who often need to get to places not located near any sort of reasonable public transit.

Trust me, my friends and former colleagues located overseas all know 
about what's taken place here over the past few months. They're very sharp and well-informed people to begin with, and most had already heard about the ridiculous news before I first thought to mention it to them the past few weeks. Still, they're shocked.

I'd like to think they had a much-better grasp of the facts and the real 
subtext and nuance after I sent them -and any journalists they knew in their own city- some helpful links to the myriad print and TV stories about the issue here, where, given a chance to do the smart and pragmatic thing, a majority of the Broward County Commission thought that firmly embracing the past with a passion was more important than admitting that the future everyone's been talking about was... already here. 
And wisely embracing that instead!

Because surely, given a choice, the Broward County Commission would 
recognize that it was time to admit that no amount of their pretending or wishful thinking were going to change that basic fact. 
But look what happened when given a choice.
The Broward County Commission chose poorly.
And NOT wisely.

Now that so many helpful innovations have been brought to the market by the sharing apps, it's hard for me to see that the public is willing to accept simply going forward WITHOUT them

It's hard not to reflect on this and also not observe how perverse it is that 
for so many years, the Broward County Commission has delighted in patting itself on the back for choosing an approach that the majority declared was "forward-thinking" when it came to some social issue.
This, even when a majority of Broward's population might NOT have necessarily been in favor of that change of approach in policy, or even thought it logical.

Yet, as the Commission has now proven again, it's equally happy to pat itself on the back for doing the opposite, and opposing a pragmatic and forward-thinking approach when it comes to economic and entrepreneurial issues that ARE strongly supported by the majority of the general public.
That's what you call a #disconnect.

Oh, and that glorious past?
A past where taxi drivers at FLL airport have routinely ripped-off domestic and 
foreign visitors left-and-right for years by driving routes to locations around the area that were NOT the shortest distance between any two points. 
Or even close to the shortest.

The disappearance of the simple (and much-missed) southbound exit from the 
airport onto U.S.-1/Federal Highway towards Dania, Hollywood, Hallandale Beach and points beyond, only facilitated this duplicity by the existing taxi drivers, and made a long-festering problem worse and more self-evident to anyone who was paying the slightest attention.
A fact I've recounted in precise detail to you all in a previous email.

Last year I told some of you the tale of a good friend (and fellow civic activist) 
from Hallandale Beach who, TWICE, after getting off a flight from Ohio, was offered a taxi drive home to Hallandale Beach... via a trip west to 595 and then State Road 7 and then...

Recognizing the scam for what it was -with the licensed taxi driver using the 
half-assed, poorly-conceived stop-gap U-turn north of the airport on U.S.-1 as a means to further confuse riders- my friend voiced his strong disapproval before things got worse.

That this same shady and illegal maneuver was tried by a LICENSED Broward taxi driver 
TWICE on one well-informed Broward resident within just a few months, says a lot about the severity of the problem that everyone ignores around here, not least, the South Florida news media.

Funny how the public never hears anything about taxi drivers getting punished 
for taking advantage of customers, esp at FLL and Port Everglades. 
Given Broward's penchant for capturing data, why isn't there a link to something useful like that prominently posted somewhere on the County website homepage?
Say, along with the name of the taxi company, a brief description of what took place, the amount of the fine imposed on the company by the County AND the number of infractions against that taxi company within the past year -or longer?
I'm all for warnings and Yellow Cards in soccer, but it's long past time for some Red Cards and ejections to take place at FLL, too.

Meanwhile, how do visitors to Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport, 
esp. ones used to taking public transportation from the airport back to their home -in D.C., Chicago and Stockholm to name but three places I know- react when they first encounter Broward's public transit stop at FLL?
Specifically, the #1 Bus?

Tell me, does that bus stop STILL consist of a solitary bench without any shade 
or cover of any sort, despite the weather we have here?
Does that bus stop STILL lack any posted timetables that might help visitors consider their options?
Does that bus stop STILL lack a posted map there of the area?

Does FLL and its Director still believe that NOT having good sensible direction 
signs at the airport to the #1 bus stop, in the year 2015, is a good way of #branding?
I ask about that because you will recall that I mentioned to you last year that on separate occasions, I asked people working the official Help Desk at FLL how and where to catch a public bus. 
They didn't know.
Really.

Yep, that's how bad reputations start -and then get worse when nobody in a position 
of authority cares enough to resolve the problem on the public's behalf.
Which is why in the year 2015, there ought to already be an Advisory Board for Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport that consists ENTIRELY of Broward citizens, with ZERO city or county officials.

And none of the Usual Suspects put forward by the Broward League of Cities and the like who always seem to have as their first goal, gaining more ultimate power and control for local public officials -always at the expense of Broward's beleaguered taxpayers.

I genuinely hope that if things go well on Tuesday as far as the entire Commission actually giving #CommonSense a second chance in Broward, some of you will also seriously consider supporting my idea of creating an appointed Broward Citizen Advisory Board for FLL.
I believe that can serve as a dynamic to make things better there for citizens, taxpayers and visitors to our area, the latter of whom deserve to have their first impression of the area be a positive one.

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