Wednesday, April 23, 2008
I later found similar stories in the Herald and Sun-Sentinel, but as usual, Aaron Deslatte had more context.
In the next few days, I'll be posting some thoughts and observations on that Broward County Charter Review Commission meeting I attended two weeks ago, especially on the MTA proposal, which I spoke in favor of, recounting some anecdotes about Broward transportation
you really need to know about.
I'll also connect-the-dots on the City of Hallandale Beach's effort to prevent the proposal's adoption by the 19-member panel.
Trust me, it's more of the same classic "Only in Hallandale Beach" moments you've come to expect from the crowd at 400 S. Federal Highway, Hallandale Beach 33009.
Hometown Democracy wins a court victory
posted by Aaron Deslatte on Apr 23, 2008 10:56:29 AM
In the lingering legal fight between Hometown Democracy and the business lobby, the anti-sprawl Hometown crew finally notched a win Wednesday when the 1st District Court of Appeal ruled that a signature-petition revocation law the Legislature passed last year was unconstitutional.
After the law passed, Associated Industries of Florida formed a group called Save Our Constitution that targeted thousands of voters who signed Hometown's slow-growth amendment with mailers, asking them to revoke their support with claims that it would destroy the state's "scenic beauty."...
Go to the URL above to see the entire story and the court ruling in a pdf. format.
Reader comments are at:
State appeals court rules in favor of citizens group
April 23, 2008
An appeals court says it is unconstitutional to revoke signatures on petitions to get citizen initiatives on the ballot. The 1st District Court of Appeal decision Wednesday in Tallahassee reversed a lower court ruling. The higher court supported so-called Hometown Democracy proponents.
They seek voter approval for changes to plans laying out where new roads, homes, businesses and other development can be built. The decision rejects efforts by the Legislature and the Florida Chamber of Commerce, who have backed several new laws in recent years making it more difficult to pass initiatives. They contend such moves could limit growth and the state's economy.
A week earlier, the Sun-Sentinel was reporting:
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Legislation limiting citizen initiatives advances in House
The Associated Press
April 16, 2008
A bill that could make it harder for citizens to change the Florida Constitution using petitions has won approval from a House panel.
The bill does that in part by reducing the time signatures are valid for — two years instead of four. Also, cards with the signatures would have to be turned in within 60 days after they are signed. Right now, there is no time limit.
Gov. Charlie Crist last year vetoed a bill that would have required signatures to be turned in 30 days.
Another provision would require criminal background checks for people who get paid to collect signatures.
The bill's opponents, including Common Cause, labor unions and the League of Women Voters, argue that background checks, which can cost up to $85, and other provisions are designed to prevent average citizens from having a voice in government.
Only the wealthy and powerful would be able to afford to sponsor a petition drive, they contended.
Chamber of Commerce lobbyist Adam Babbington said background checks would enhance public safety because "this is an industry that operates in the shadows by and large."
The Chamber supports making it harder to amend the constitution.
Sen. Larcenia Bullard, D-Miami, was hoping for a rare sweet moment Tuesday in the largely bleak legislative session when she served Key lime pie at the Capitol.
"I hope it helps sweeten up the bitter session," said Bullard, who tasted one of the scores of pies available.
"Let people feel good about something."
Across Capitol meeting rooms, firefighters, corrections officers and social workers were tracking down lawmakers in efforts to save jobs and health care for thousands of children.
Lawmakers are poring over budgets passed by the House and Senate and trying to come to agreements over cuts.
"We see all these people leave here feeling so out of sorts, hopeless, like nothing's going to happen," Bullard said.
"The Key lime, I thought, would be perfect to take their minds away from that for the moment."
Reader comments are at:
__________________________________________________________________ Below are some excerpts from some older germane links about this subject.
Senate elections panel tries to undo petition-gathering ruling
posted by Aaron Deslatte on Apr 1, 2008 2:02:54 PM
A Florida Senate panel advanced a package of election-law changes Tuesday that critics said was an attempt to undermine a recent court ruling against the state regarding the way signature-petitions are gathered.
