Hallandale Beach Water Tower on A1A/Ocean Drive, July 3, 2009 photo by South Beach Hoosier

Hallandale Beach Water Tower on A1A/Ocean Drive, July 3, 2009 photo by South Beach Hoosier
Hallandale Beach Water Tower on State Road A1A/South Ocean Drive & Hallandale Beach Blvd. Located below the Hallandale Beach Water Tower on A1A/South Ocean Drive, on the south side (right) is the "Community Center" that HB City Hall, thru their gross incompetency and spite, made off-limits to HB citizen taxpayers for over three-and-a-half years after being given it for FREE by The Related Group, after they'd used it as their "model" sales office for The Beach Club condo towers next-door. In 2012 the city signed a not-so lucrative deal to make it the "model" sales HQ for RG's The Beachwalk project next to the Intracoastal Bridge, thereby putting this taxpayer-owned building just steps from the Atlantic Ocean off-limits to Hallandale Beach citizens for years to come. (And where's the American flag on the Fourth of July weekend? Missing in action as it had been for months when i snapped this photo!) July 3, 2009 photo by South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved. For many years under Mayor Joy Cooper and City Managers Mark Antonio & Renee C. Miller, the City of Hallandale Beach illegally used this photo of mine on their official website as well as in large posters at city buildings, including the lobby of HB City Hall. This was done in clear violation of federal copyright laws, as they stole the photo without EVER asking my permission to use it or paying me a single cent. Really.
Hallandale Beach Blog is a common-sense public policy overview offering a critical perspective on current events, economics, government, politics & culture of South Florida, in particular, the cities of Hallandale Beach and Hollywood. South Beach Hoosier, www.SouthBeachHoosier.blogspot.com, is where I also ruminate on national and international subjects, especially the past and current South Florida sports scene with the Dolphins, the Marlins, the Orioles, the University of Miami Hurricanes, and the Indiana University Hoosiers. But sometimes, if it's particularly germane or amusing, I post it here, too.
Everything you see on this page was originally located on my current blog, Hallandale Beach Blog, www.HallandaleBeachBlog.blogspot.com
Due to space considerations over time, as I wrote new posts and added new photos to the blog, I had to move some items, photos, posts and, videos off the main site to keep the blog more manageable, but I didn't want to simply delete these items forever, since many were popular, so I've created this mirror hyphenated blog so they could remain alive, as it were. I especially didn't want to move the videos, but having too many videos on the main page slowed the loading time, so...
Many of the photos below have necessarily been reduced in size from their original to fit within the new site parameters here, which explains, some of the odd photo sizes, but I still have the full-size version of them. Please come see what I'm up to NOW at:

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

South Florida has once again redefined the meaning of "Free Ride." But shouldn't we all realize by now that when it comes to #TransportationPolicy in #SoFL, there's no such thing as a free ride? But #Miami pols, @Tri_Rail & @AllAboardFla can't help themslves when it comes to taking taxpayer dollars and taking credit for something BEFORE the facts are ALL in

As originally seen on March 26, 2015 at parent blog, Hallandale Beach Blog

South Florida, and NOT to its credit, has once again redefined the meaning of "Free Ride." But shouldn't we all realize by now -after so DOZENS of fatally-flawed transit decisions and an equal number of poorly-executed plans- that when it comes to #Transportation Policy in #SoFL, there's no such thing as a free ride? 
But #Miami pols, @Tri_Rail & @AllAboardFla can't help themslves when it comes to taking taxpayer dollars and taking credit for something BEFORE the facts are ALL in

Below is a slightly-expanded version of an email that I sent out early last night, after reading the article and tweets below, to just under 200 concerned citizens, pols and news media reps in the Sunshine State, and to transportation reporters and columnists across the U.S.A.
I was not able to send all the tweets to them, so... include them here

Miami Herald
Tri-Rail would offer free rides to Overtown district residents in station deal

Douglas Hanks, Miami Herald
March 24, 2005

Tri-Rail would offer free passes to large numbers of Overtown residents in exchange for public funding of a new Miami station, part of a deal aimed at piecing together $69 million in tax dollars to bring the commuter line to a privately funded train depot downtown.

