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 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.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Happy Holidays from Hallandale Beach: A taste of chutzpah, hypocrisy & incompetency with your eggnog -again!- thanks to Mayor Joy Cooper

South Florida Sun Sentinel
Blogger's latest crusade: 'In Satan We Trust' plaques at city halls
By Susannah Bryan 
Dec. 29, 2015 1:52 PM

I'm torn b/w tweeting this to poke Hallandale Beach Mayor Joy Cooper publicly -the same thin-kinned HB mayor who called me a Nazi when she thought I could not hear her, BEFORE a HB City Comm. mtg. started- and my desire to not draw attention to Sun-Sentinel reporter Susannah Bryan, whom, unfortunately, I believe the evidence reasonably shows has done real damage to the community for years by her consciously favoring #frivolous over more serious reporting of issues in Hallandale Beach and Hollywood.
A fact I have written about many times on the blog previously with self-evident examples.

Which is to say, her apathy and HER refusal to report on things when they happen so that HB and Hollywood citizens can know the true facts, and not have to wait until 6-9 months later, or longer, AFTER a formal (and often criminal) investigation has begun.
Which has been Bryan's habit for years, with too many examples to mention quickly here -but then most of you already know some if not most of these examples by heart! :-(

If you hadn't already guessed by the headline, Blogger's latest crusade:  In Satan We Trust' plaques at city halls, this story involves our friend and fellow South Florida civic activist, Chaz Stevens.

In case you forgot some of the unintended irony of this article, which the reporter fails to note, Joy Cooper first ran for the HB City Commission in part, so she said at the time, to complain about what she said was the city's flagrant and self-evident use of religious items on taxpayer property at holidays in ways that she thought were inappropriate.

And once elected, Joy Cooper promptly did nothing about something that she'd previously said was a real problem. Something she'd be willing to sue the city about.

I wrote about that issue six years ago on the blog: Happy Holidays from Hallandale Beach: A taste of chutzpah, hypocrisy and incompetency with your eggnog; Joy Cooper's change of heart after getting elected is just another one of those things that makes us all shake our heads

And so it goes...

More info about Chaz Stevens at 


Thursday, December 24, 2015

It wouldn't be Christmas without... Jill Johnson, "Away in a manger"; Yohanna, "Don't Save It All For Christmas Day"; Point of Grace, "When Love Came Down"

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Some quick thoughts re Charlie Cook of the Cook Political Report, his unique role in D.C., his feelings about tonight's GOP debate in Las Vegas, and the 2016 presidential campaign thus far... @CharlieCookDC

The National Journal
What’s on the Line in Las Vegas - For some of the Republican wannabes, Tuesday’s debate could matter a lot.
Charlie Cook, December 14, 2015

As we get older, some of us ac­cu­mu­late pet peeves. For me, this is one: when journ­al­ists write of an up­com­ing event as tan­tamount to a turn­ing point in the his­tory of civil­iz­a­tion, or at least since the in­ven­tion of sliced bread. In polit­ics, many im­port­ant events shape elec­tions, and a suc­ces­sion of events big and small make up what we call the cam­paign. For some of the can­did­ates, Tues­day night’s Re­pub­lic­an de­bate in Las Ve­gas, sponsored by CNN and Face­book, is crit­ic­ally im­port­ant; for oth­ers, even a strong per­form­ance would likely be too little, too late. There are likely to be no ad­di­tion­al events between now and the first week of Janu­ary—noth­ing that’s planned, any­way—that can change the dy­nam­ics of this race.

Read the rest of the article at http://www.nationaljournal.com/s/126039

I first met Charlie Cook of the eponymous Cook Political Report in 1992, when I had a 5-6 month gig at Roll Call newspaper in DC in-between some interviews I was having for some fulltime jobs at trade associations and law/lobbying firms, starting in the spring before the 1992 General Election that Bill Clinton won. 

This was in the pre-Internet era when Doug Bailey's The Hotline was faxed daily to eager subscribers aroung the Beltway and the country, and their most-eagerly anticipated 'coverage' in the 15-20 pages we'd print out were whatever crazy smart or crazy cruel thing that Mary Matalin had said in defense of President Bush or against Bill Clinton and the Democrats, and she pulled no punches, much to everyone's delight and constant amazement in the office. 
(If only Twitter had existed then!)

This was back when Roll Call was co-owned by Arthur Levitt before President Clinton nominated him to be SEC Chairman, and the paper was edited by James "Jim' Glassman
Which is to say, before it was owned by The Economist, and before The Hill existed.