An administrative law judge in late February ruled the state Division of Elections had overstepped its authority when it tried to ban signature groups from "bundling" multiple signature-petitions together when they're presented to voters to sign.
A group called FairDistrictsFlorida.org, which is trying to make it harder for Florida lawmakers to gerrymander their legislative districts, had been circulating several petitions related to its drive to place the re-districting issue on the 2010 ballot...
Bucher and Dorworth get a timeout
posted by Aaron Deslatte on Apr 1, 2008 4:46:36 PM
In the middle of a hearing over his bill restricting the rights of felons to work as paid signature-gatherers, freshman Rep. Chris Dorworth, R-Lake Mary, was getting a grilling by veteran Democratic Rep. Susan Bucher.
The bill, a priority for business groups this year, would also require paid signature-gathers be Florida residents and cleared a Senate panel earlier in the day. But Bucher, D-West Palm Beach, wanted to know how the Department of State was supposed to police thousands of signature-gatherers across the state, who would be required to register with the state under the bill.
Dorworth said he didn't know, then told the panel he was sick, had been curled up in a ball just before the House Economic Development and Infrastructure Council meeting had started, and had been heavily medicated. "Forgive me if I pass out," he said...
This is the one from one of my other daily must-read's, the St. Petersburg Times' political blog, The Buzz. Go to the URL to see the reader comments, as they're 100% spot-on!
April 01, 2008
Targeting paid petition-gatherers
Mindful of Florida Hometown Democracy's near-miss in its slow-growth ballot initiative, business groups and their legislative allies have a new idea.
They want to require all paid initiative petition signature gatherers to pay a fee, register with the state and be assigned a registration number to appear on petition forms (volunteers would not be affected)....
It's probably my longest post to date since starting SBH last year, but I think you'll see why that's so if you closely follow the dots.
So, what's going on with Brian Bethell, the man who murdered Albert Avenaim of Aventura in Hallandale Beach -and two other innocent South Florida men- in 2006?
The Brian Bethell who turned 43 recently.
You know, the man who brought two small kids with him and his girlfriend when they decided to go on a shopping spree with the dead men's credit cards at a Coral Springs Wal-Mart, as they had done before?
The man who was caught NOT due to anything in particular the Hallandale Beach Police Dept. had done, but rather because Mr. Avenaim's family had the good sense to take the initiative and put-up fliers at the store about the suspect, along with reward information.
This was why store employees recognized Bethell when he swung back by the store.
CBS-4's excellent reporter Ted Scouten did this report on the reward on March 3, 2006
Yeah, the Hallandale Beach Police who were so concerned about the safety/conditions of the 2500 Hallandale Beach Blvd./Millennium complex for employees and visitors, that they provided evening security -from the comfort of their squad cars- for a few weeks after the murder of Mr. Avenaim.
But who, when asked, specifically, refused to say whether or not they were off-duty while they were parked in their squad cars, and when asked about all the self-evident missing, broken or obscured parking lot lights near the crime scene, acted like they couldn't quite hear you, even though you were just inches away.
This being HB, the squad cars were up near the Hallandale Beach Blvd. entrance, rather than being near the actual Avenaim murder crime scene.
(Not that their superiors higher up the chain were any more forthcoming with information, as Chief Thomas Magill and Capt. Robert Rodgers both played dumb about that whole situation after I specifically asked them about it last June.)
Yes, the Hallandale Beach Police whose concern for public safety was such that, according to Capt. Rodgers, they wouldn't specifically ask, encourage or nudge the owners of the complex towards fixing their longstanding safety/lighting problems.
As it happens, those self-evident problems are ones I've discussed at length over the past two years with a few print and TV reporters here in South Florida, and which were NOT addressed by the complex's owners until only 3-4 weeks ago.
Yes, the Hallandale Beach Police Dept. led by the still-serving Chief Thomas Magill, whom as I've chronicled here, is a man who tried to have two innocent Hallandale Beach Police officers criminally prosecuted -for something they didn't do.