The largely state-funded Tri-Rail would offer free passes to residents inside Miami's Overtown/Park West taxing district in exchange for extracting about $30 million from the entity for construction of a Tri-Rail platform in All Aboard Florida's rail complex that's about to begin construction in downtown Miami.

Read the rest of the article at:

Miami Today
Tourist taxes add-on a creative way to finance vital transit  
Written by Michael Lewis on March 25, 2015

If Miami-Dade commissioners succeed in a creative drive to increase two of our three tourism taxes by one percentage point each, they can amass more than $60 million a year to build mass transit.
Anyone who tries to get around this county knows how vital this is, because bonding this guaranteed revenue could provide several billion dollars to start building transit immediately.
Read the rest of the column at:

A few things worth knowing while you digest the facts and anecdotes above and try to make sense of it all:

In case you forgot -or never knew- the person who led the effort to change the City of Miami's former CRA district and create a new CRA district -done as part of the City of Miami and Miami-Dade County's foolish efforts to build a new taxpayer-built baseball stadium for the Florida Marlins- is none other than Marc Sarnoff.

Yes, the outgoing City of Miami commissioner at the center of this story, now a paid CRA Director, and, oh yeah, someone trying desperately to elect his wife as his successor on the Miami City
Commission. Really.
Hastag: #Context

Now perhaps those of you who doubted me last year when I -alone in South Florida- publicly asked why the one-and-only public All Aboard Florida public scoping meeting scheduled in Miami-Dade County last year was taking place in a crime-ridden area that future users of the train between Miami and Orlando would never willingly visit without an ample display of security.

In case you forgot, this one-and-only AAF public scoping meeting in M-D was scheduled to be held at night, during the week, at a place where, IF you entered its address on Google Maps like I did and looke at it via Street View, what you saw was the side of a liquor store with debris everywhere.
Again, REALLY.

As opposed to, well, having it at a centralized location in the county with plenty of parking spaces outside and plenty of air conditioned seats inside on a hot day that would ACTUALLY draw future paid train passengers for rides to Orlando?
Afterall, AAF is trying to cast as large a net as possible for passengers, aren't they?

Trust me, for their business plan to be successful, their core audience can not consist of just poor people and people who lack a car to make the drive up to Orlando.
But look how clumsily and amateurish it was handled when they had lots of time to decide what they were going to do?
That's called portent, my friends...

Yes, but then THAT is precisely the kind of planning we've come to expect from the same AAF folks who've always got their hands out for more for the public purse, forgetting that many of us still recall how much they bragged and patted themselves on the back early on for how much theirs was a "private" enterprise.

The same people who did NOT even plan on hosting a public scoping meeting anywhere in Broward County for its taxpayers and consumers last year until I embarrassed, shamed and publicly flogged them, via several high-profile emails and blog posts that were cc'd to the South Florida, Orlando and Tampa Bay area  news media, and a handful of people with power and influence in Tallahassee with
an interest in logic intersecting with reason at least, well, OCCASIONALLY in public policy

Me, via the blog last May, which generated more than a few not-so-happy phone calls and emails to people who thought they'd pulled a fast one:

More Transit Policy Woes in South Florida: With stealthy and self-sabotaging friends like All Aboard Florida and SFRTA/Tri-Rail, pro-transit advocates in South Florida don't need any more enemies; 'All Aboard Florida' fails to schedule a single public scoping meeting in Broward County this Spring despite Fort Lauderdale being a proposed station, while SFRTA chief refuses to answer a simple question -Will Hallandale Beach have a station under the proposed Coastal line plan?; Just because you're pro-transit doesn't mean you have to ignore displays of transit incompetency or mismanagement when you see it!

