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.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Bombshell! It's actually worse than I thought! Latest news from Buddy Nevins at Broward Beat has left me dumbfounded: Broward Auditor Blasts Fast-And-Loose Spending By Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau Under Former Director Nicki Grossman; No Meaningful Operating Controls on CVB Spending. #ethics

Bombshell! Just when you thought that things in #Broward County could not get any worse, that the Broward Establishment and its chosen people could NOT show their contempt for rules, common sense and the taxpayers of the county any more than they have in the recent past, they do.
Thing are actually worse than I thought! 

That's the only conclusion a reasonable, well-informed person like me can draw from the latest news made public Friday by Buddy Nevins at his Broward Beat website. News that has left most of the concerned Broward civic activists, bloggers and elected officials I know and trust dumbstruck by the sheer scope of this scandal, and in my case, for a rare time, left me almost speechless. Almost.

Broward Auditor Blasts Fast-And-Loose Spending By Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau Under Former Director Nicki Grossman; No Meaningful Operating Controls on CVB Spending

Broward Beat
Auditor Blasts Fast-And-Loose Spending By Tourism Bureau Under Nicki Grossman
By Buddy Nevins
May 5, 2017
Broward’s tourism and convention bureau routinely violated the county’s and state spending rules for years, according to a critical audit released this week. Among the shocking findings:
  • Former Tourism Czar Nicki Grossman handed out $178,000 in sales commissions over two years to 14 members of her staff – extra pay based on hotel rooms sold — without having any proof of results, the audit stated.
The audit of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Tourism and Convention Bureau began in June 2016.  Grossman retired after 21 years the same month and was replaced by Stacy Ritter, a former county commissioner.
Read the rest of the post at:

Apparently, the Greater FTL CVB has been run for years just like the Hallandale Beach CRA has been the past ten-plus years under Mayor Joy Cooper, where money goes out the back door without much need to justify it, and with lots of political cover to keep curious citizens from asking pesky questions.
No oversight, no accountability and, seemingly, no proof of anything tangible actually being accomplished required to actually receive $$$.
Just the approving nod-and-wink of the people in charge.

Before continuing on to the Nevins bombshell, I remind you loyal readers of the blog - especially you newcomers!- that I posted something here on the blog about the curious goings on with the Greater Fort Lauderdale CVB as recently as last month. 

For those of you who don't know, the Greater FTL CVB has long been a  bête noire of mine, in large part because for so many years, it has seemed clear to me based on all the available evidence that they were able to consistently get away with frequently saying and doing things publicly that could not be substantiated or proven by facts or data more than probably any other group in South Florida.
Even more, dare I say, than the intentional misstatement of facts, misdirection and spin emanating from the Dolphins and Marlins so often the past ten years, which is really saying something. 

Whether stated at public meetings or via pithy comments to the local South Florida news media that rarely holds tourism groups like them to account publicly for what they say, I'd frequently read and hear things that simply didn't add up.
But the local news media, even when presented with information that contradicted what the CVB said, did and said nothing.
Did nothing like actually engaging in some old-fashioned reporting because the media was dependent upon the CVB for both information and access to many important events, esp. ones with well-known personalities and celebrities certain to attend.

That post of April 6th was labeled, Downward Tourism Trend: Broward County's Tourism efforts, as measured by number of hotel visitors, are suffering just as Las Vegas is seeing very positive changes and results in key demographics, including Millennials

Since then, Buddy Nevins on his website -and me in my tweets at @hbbtruth- has publicly questioned what was going on with the Broward Convention Center and efforts to either expand it or move it, because of a desire to have a large, new convention-style hotel attached, something that has been a goal of the Broward Establishment for multiple 

But the lack of an attached convention-style hotel has also been a longstanding problem for the Miami Beach Convention Center, and yet they seem able to still book big events there every year, like Art Basel, because there are so many hotels within a reasonable walking distance.
But it's true that they are NOT able to book larger corporate or industry conventions because of that very same problem. It's a genuine problem that won't solve itself.

So let's review the reality of 2017 for Broward taxpayers, residents and Small Business owners.
Broward County currently has a Convention Center that nearly everyone agrees now is situated in a bad location. A bad location as far as traffic goes and which crowds out economic engine Port Everglades' legitimate current and future expansion needs.

Broward County owns an indoor sports arena situated in a very bad location out near the Everglades that's not only far from the center or even bulk of Broward's population, but which is also NOT near any existing or future mass transit like TriRail.
And for good measure, that sports arena never generates revenue for Broward County taxpayers AND has a very curious management contract that most US cities and counties would never agree to.
But wait, there's MORE!

We also have in county-owned Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport a place that as we all saw to our dismay and shock in January, quite literally, is full of people who do NOT know what to do in case of a real emergency, like a shooting. 
The County and the airport actually had people in-place there that day who made a horrible situation MUCH WORSE... and given the airport a much-deserved black eye.


Everyone here understands that FLL airport is a hugely important economic engine for the community whose ripple effects are felt all over South Florida, and whose safe, smart and efficient operation is crucial to our area and daily lives.
Yet few people know that it currently lacks an appointed Citizen Advisory Board that can provide a degree of independent oversight and accountability to the community at large that is separate and NOT beholden to the airport's current management, the airlines or the airports contractors and vendors who contribute large campaign funds to County Commission candidates.
We have an airport where most Broward residents no longer comment publicly on the absurd reality that confronts us on a daily basis - when you are at the Tri-Rail Airport train station, you are NOT actually at the airport itself.

You can imagine how dismayed tourists, esp, international visitors, are when they encounter something like that for the first time.
They wonder who would plan something like that, that is both short-sighted and second-rate. And they are right!

I have been publicly urging for years that the Broward County Commission create an Airport Citizen Advisory Board that can be a voice for the people of this community, who are, let us not forget, also the airport's main clients.
We are the customers.

And yet now these same Establishment Movers and Shakers in the Broward political and business community responsible for most of these problems I've mentioned want to have major input in the future location of a new U.S. Courthouse?
Instead of, say, at a minimum, agreeing and insisting that it be located near a prospective Tri Rail Coastal train station so that people all over the county can access it without a car or the need for more expensive parking garages to be built?

No thanks!!!

In light of what I read in Buddy' Nevins' article today about the audit of the Greater FTL CVB and their predilection for winging-it, I truly wonder if the hotel visitors numbers that I cited in my blog post of last month are even lower than what the CVB publicly stated.
It really makes you wonder what you are supposed to believe, if people put in powerful positions of influence can't or refuse to be bothered to document things that would be required in any other well-run business, much less, one that's affiliated with govt. funds.

Do I need to remind you that as things currently stand, there is NOT an elected, county-wide Mayor for Broward County to ensure that there is positive direction, leadership and accountability for its residents and Small Business owners? I thought not.

Yes, to quote myself from this blog several months ago, we could definitely use someone as capable, savvy, hard-working and ethical as former Hollywood Mayor Peter Bober as Broward County Mayor when that title really means something tangible.

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