According to a recent check of the rather poky Broward County Clerks Office website, http://www.clerk-17th-flcourts.org/bccoc2/pubsearch/case_summary.asp?FMCE96017183=CIV&FMCE96017183=CIV&01017198CF10A=CRM&05116917TC30A=CRM&06006136MM10A=CRM&hidCaseNumber=06003321CF10A&06003321CF10A=CRM&06005634CF10A=CRM&06003572CF10A=CRM&06005168CF10A=CRM&CACE01010726=CIV&hidSendingPage=search_results&hidCourtType=CRM&hidGeneralType=CRM&hidS=party_public&SearchT=&mscssid=&user_type=&hidPageName=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.clerk-17th-flcourts.org%2Fbccoc2%2Fpubsearch%2Fpublic_search.asp%3F&btnSummary=View+Selected+Case
Brian Bethell will FINALLY go on trial on the 28th of April.
Key Dates - Future Scheduled Events
Judge: PAUL L BACKMAN
You'd think that as the trial phase was getting closer, you'd see something about it in local media, but I've read nothing in the newspapers, seen nothing on TV, or, shocker, heard nothing about it on radio, in the South Florida of 2008, where a niche apparently exists for Mexican music, but NOT an all-news radio station.
Over the next few days, if everything goes according to schedule, I'll be cobbling together all the things that I already know and have already written about the Millennium situation -and kept in the deep freeze Draft for months- which, along with some photographs I've taken over the years, will buttress my points.
I'll post them to both Hallandale Beach Blog, and parent blog, South Beach Hoosier, too.
You can then draw your own conclusions.
Speaking of the curious lack of media curiosity down here with regards to the upcoming Bethell murder trial, below you'll find a series of emails and notes which I've put together, which, taken in toto, paints a very accurate but damning portrait of the local news media as they currently choose to practice their craft.
It also includes a bad memory for yours truly on a summer that might've been spent so much better.
What will soon follow is an excerpted copy of an email that I sent on February 8, 2008 to about a half-dozen or so Local 10 TV reporters, including Roger Lohse.
In case you don't recall the specifics of the news story under discussion below, it was Lohse's Local 10 news report on February 7th concerning the curious circumstances of the July 2007 accidental death of Myron Kafka of Hollywood, in the lobby of Millennium's HQ at 2500 Hallandale Beach Blvd. http://www.local10.com/news/13750861/detail.html
Perhaps this might help jog your memory a bit:
AROUND SOUTH FLORIDA
The Miami Herald
July 24, 2007
Miami Herald Staff Report
HALLANDALE BEACH BODY FOUND TRAPPED BETWEEN ELEVATOR, GATE
An employee at a Hallandale Beach medical office discovered the body of an 81-year-old man early Monday morning, police said. The man, identified as Myron Kafka of Hollywood, was trapped between an elevator and a metal gate. The incident happened inside the Millennium Building, 2500 E. Hallandale Beach Blvd.
The 5,000-square-foot structure houses several medical offices, authorities said. Police believe the slender man got caught between the gate and the elevator. He did not appear to be crushed, police said. "We don't know how he died or how long he has been there," said Andrew Casper, a Hallandale Beach police spokesman.
A later report from AP: http://abcnews.go.com/US/wirestory?id=3412355
Man Dies Trapped Between Elevator, GateElderly Man Dies After Becoming Trapped Between Elevator, Security Gate at Medical Building.
The Associated Press
HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla.
An elderly man died of a heart attack after he became trapped between an elevator and a security gate in a medical building, authorities said.
The death of Myron Kafka, 81, was considered accidental, Hallandale Beach spokesman Andrew Casper said.
Broward County Medical Examiner Joshua Perper said Tuesday that Kafka had been dead at least two days when staff from the building discovered his body on Monday.
Kafka was trapped in the 14-inch space between the elevator doors and a locked, illegally installed security gate, authorities said. Perper said Kafka may have been there since Friday afternoon, when he was last seen alive. According to the medical examiner's report, Kafka had been at his doctor's office, located in the building.Officials ordered the gate removed and cited the property for installing it.