Charlie's then-independent Cook Political Report was then-located in the same office around the corner from DC's Union Station as us, a few blocks north of the Senate side of Capitol Hill. 
It's while there that among other things, that I first met future Washington state's U.S. Senator Patty Murray months before she won her Senate primary and before her consultant's "mom in tennis shoes" ad campaign became a bit of a national thing via CNN.

That came about because a colleague in the Washington state Senate had once, foolishly, said she was “just a mom in tennis shoes. Go home. You can’t make a difference.”
Then as well as now, sometimes, left to their own devices, your opponents create your golden opportunity.

So, naturally, given all this, we were all VERY curious what Murray would wear for her first appointment with Charlie, which we all knew in advance would be crucial to her, and if positive,would likely have a tidal wave effect on DC PACs and the Beltway Dem money crowd IF she impressed him and his staff.

Surprise! She made a point of wearing sneakers with her smart professional outfit, looking like most of the women I'd just seen on the Metro train a few minutes before, wearing some sort of Anne Klein II thing. 
Murray's now the highest-ranking woman in the Senate.

In large part because of his amiable personality and disposition towards fairness -and his remarkable lack of a large ego despite his renown- as well as his zeal for facts and analytics, and his crazy memory for arcane facts, Charlie is probably the most-universally respected person I ever met in my 15 years in DC from 1988-2003.


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Confirming what most of us have long suspected, apparently, some #Broward cities & communities must be divided so that some political careers can manage to stay afloat. For instance, Eleanor Sobel's. Her track record in office is cringe-worthy!; Matt Dixon: Deposition questions partisan emails of redistricting plaintiffs

*Blog post was updated on Friday December 11th, 2015 at 3:45 pm

Deposition questions partisan emails of redistricting plaintiffs 
By Matt Dixon  8:49 p.m. | Dec. 9, 2015

TALLAHASSEE — During an eight-hour deposition, attorneys grilled a map-drawer for a coalition of plaintiffs challenging the state Senate lines, questioning his process, his personal politics, and emails that indicate the challengers were looking to “draw additional dem seats.”

“Try to carve dem districts that honor the statutes,” read a Nov. 21, 2011 email from Brad Wieneke, an employee with a company then called Strategic Telemetry, a Washington-based Democratic consulting firm.

Read the rest of the article at:

Matt Dixon's excellent article in Politico FLORIDA, above, comes as a great tonic and fact-filled followup to many of the dozens of blog posts I've written in this space over the years regarding the history and tortured culture of Florida's gerrymandered political districts, the efforts by some public interest groups -even ones whose goals for more responsive govt. I ostensibly supported, like Fair Districts- to find a way to bollix things up by acting holier-than-thou.

And, predictably, being exposed for being the hypocrites they were all along, even when people like me were asking frank questions of their leaders via emails about seeming inconsistencies and NOT getting anything resembling the sort of reasonable response you'd expect from someone if they were being square with you.

Some of you will recall the silence with which my requests for information from the local Broward and Miami-Dade chapters of the League of Women Voters was met, as well as the Florida HQ.
Especially in the days and weeks before the Florida Senate had their meetings around the state, which they actually advertised far in advance and provided doucmentation for, unlike LWV. 

So, that article of Dixon's and my own frustrated history of following this issue leads me to ask this today to you readers:
Why must a small #Broward city like #HallandaleBeach continue to be carved-up year-after-year, election cycle after election cycle, based almost entirely on Black/Jewish voting numbers, so that contrary to common sense and its own best interests, it CAN'T be properly unified?
Perhaps, even be represented by 1 person in the #FL state House, 1 person in the FL state Senate, 1 person on the Broward County Commission and 1 person in the U.S. Congress?
This effort to keep this community of under 40,000 people here permanently divided, has one practical effect: to prevent it from effectively being able to make its desires and wishes known to candidates in advance of elections in meaningful numbers.

Instead, Hallandale Beach is kept sliced and diced for the benefit of pols who need and want only certain kinds of voters. It's the very same reason that residents of the City of Aventura in Miami-Dade County are represented by a Congressional District based in Pembroke Pines in western Broward County, while the people of western Hallandale Beach, who live less than five miles from the Atlantic Ocean, are made part of a CD that is centered just north of downtown Miami and west of 1-95.  