After I publicly outed AAF's ill-conceived plan to ignore the very Broward public -and its future customers- who'd no doubt be asked to pay in some manner or form towards a new public train station and assorted infrastructure in Fort Lauderdale, they wised-up and decided to throw one together in Fort Lauderdale.
Wow, talk about disrespecting their own core consumer audience!
WHO would intentionally do THAT???

Not that the people at AAF and the assorted City of Fort Lauderdale and Broward County geniuses have yet to figure out how they'll keep Fort Lauderdale's sizable homeless population from camping en masse in and near any new public train station.
That, of course, is proposed for but a few blocks from Broward County's present central bus depot, off Broward Blvd.

You know, right in the middle of the area where, as has been reported upon for MANY years, homeless people drink (and often defecate) everywhere, as is entirely self-evident to anyone paying attention.
With the City of Fort Lauderdale City Hall but a stone's throw away!
But they just ignore it.

Unfortunately, because like so many levels of government in South Florida, with rare exceptions -like open-minded Coral Gables City Manager Cathy Swanson-Rivenbark, whom I knew and trusted implicitly from her years of being an Assistant City Manager and City Manager in Hollywood, who consistently talked-the-talk and walked-the-walk on transparency and public input on public policy- they're always thinking that a PR-driven strategy will inevitably trump a logical and well-planned public policy and goal that actually requires genuine public input.

But what they almost always fail to appreciate is that the public buying-in, if the plan is smart and sound, esp. financially, almost always results in genuine public success achieved SOONER, not just the mere illusion of it.

That same unfortunate attitude I think also explains why so many public places in Florida in general and South Florida in particular seem so resolutely mediocre, second-rate and ill-conceived.

Is that what we really want with train/commuter stations that ought to have been built 40 years ago, when I was a kid growing up in North Miami Beach, which perhaps could have kept South Florida from physically expanding beyond reason -and infrastructure- including building stadiums and arenas far from core supporters, when logic would have seen them built near well-planned train stations, which would have benefited everyone, including the team's bottom line?

As a longtime public transit advocate, in Chicago, D.C./Arlington County as well as in South Florida, I think not. 

But just because we see the important role of public planning and public transit doesn't mean we support breaking the public bank to do so, and pretend that car-centric South Florida is, overnight, going to become transit-friendly, and therefore can sign-off on gold-plating everything so that Marc Sarnoff can see his reflection on a plaque of names for years to come.
What are -and where are?- the benchmarks that AAF and Tri-Rail should have to reach in order to get the deal they want?

My experience is that simplicity and ease-of-use will count for more with the people who actually use a train station in the future, since that's what they will tell their friends, family and work colleagues,
and no amount of PR dollars can ever equal that.

The powers-that-be need to create train stations in Miami and Fort Lauderdale with the same mindset used to create the current international airport in Oslo, where so many first-time visitors feel exactly as I did in 2013: completely at-ease and not the least bit confused or overwhelmed.

Something I know about from using O'Hare so often for so many years in the 1980's while living in Chicago, Evanston and Wilmette.

You actually WANT to linger.
That surely counts for something, no?

Heia Norge!

No comments:

Hallandale Beach Blog is where I try to inject or superimpose a degree
of accountability, transparency and insight onto local Broward County
government and public policy issues, which I feel is sorely lacking in
local media now. On this blog, I concentrate my energy, enthusiasm,
anger and laser-like attention on the coastal cities of Hollywood
and Hallandale Beach.

If you lived in this part of South Florida, you'd ALREADY be stuck in
stultifying traffic, paying higher-than-necessary taxes and continually
musing about the chronic lack of accountability among not only elected
govt. officials, but also of city, county and state employees as well.