Long ignored public safety problems at 2500 Hallandale Beach Blvd.; HB Police ignore problem
Friday February 8th, 2008
I would like to speak with you soon -and possibly meet with you if possible- so we can talk about some other serious public safety problems I know about concerning the 2500 Hallandale Beach Blvd./Millennium complex, the subject of Roger Lohse's Thursday night report on Local 10's 11 p.m. newscast.
They consist of some first-hand observations I initially noticed in the aftermath of the Feb. 10th, 2006 murder of Albert Avenaim of Aventura, outside of Padrino's Cuban Restaurant, in a particularly senseless death, even by South Florida's grisly standards.
See www.local10.com/news/7000578/detail.html and http://www.websleuths.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-36379.html
This Sunday will mark exactly two years since Mr. Avenaim's untimely murder.
What do you suppose has changed about the Millennium complex, safety-wise, in those two intervening years?
And if you count the responsible property owners STILL not doing the minimum to do right by the public, and I do, it's actually worse than nothing, it's negligence.
In the days after the murder, I saw some things that just didn't make any common sense, but which, to me, were self-evident signs of negligence -dare I say gross negligence?- by the property owners and management, abetted in part by the City of Hallandale Beach's own incompetence, which, typically, responded with a fig leaf, rather than employing a pro-active
approach that showed some common sense and foresight.
Frankly, I suspect most of what I know to be completely unknown to the various insurance companies that cover the myriad owners/investors of that particular property, since the insurance companies probably assume that there's no way their clients at Millennium would intentionally put people in harm's way, whether employees or patrons of the various business establishments renting space there.
Through photographs I've taken of the property since Mr. Avenaim's murder two years ago, I can show that is NOT the case.
If anything, a reasonable person might infer from the preponderance of evidence that their inaction fell far below the standard that one reasonably expects, and actually shows a callous disregard for public safety, since it's clear they haven't maintained the property in a safe manner.
As you may already know, Millennium and their various partners have some rather lofty -I say grandiose- plans to transform that property into a huge office/condo complex showplace, complete with all sorts of amenities for their tenants and the public.
And who's leading that effort?
Well, none other than garrulous State Senator Steve Geller, the FL Senate Democratic leader, and someone I'm very open about regarding as a cancer on Broward County's political system and public policy arena, as my blogs make clear.
Yes, the Steve Geller that has his office located at the HB City Hall.
(Geller is one of the individuals I hold most personally responsible for the State of Florida moving its presidential primary from March to last week, despite the perfectly predicted downside of losing all Democratic delegates to the Denver DNC this summer.)
How do I know that Geller represents Millennium?
I was one of the select few to attend a sparsely-attended public meeting that Millennium was forced to hold, in December of 2006, in HB's Cultural Center behind their City Hall.
I got there early, expecting some emotional fireworks because of the rather predictable concerns about exacerbating the already bad neighborhood traffic-flow on HBB, the completely out-of-proportion size of the plan, etc., and sat at the table next to Miami Herald reporter Jennifer Lebovich.
Once I got there and had grabbed a donut and some coffee, and returned to the table I had all to myself, my biggest thought while jotting down some thoughts in my legal pad was making sure to leave early enough so that I could get home and not miss a minute of a new episode of LOST.
I'd forgotten to program my VCR.
But then, quite unexpectedly, to my great surprise, in walked Geller and his retinue with trademark showy boisterousness, with him not waiting even two beats before continuing on a rant/harangue disparaging then-Gov.-Elect Crist in tones that would've been loud enough for everyone in the room to hear if the room had been half-full -wishful thinking- say, 150-200 people.
As it was, counting his Millennium crew and the interested public, such as it was, there were no more than 25 people in that room, so his voice was bouncing off the walls.
To be so self-absorbed as to publicly belittle Crist in front of people -and a reporter- before he'd even taken the oath of office, showed me the side of Geller I'd often read and heard about, but never seen in person for myself.
But I recognized the type, since I'd had dealings with Rahm Emanuel in Washington before he was anybody of note, per se, and he already had that insufferable attitude and ego thing down pat.