The reasons for this? #ambition #greed

Question I've never heard asked by a single local South Florida-based reporter the past few years:
Why is state Senator Eleanor Sobel's current #33 District office -located across from Hollywood City Hall and the Hollywood branch of the Broward County Library system- an office that's directly subsidized by City of Hollywood taxpayers, actually NOT located in her own district, but, based on the state's own maps, located within the district of Oscar Braynon II, in the 36th District?

Could it be because a cheapskate with a sense of entitlement like Eleanor Sobel, who, before asking Hollywood taxpayers to pay for it, consciously chose NOT to locate her own district office in one of the many empty storefronts in downtown Hollywood that she could have chosen from, can't afford to be choosy?

But why expect more from someone who, having asked for the handout from Hollywood taxpayers, chose NOT to even appear in-person at the Hollywood City Commision meeting when that very issue was on the agenda, and thus be forced to hear and respond to pointed questions and comments from both the Commission as well as the community?

I wrote about that on my blog when it was actually happening, as opposed to... well everyone else not named Sara Case.
Sara and I were alone in South Florida in publicly questioning Sobel's efforts and motives, and chiding her publicly for setting a bad example of the sort that we do NOT need to see more of in these parts, given how very entitled so many pols from this area already are when it comes to public largesse and accommodations. 

We hardly need any more evidence of that than the caving-in the other day on Broward ethics rules due to Broward Comm. Lois Wexler's desire to be kept nourished at someone else's expense, such as when doing work re Broward's Election Canvassing Board.
Yes, God forbid that her her $92k-plus govt. salary prevents her from picking something up at Starbucks or McDonalds or even making a sandwich at home on the way to the meeting like you and me!

Most of us have long since come to the conclusion that Sobel didn't show up for the most obvious reason - she didn't want to. 
And specifically, she didn't want to listen to pointed questions about the appropriateness of her request for taxpayer dollars coming from well-informed constituents inquiring about HER curious choice of priorities -again: herself.

And remind me again, now that Eleanor Sobel is running for Mayor of Hollywood, why would anyone in the area who genuinely believes in meaningful financial accountability, responsibility and oversight of government -which she chose to personally prevent when it came time over two years ago to have the JLAC audit and examine the longstanding unethical and incompetent history of the Hallandale Beach CRA and its many inexplicably missing documents- be rewarded for engaging in that behavior year-after-year?
Aren't we entitled to expect better?

All of you who want to be better informed about Sobel's antics while in office the past few years only need avail yourselves of what I've already written -usually with links to what others have written as well- based on my actually being there when things were happening -or weren't- as opposed to the approach taken so often by the Miami Herald and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Tell me, what were the most salient facts to come out of Tim Ryan's lawsuit against Eleanor Sobel in 2009 after he and Ken Gottlieb were defeated in a well-funded and unscrupulous campaign of hers that was negative even for this area with little-to-no standards? (I voted for Ryan.) 
What statements did Sobel make to the public and the media that were proven to have been self-serving lies?

Guess what, most people in Broward don't know the answer because the two area newspapers and all four English language TV stations stopped sending reporters to cover it all the way thru, as any check of their own archives shows. And I bemoaned this fact to anyone who would listen.

Tell me, when did you ever see a local TV reporter ask Sobel on camera to explain why she tried to prevent JLAC from investigating the City of Hallandale Beach CRA after the Broward IG's damning report about the waste of millions of dollars.
It's never happened.

Broward Bulldog wrote this,
Two senators short-circuit Legislature’s plan to audit troubled Hallandale Beach CRA 
By Willliam Gjebre, BrowardBulldog.org, NOVEMBER 26, 2013 AT 6:13 AM
 Buddy Nevins wrote this on November 28, 2013,  
More coverups by Hallandale and Eleanor Sobel is to blame! http://t.co/X2DZcLDXEk

Yet Sobel had no qualms about doing the bidding of her campaign pals at the Broward PBA to have JLAC investigate the City of Hollywood after the voters of the city thoroughly rejected the PBA's arguments and accepted the city's in a referendum about the city's budget, a loss that still rubs the Broward PBA and their more mouthymembers raw to this day? 
Who wrote about that? Me.

This came about AFTER the Broward PBA broke Hollywood's city's charter laws about campaign finance and disclosure in their attempt too punish officials who didn't let them continue to ride roughshod over the city's budget.
So, where are all the media stories about those stories, or the city taking the Broward PBA to court for violating the rules?