Collectively, with a few rare exceptions, they couldn't be farther from the
sort of strong results-oriented, eager work-ethic mentality that local
residents deserve and expect. This is particularly true in the town I live
in, the City of Hallandale Beach, just north of Aventura and south of

There, the "Perfect Storm" of years of apathy, incompetency and cronyism
are all too readily apparent. Sadly for its residents, HB is where even
easily-solved, quality-of-life problems are left to fester for YEARS on end,
because of myopia, lack of common sense and ineffective supervisory
management. It's a city with lots of potential because of its terrific location,
yet its citizens have become numb to its outrages and screw-ups after
years of the worst kind of mismanagement and lack of foresight.

On a daily basis, they wake-up and see the same old problems that have
NEVER being adequately resolved by the city in a logical and responsible
fashion, merely kicked -once again- further down the road.

I used to ask myself, not always rhetorically, "Where are all the enterprising
young reporters who want to show that through their own hard work and
enterprise, what REAL investigative reporting can produce?"

Hearing no response, I decided to start a blog that could do some of these
things, taking the p.o.v. of a reasonable but skeptical person seeing the
situation for the first time, and wanting questions answered in a honest
and logical way that citizens have the right to expect.
Hallandale Beach Blog intends to be a catalyst for positive change.

If there's one constant gripe in South Florida, regardless of your age,
race, nationality or political persuasion, it's about the fundamental lack
of PUBLIC ACCOUNTABILITY here among Florida's state, regional and
local govt./agency officials.

Hallandale Beach Blog aims to be a small step towards regaining some
of that needed accountability, whether it's thru simple public scrutiny,
or requires a degree of follow-up investigation and public exposure of
incompetency, cronyism or simple negligence -South Florida's usual
governing style.

David put his hand in the bag and took out a stone and slung it. And it struck the Philistine on the head and he fell to the ground. Amen."-
Preacher Purl encouraging the underdog Hickory High basketball team before the state title game against heavily-favored South Bend Central in 1986's Hoosiers http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0091217/

Audio of pregame speech:

Nature meets man's quest for oceanfront property in HB

Nature meets man's quest for oceanfront property in HB
Looking south towards The Beach Club and the Hallandale Beach Water Tower on A1A from the beach, near the Hollywood cityline, May 2, 2009 photo by South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved


"So this is where our tax dollars go to die? My friend and fellow civic activist Csaba Kulin, perhaps wondering when we're FINALLY going to get the clean and inviting public beach that Hallandale Beach residents believe we're entitled to but have never received under Mayor Cooper and her Rubber Stamp Crew. Instead, we get rusty pipes in the middle of the beach and garbage cans on the beach -without lids- at the windiest place in the entire city. And a public building across the street from the beach that the public can't use for free but which city employees can -for their holiday parties." Click photo to see many more photos of the site and the original post. Or, go to http://hallandalebeachblog.blogspot.com/2012/06/latest-info-photos-re-related-groups.html

Entering Broward County, May 8, 2008

Entering Broward County, May 8, 2008
The original header photo on this blog - Entering Broward County, 2008. Gulfstream Park Race Track in center, and over on State Road A1A, the Diplomat Residences and Westin Diplomat Resort and Spa in Hollywood, and the three towers of The Beach Club in HB. BEFORE there was a Village at Gulfstream Park retail complex. May 8, 2008 photo by South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved

It's long past time to put the BEACH back in Hallandale Beach

It's long past time to put the BEACH back in Hallandale Beach
For there ever to be a successful balance between business, town, and nature in Hallandale Beach, big changes will be necessary. Late afternoon, North Beach, Hallandale Beach, FL, February 10, 2012 photo by South Beach Hoosier. © 2012 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved. While it might look nice and inviting from afar, the sad and galling reality for far too many Hallandale Beach residents who want to enjoy their public beaches, is that in the ten years under Mayor Joy Cooper and her Rubber Stamp Crew at City Hall, the city's highly-paid top bureaucrats and the city's ineffective Dept. of Public Works, the public beaches have been consistently neglected and poorly-maintained for MANY, MANY YEARS. In fact, there are several places at the beach where it's self-evident to even the casual observer that the city is NOT even in compliance with its own rules or ordinances -or even state laws- and hasn't been since I moved here in late 2003. To say nothing of showing initiative or common sense there. Yet despite the fact that the beach is an invaluable resource and the reason that many people have consciously chosen to live in Hallandale Beach instead of somewhere else in south Florida, Mayor Cooper and 3/4ths of the City Commission -and those bureaucrats- have chosen to squander time, energy and large sums of money on one terrible idea after another elsewhere in the city because of either personal connections or their push for the furtherance of crony capitalism, rather than in making the investment in making the public beaches cleaner, more attractive and more interesting for residents and guests alike. More recently, in her role as head of the Florida League of Cities, Mayor Cooper has neglected the city even more than usual, as she has flitted from one part of the state to another, acting like a Queen Bee. Believe me, the people she meets in other Florida cities in that FLC capacity have no earthly idea of what a poor job she has done for years by any sort of objective measure. In my opinion, in the year 2012, after all the dozens of fact-filled and photo-filled posts I've posted here documenting the deteriorating conditions of the city's public beaches, it's long past time to not only put the BEACH back in Hallandale, but to put genuine oversight and meaningful financial accountability to taxpayers in it as well. The citizens of this beach-side city deserve MUCH BETTER than they get with regard to beach maintenance and overall attractiveness. Ask yourself a question: If a well-managed but land-locked city like Coral Springs had a beach this size, what would it look like and how would it be managed? Now compare that image in your head with the current reality of ours under Mayor Joy Cooper. 'Nuff said!

Political Actions Speak Louder Than Words: Lies of Mayor Joy Cooper and City Manager Mike Good

Political Actions Speak Louder Than Words: Lies of Mayor Joy Cooper and City Manager Mike Good
March 3, 2009 photo by South Beach Hoosier, just days before the Air Supply concert on the beach, as Hallandale Beach DPW employees try to make the area "appear" to be well-maintained -when in reality, it's not- and thus fool HB taxpayers and visitors alike. This building underneath the city's iconic Water Tower, just steps from both the Atlantic Ocean and State Road A1A, was turned over to the City of Hallandale Beach on August 3rd, 2007, and yet as of September 2012, remains OFF-LIMITS to everyday HB citizens, taxpayers and residents, the true "owners" of the building, TWO YEARS later. There has STILL not been a single public open forum held by the city to gauge how citizens want to utilize it best. Instead, the building remains a veritable clubhouse for the cronies and pals of HB City Hall's elected officials and employees. And need I ask YET again, where's the American flag on the city flagpole next to the fountain? Once again, HB City Hall shows their gross incompetency by being unable to manage something as simple as keeping a flag flying. Pathetic! © 2012 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved

A fish rots from the head down, and so does local government in Broward County, FL

A fish rots from the head down, and so does local government in Broward County, FL
A fish rots from the head down, and so does local government in Broward County, FL. This sign on U.S.-1 and S.E. 5th Street, across from Gulfstream Park Racing and Casino, lets you know that you're just feet away from the HB City Hall and Police Department. It's a government that gives every impression of holding itself apart and above from the citizens it's supposed to serve. The crazy thing is, they really don't think they have to follow the laws that govern everyone else in the state of Florida and the U.S., whether of logic and reason, contracts, or, more to the point for this blog, the Florida Statutes on Sunshine Laws and Public Records. City employees in Hallandale Beach routinely refuse to answer reasonable questions posed to them by residents, and often berate you for even having the nerve to ask! One of the other things that's quite shocking is the blatant disregard by the HB Police Dept. and Fire Dept. for basic safety rules. Common sense rules of behavior that are in place in every other American town, no matter how small or obscure. City employees -and friends of theirs- routinely park "their cars" directly in front of the building's east entrance, often for hours at a time. That's right, I said for HOURS at a time. While in every other town you'd find a clearly posted sign saying simply: "No Parking, Fire Zone, Cars Will be Towed," in HB, there are NO signs at all. I have personally observed parked HB city vehicles there that have prevented the HB Fire & Rescue vehicles from getting as close as necessary to the building. I've personally spoken to the individual members of Fire & Rescue after such incidents, and they were positively indignant that they are forced to put up with this sort of thing in the Year 2008. Oh, and one last thing. The lights that are supposed to illuminate this sign in front of HB City Hall HAVEN'T worked in over FOUR YEARS, either. Just like their cousin down the block on U.S.-1 at the city border with Aventura. I've told this to dozens of HB city officials, including the Mayor, City Manager, his staff, the Police Chief, a Police Captain, et al. None of them have done a thing, which is why as late as October 24. 2008, the sign was STILL dark at night! Four-and-a-half-years of nothing but darkness! Sundown, March 3, 2009 photo by South Beach Hoosier. © 2012 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved

Approaching Hallandale Beach sign on U.S.-1/South Federal Hwy.

Approaching Hallandale Beach sign on U.S.-1/South Federal Hwy.
So, CAN you see the sign welcoming you into the City of Hallandale Beach? Judge for yourself. It's between the 3rd and 4th tree. Original photo here was taken January 2007; this one taken May 8, 2008; photo by South Beach Hoosier.

City of Hallandale Beach, City of Choice

City of Hallandale Beach, City of Choice
Hallandale Beach, City of Choice. The monument sign that greets northbound drivers on U.S.-1/South Federal Hwy. at the gateway into the city as they leave the City of Aventura and Miami-Dade County in the rear window, on one of the three main streets into Hallandale Beach. Unfortunately, it's the perfect metaphor for the City of Hallandale Beach and its elected officials and employees the past 8 years: myopic and lacking in common sense. This sign, five blocks south of City Hall, was originally placed so far west on the median strip -and practically BEHIND a palm tree- that drivers actually COULDN'T actually read it even if they wanted to. In any case, because of the city's longtime gross incompetency, negligence and lack of appropriate oversight, the spotlights that were supposed to illuminate the sign at night HAVEN'T worked since about mid-January of 2004. Which is to say, yes, MUCH LONGER than the U.S.'s involvement in WW II. Welcome to the City of Hallandale Beach! Begin heavy traffic, chronic red tape and mis-adventures in government! My original photo here on the blog of this situation was taken January 2007; this one was taken May 8, 2008; photo by South Beach Hoosier. The three palm trees that had been in front of it on the median that obstructed it for so long have come and gone, with the result that for a few years you couldn't help but notice that it DIDN'T work! In February of 2009, in order to make room for a southbound left-turning lane at S.E. 5th Street into The Village of Gulfstream retail complex, the 'invisible' sign was removed and placed farther north on the media. For more than a year, despite a solar panel nearby, there were no actual light fixtures present! As of January 24, 2013, if you can believe this, with a new expensive street-lighting project along the median of U.S.-1 finally finished, where recently-planted trees now have lights shining on branches -as if that meant anything- guess what? Despite another nearby solar unit, there are STILL zero actual light fixtures pointed at the sign! ZERO! Correct, all these years and tax dollars later, the City of Hallandale Beach is STILL unable to figure out how to light this sign on the busiest street in the city at its southern gateway. Yet another sign of the ruinous reign of Mayor Joy Cooper. No attention to detail! © 2012 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved

Entering Hallandale Beach at night on U.S.-1/Federal Highway

Entering Hallandale Beach at night on U.S.-1/Federal Highway
Is that any better? May 11, 2008 photo by South Beach Hoosier.

Hallandale Beach STILL in the dark -FOUR years later!

Hallandale Beach STILL in the dark -FOUR years later!
You can only see this HB sign on U.S.-1 in the photo because of my camera's flash; May 11, 2008 photo by South Beach Hoosier.