Geller's whole shtick was so over-the-top as to be farcical, and I debated back and forth in my head at the time whether I ought to dispense with pleasantries and the subject at hand, and simply drop my knowledge of what hasn't transpired at 2500 HBB on Geller and Millennium, in front of reporter Lebovich, once the presentation was over and the Q&A began in earnest.
In the end, I just didn't trust the judgment of the crowd or Lebovich's ability to synthesize the narrative and connect all the dots in a way that would get all the pertinent facts out.
Given my interests and background, and the fact that I've been to dozens of these sorts of development meetings over the years in Northern Virginia and D.C., I thought I had a pretty good idea how the evening would go.
But after listening to the sheer volume of obfuscation and mis-direction coming out of Geller's mouth, his Pooh-poohing of the patently obvious worsening traffic problems on HBB if the project was approved, as if he could wave a magic wand over them, rendering them invisible, well, it was all I could do to not ask him straight out if he and his colleagues even recognized the name of Albert Avenaim -and then go on offense.
As to the seriousness of the safety issues, this isn't just a hunch or my opinion, but rather something which I've captured with photographs over the past two years, though to their great shame and discredit, the City of Hallandale Beach's response, nothing, is almost as criminally negligent.
(Even today, weeks after the Boca Mall murders!)
I've spoken with great specificity about it with a number of people, including serious newspaper reporters as well as the Hallandale Beach Police Dept., including Capt Robert Rodgers and Police Chief Thomas Magill.
The city and Police have done nothing, and the problems I know about remain much as they did two years ago: waiting for another innocent victim.
You'll recall that Mr. Avenaim's murder was solved NOT as a result of anything the HB Police Dept. did specifically, or even BSO, but rather thru the efforts of the alert Wal-Mart employees, after the guilty party, Brian Bethell, tried to use the third of his his victim's credit cards at their Coral Springs location, which he had previously done.
You'll also recall he felt so confident, he even brought along his girlfriend and two toddlers,which, I think, tells you everything you need to know about him.
(Unlike the situation with the individual who called police per the shooting of the BSO deputy in Hollywood late last year, after driving the suspect in his car to the Pawn Shop near 441, who received a monetary reward from Crime Stoppers, I believe Channel Ten reported that the Wal-Mart employees who thought something was fishy with Brian Bethell did not get any kind of reward from Crime Stoppers.)
I myself grew-up in North Miami Beach, but spent lots of time in both Hollywood Beach and Hallandale, so I recall what it was like physically before the final capitulation to the condo canyons.
When my family moved to South Florida in the summer of 1968, when I was seven, we stayed at the small hotel next to the iconic HB water tower for 2-3 weeks, until my parents found a suitable apt. in NMB they liked.
Because of that fact, and our regular visits there over the years, I distinctly recall the way the beach in Hallandale looked then, with actual dunes of some height, and whispering pines along them.
It was so peaceful and relaxing late in the afternoon, especially on Sundays.
What's happened to that area of the public beach since then is a disgrace, with the city not even having the common sense to conduct a shadow study before approving The Beach Club project, which happened while I was still in the D.C. area.
In order to keep my sanity, though it's far from the scope I had initially envisioned or hoped for, largely because of time constraints, I actually had to start a blog once I saw how absurd, pathetic and illogical things were done at HB's City Hall, where both "rhyme" and "reason" are unknown quantities.
Honestly, I can't help think that fictional mid-'60's Sparta portrayed in In The Heat of the Night has nothing on Hallandale Beach now in the backwards department.
Though I've lived in lots of different kinds of towns of varying sizes and nature all over the country, I've never heard of a real city where city employees were and are more risk averse to doing their job properly, and management was less reluctant to see to it that they did.
Lax oversight hardly begins to describe it.
Just so you know, that's the bias I bring to this matter.
Not to laugh about it, but I literally saw another prime example just 48 hours ago, right on HBB, where you can see it within spitting distance of the HB Chamber of Commerce.
Hiding in plain sight.
Yes, the forest for the trees.
Please contact me directly when you have some time to talk about the situation.
To give you some better perspective on the above, here's an excerpt from an email I sent on February 21, 2008 and sent to some Local 10 News execs.
