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, July 21, 2016

Hallandale Beach loses one of its longtime sparkplugs, and a genuine voice of the people who wanted the city to be so much better: Mary Washington

This morning I received an email with some sad news about energetic, longtime Hallandale Beach community activist, former COHB Director of Human Services and City Commission candidate Mary Washington from her family.

"It is with great sadness to inform you that Mom...Mary G Washington is no longer with us.

Mother passed away yesterday July 19th, 2016.  She really enjoyed receiving and reading your blog and of course was a long time employee and activist with our City.
The wake will be Friday, July 29th, 2016 with the funeral services the following morning at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Hallandale.
 
The church is located at 816 N.W. 1st Avenue, Hallandale Beach.
 
 
At public meetings all around Hallandale Beach on a whole myriad of issues, but especially before, during and after important and often-contentious, marathon-long Hallandale Beach City Commission and P&Z meetings, Mary Washington was always very kind and sweet to me -and I know to many of you reading this as well.
 
When asked, Mary was always willing to share with me the benefit of her great personal and institutional knowledge of the city, its history and people.
From what she told me and what other people have told me about her over the years, she knew nearly everyone who was anyone in this town for many, many decades, and was a loyal friend and advisor to a whole host of people who have tried to make this a better community for the largest number of people, including the city's African-American population, which has been SO poorly served by its city's elected officials and bureaucracy for so very long.
 
To the extent that anyone plausibly could, she would often try to explain to an often-incredulous me, patiently, how this city that has so many great physical advantages, located as it is in a geographic sweet spot in South Florida, with access to both the Atlantic Ocean and an interstate and with a world-famous horse racing facility to lure visitors, Gulfstream Park Race Track & Casino, had consistently managed to squander so MUCH of its natural potential, to everyone's detriment.
 
That slow process, of mediocrity being piled upon mediocrity, is how this Broward city has reached its current sorry state of governance that has become so infamous throughout South Florida.
A city where "normal" standards of government accountability and public oversight by elected officials and the staff have been and continue to be almost non-existent, have, over the years, quite rightly made it a media laughingstock.
 
There were years and years of poor choices by elected officials and highly-paid staffers who didn't live here, inadequate oversight and an insular political culture at HB City Hall that actually thought that keeping citizens out of the decision-making process was actually better than letting them participate in a meaningful way.
Years of city leaders failing repeatedly to seize opportunity to do do right by its citizens and Small Businesses owners have definitely left their mark.
 
Since I returned to South Florida from the Washington, D.C. area in late 2003, and began to make my concerns about what was going on -or wasn't- known at public meetings and in emails to others who wanted something better for this community, with me, Mary was gracious and free with her opinions about local issues and people, with particular attention to HB City Hall's careless and frequently combative attitude towards its very own citizens and neighborhoods.
 
With her help, and that of others who had much more personal first-hand knowledge of what was what, I eventually came to see the most-recent history I and my friends experienced here and that I've tried my best to honestly and accurately chronicle here on the blog, as just a case of history repeating itself.
That is, the long history in Hallandale Beach of important information and decisions being both closely held and made by only a handful of people, with the result that HB citizens and Small Business owners were usually the last ones to know what's really going on, despite their best efforts to be as fully engaged and informed as possible.

A problem that has been made worse by a largely absent and incurious South Florida press corps the past ten years, which was either afraid to report what was really taking place here and the logical consequences that one should expect as a result, despite how upfront and predictable it all was, or, they just couldn't be bothered to simply show up, observe and report what they saw and heard in a fair-minded fashion.
 
Yes, Mary Washington shared your/our #frustration with Hallandale Beach, but she always hoped for the best.
Despite everything she had been witness to over the years, Mary remained an optimist.
She will be greatly missed.
 

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