Any reasonably well-informed and observant person who has lived in this part of South Florida knows one thing, and that is that state Senate Districts #33, # 35 and #36, cheek-by-jowl, are intentionally drawn and designed to prevent the sort of harmonious #diversity within the community that the very same #South Florida politicians are always calling for and demanding to see from OTHER people and OTHER groups. (Pols like like Eleanor Sobel.)

Frankly, it's kind of hard NOT to notice it, but our current South Florida news media and political "experts" keep NOT noticing it. 
Why do you suppose that is? 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Our new German problem: lack of effort. Have you really considered how little #Germany has been doing and is prepared to do in the future against #ISIS? Why is this topic continuing to be ignored in Washington and by the U.S. news media?

Our new German problem: lack of effort. Have you really considered how little #Germany has been doing and is prepared to do in the future against #ISIS? Why is this topic continuing to be ignored in Washington and by the U.S. news media?

Have you really considered how little #Germany has been doing and is prepared to do in the future against #ISIS? Why is this topic continuing to be ignored in Washington and by the U.S. news media?

For months I've closely followed the glacial pace of things in Germany largely via DW,
Deutsche Welle, both on TV and in print, since the U.S. news media has seemed to decide to give Germany and their current Ambassador to the U.S., Peter Wittiga 'hall pass' on all controversial topics, like #Ukraine #Russia #sanctions #ISIS. 
Any one of which, Once Upon a Time in the '70's, '80's or '90's, would have gotten him an invite he could not really turn down.

If you didn't know it, even for something as insignificant as sending 100 German military 
"advisorsto Iraq who would never be put in a position to actually face the enemy, there
was months and months of Sturm und Drang in the Bundestag, in the country 
where Sturm und Drang was born.

As someone who spent LOTS of time over at the German Embassy in Washington, D.C. pre and post Fall of the Berlin Wall, on trade and economic issues, and who made enough 
friends there to attend the party at the Embassy celebrating the unification in 1991 -even bringing a German chocolate cake with the German flag's colors on it that I ordered at the #1 German bakery in greater DC, not far from my house in Arlington County- I was especially aghast last year that Germany's policy was, despite all the evidence to the contrary, to be firmly against arming Ukraine so that it could better defend itself.

Which is how it came to be that back on February 8th, before Chancellor Merkel's visit to DC, I asked the Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, @SenBobCorker
How is #Merkel #Germany an ally vs. Isis if sending 100 Bundeswehr 2 TRAIN Iraqis is political crisis? 

Condescending, patronizing pols in Germany acted like their troops were almost too important to actually deploy them to the Mid-East to accomplish something tangiblethat was in the West's best interests. But did you see anything about this in the newspaper or on network TV at the time?

And not once in all the many long months since the shoot down of the Malaysian flight 
MH17 over Ukraine last August by Russian-armed and trained separatists has the Ambassador Wittig gone on a single American Sunday morning TV chat show to lay out the position of Germany to the American people, whose own sons and daughters, husbands and wives continue to be stationed in Germany in the tens of thousands to defend Germany against the existential threat that President Obama claimed in one of his 2012
debates with Mitt Romney did NOT exist -Putin's Russia.

Well, history has shown us who was right about that question, haven't they?
And the Russia reset, too.

No, these days, the Foreign Ministry geniuses at the German Embassy on Reservoir Road prefer to employ their old standby, checkbook foreign policy, and simply pay for ads on Foreign Policy magazine's email newsletters, like this one I received, below, so they aren't forced to explain or defend their policies in-person to people who know the facts and could pin them down.
Yes, it sort of explains a lot about the current Foreign Policy Establishment and what it just winks at:

And paying for ads also means they don't have to deal with curious ethical issues like this:
#Germany hires ex #Stasi to check #Facebook for critics of #immigration policy. 

So, to sum it up, Peter Wittigthe German Amb. to the U.S. has not appeared on one of the most guest-friendly forums he could possibly appear on in all of DC, esp. for an important ally like Germany, Sunday morning chat shows, and been forced to defend Germany's feckless position on all these important matters, even while smaller countries with much less resources are continuing to punch above their weight.

Meanwhile, Germany, the European economic giant opts largely to stay on the sidelines as a spectator in the fight against ISIS, preferring to play the role of pit-crew grease monkey,
and not be one of the actual participants.
How much longer is this kind of unhelpful behavior going to be allowed to continue -and continue to be unremarked upon by the American press?