Subject: More proof that Channel 10 News isn't what it used to be: the latest sad example
To: "Peter Burke" email@example.com, "Michelle Solomon" firstname.lastname@example.org
Some constructive criticism, on the chance that it may do some good... but I won't hold my breath.
Two weeks ago, after watching Roger Lohse's Local 10 news report on Feb. 7th on Mr. Kafka's death alongside the lobby elevator of Millennium LLC's HQ at 2500 Hallandale Beach Blvd., a property I'm very familiar with, I tried to alert him and some of your reporters to the fact that I was aware of information that could show that there was a continuing pattern of neglect surrounding the maintenance of the Millennium property, going back to at least the time of the Albert Avenaim murder at Padrino's Cuban Cuisine two years ago -in the very same retail/office complex.
(Why yes, the very same one that State Senator Steve Geller, the FL Senate Democratic leader represents and lobbies on behalf of. Not that your news reports ever mentioned it)
As it happens, February 10th was the second anniversary of Mr. Avenaim's murder.
Sadly for you two, none of the half-dozen news reporters I emailed at Channel 10 bothered to respond to my query, despite my making it very easy for them to reach me and get the information.
I have to tell you, Mr. Burke and Ms. Solomon, even by South Florida's often shallow-end-of-the-pool news standards, that sort of jaded and apathetic response among reporters still surprises.
But it is what it is.
Frankly, the sad truth is that other than Michael Putney and Glenna Milberg, there's no compelling reason to watch your oh-so-predictable newscasts.
Not that you asked, but I've since spoken to a number of other reporters in town, print and electronic, some of whom immediately saw the facts for what they were, and were able toconnect the dots -just as I described them.
They didn't need to be asked twice.
Having photographs to buttress my points surely went a long way towards assuaging any of their doubts, yet strangely, that didn't seem to cut much slack with your own reporters.
By the way, the last time I checked, Brian Bethell, the man who murdered Mr. Avenaim and two other South Florida men two years ago, on his Friday spree killings-cum-Wal-Mart shopping sprees, was scheduled to go on trial in the not-too-distant future at the Main Broward County Courthouse in Ft. Lauderdale, with Judge Paul Backman presiding.
You might want to have someone check that out if you could tear your reporters away from their steady diet of chick lit lite/yenta-oriented botox/diet/fashion/shopping/pseudo-celeb/Idol stories.
In any case, I'll probably be there in court at first to take the measure of the jury and the D.A. to see how it all plays out.
Also, before I close, since your particular company seems to place such a high value on "relevant and engaging content," you should know that the so-called related links on your website's story, below, are nothing but Walgreens cosmetics commercials -not news!
And that's been the case for at least two weeks.
So much for any sort of quality control.
Please don't bother responding to this email, your reporters' actions(!) already speak volumes!
DBS, Hallandale Beach, FL
Lawsuit Filed After Bizarre Elevator Incident
The family of an 81-year-old man whose body was found trapped between a security gate and elevator door at a medical building in Hallandale Beach last year...Article: http://www.local10.com/news/15251505/detail.html
Despite my specific admonition not to respond, what do you suppose I received on Feb. 21st?
Yes, an email from Michelle Solomon, someone I'd heretofore never heard of before sending an email to her about my experiences with the apathetic and not-so-curious Channel 10 reporters.
Subject: RE: More proof that Channel 10 News isn't what it used to be: the latest sad example
Date: Thu, 21 Feb 2008
From: "Solomon, Michelle" email@example.com
I have sent this to our news director and general manager.
Michelle Solomon Executive Producer Local 10 Interactive www.Local10.com
WPLG WPLG-DT Miami-Fort Lauderdale
Business firstname.lastname@example.org www.ibsys.com _________________________________________
And who is Michelle Solomon?
Read this post from a Fort Myers-based blog and judge for yourself.
The title says it all.
Local10.com Miami Steals Blog Content
So, what do you think of that?
There are some other facts/bias you should know about in making up your mind about all of this media kerfuffle.
First, I sent a bcc copy of all my original correspondence to and from Channel 10, up the news food chain to the Post-Newsweek head News honcho, who is a woman based out of the ABC O&O in Detroit, WXYZ.
I've never heard back from her.
As for Channel 10 itself, I was offered a position as an intern at Channel 10 after my sophomore year at IU, the summer of 1981.
But I got screwed out of this great gig by the then-IU Telecommunications Dept. Chairman and the rules of the Dept. http://www.indiana.edu/~telecom/index.html
As it happens, the Chair back then was actually someone who knew me and my personality reasonably well, since I'd received nothing but A's in all my Telecom classes, including some taught by him, and was a hardcore contributor to back-and-forth classroom debate, which he emphasized in our small-class labs.
And by debate, I don't mean the never ending debate between female students I knew in the Dept. over who was a better role model:
a.) IU's beloved sweetheart from Indy, Jane Pauley, the lovable former Kappa Kappa Gamma, and Pol. Sci. major, then at NBC News and The Today Show, or,
b.) Louisville's very own golden girl, Diane Sawyer, who was then with CBS News and Sixty Minutes, a household name that most of my friends and classmates from the Lou-a vull area leaned towards because of their great familiarity with her.
Classmates like the ever-engaging Rita House, who usually sat right next to me in Telecom classes when my friend Gail Amster and I didn't share the same class.
Straight from memory, Rita could tell you just about everything anyone would ever want to know about Diane Sawyer's life and career.
Back before everyone could be an expert in a minute thanks to Google, that wasn't something to be trifled with.
Frankly, at the time, I think the Telecom Chair was a little surprised that someone who'd just been at IU for two years could've nabbed such a sweet gig, at the #1 local TV news operation in the whole state of Florida -and a Post-Newsweek station at that.
(This was back in the day when Channel 10, under the late Ann Bishop, regularly whipped every other local Miami TV station in sight, at both 6 and 11 p.m., regardless of whether she was doing the newscast solo, or with a co-anchor, like Dwight Lauderdale.)
Naturally, me being me, I already had some 'bright ideas' about how I'd navigate that internship position at WPLG into something better the following summer with the Post-Newsweek mother ship up in DC.
I even had some IU friends in the suburban D.C. area, also Telecom students, who told me that when the time came, if things worked out for me with Kate Graham's 15th Street Crew, at the Washington Post or over at Newsweek, perhaps I could even live with them over the summer.
Being in Washington, D.C. then -even with the oppressive summer heat- would've been heaven for me socially and professionally, plus, I'd have been able to get a first-hand view of D.C. years earlier than I actually did in 1988.
That experience might've led to my being a lot smarter about some choices I eventually made once I got to Washington, for instance, choices on where to live, and not fall for the hype about the so-called 'great living' on Capitol Hill.
Rather unexpectedly, instead of being happy for me or giving off Good Vibrations, the Chair of the Telecom Dept. played the role of 'the heavy.'
He said that the Dept.'s rules were written in such a way that only students who'd completed their Junior year could get media internships, or the credit that might attach.
I was further told that the Dept.'s reasoning was that such a rule would prevent younger students from beating Juniors in the Telecom Dept. to the punch and securing precious internships.
[Of course, the only other IU Telecom student from South Florida I knew or had even heard of was Lisa Abrell, the bright and friendly daughter of WTVJ/Channel 4's Joe Abrell, who had been the station's News Director, Director of Public Affairs, and host of a public policy show called Montage, which I had regularly watched.
In 1984 or so, he became a Dolphins VP under the Robbie family, apparently, being quite instrumental in the building of Joe Robbie Stadium.
Though Lisa and I weren't really friends, per se, since I lived up at Briscoe Quad my first two years and I think she was probably over at Forrest Quad or one of those older dorms east of the IU Library -Terra incognita for most people at Briscoe- because of our mutual interests of South Florida and Telecom, she was someone I'd say hello to and chat a bit with before or after classes we shared, or when I'd run into her on campus somewhere.
Usually, it would be about some (typically embarrassing) news story going on back in South Florida, and the two of us trying to get a bead on what was true, what was speculation and what would happen next.
I'm sure that due in part to Lisa's father's friendly and outgoing personality, the great respect people in the industry had for him, as well as the myriad contacts he had throughout the country, Lisa must've had entree and exposure to industry internships of the sort that I could only dream of.
But I could hardly begrudge her that, since it would've been foolish for her to have passed on an opportunity once she was aware of it, just because her dad was in the industry.]
While I understood the need for general Dept. guidelines, and could see how the Dept.'s idea might make sense for the Indy or Louisville markets, maybe even for Chicago, because of the sheer number of IU Telecom students living there, it made MUCH LESS sense when applied to someone like me, living a thousand miles away from Bloomington.
It's NOT exactly like I was elbowing out an army of older IU students applying for an internship at WPLG on Biscayne Boulevard.
I was fortunate in one respect, in that the Channel 10 Personnel Director at the time had enjoyed very good results with IU student interns at prior TV stations she'd been at.
But I was also very qualified for the position, the PD and I really hit it off personally, and I had a lot of impressive recomendations, so she really, really wanted me working there.
In fact, once I got the bad news, she called me and asked me to come down to the TV station so she could personally call the Chair up on the telephone and lobby/plead my case, because she could see that I'd be a great addition to 3990 Biscayne Blvd.
The same place my friend Roy Firestone had worked years before as the Noon and Weekend sports anchor.
But despite the Personnel Director's powers of persuasion, it counted for little in the end.
Unfortunately, as was so often the case at IU, a rigid adherence to unwieldy rules often counted for more than someone's actual ability and desire.
I suppose it's hardly surprising after what happened to me that summer, that I lost a lot of respect for that professor and could never look at him in quite the same way.
Once I got back to Bloomington, I had the good sense to remain civil with him, but his actions put the kibosh on what had once been our enjoyable, semi-frequent talks in the RTV hallway about current events in the media industry.
The same was true of our group talks where -with other Telecom students- we'd all walk back over to the RTV Bldg. after a Telecom class in another bldg., usually the Business Bldg.
Once I was back, I also made a concerted effort to share the particular details of that incident with other Telecom professors I was simpatico with as soon as possible, since I felt it'd come up eventually, anyhow, and I preferred they hear it from me.
But I can't deny that part of my sharing the news with them was also anger, and an attempt on my part to get these profs to drum it into the heads of the Freshman and Sophmore students in the Dept., that whatever else they may want to believe, the IU Telecom Dept. would NOT necessarily 'have their back,' even if they found themself with a great career opportunity.
Better that they know in advance.
No internship for South Beach Hoosier at Channel 10 that summer meant suddenly having to scramble at the last minute for summer jobs -plural.
Jobs that'd allow him to once again earn enough money for tuition to pay 3X's what in-state Hoosiers were paying for classes.
Monday, April 14, 2008
While the latter part of this sounds a lot like one of those problem columns for Stephen Glass at The New Republic, especially the description of the language used by the country club set, the crazy part is the description of a resident who filled the reporter's head and notebook with adjectives and anecdotes:
An aging provincial Lothario, wearing sweatpants, a T-shirt and a baseball cap over his unkempt hair, he isn't exactly thrilled about the selection.
I don't even think the New York Times begins descriptions of people as "aging Lotharios," much less, as an "aging provincial Lothario," unless they're old film actors.
And in The Times Magazine, not the paper.
Well, so far, anyway.
Perhaps I'm wrong here, but from a distance, it reads like the reporter latched onto an obliging PA voter thru which she could write a column full of the very sort of condescending stereotypes that Barack Obama has been found guilty of uttering.
Almost as if she felt it was her duty to say, people of San Francisco, I've found one of those people Obama was talking about.
Judge for yourself below.German language version of Der Spiegel is at: http://www.spiegel.de/
04/14/2008 01:24 PM
RACE IN THE RACE
Blue-Collar Distrust of Obama in the Rust Belt
By Cordula Meyer in Reading, Pennsylvania
Friday, April 11, 2008
In fact, I just watched the Greatest Show on Earth from 1952 a few weeks ago, so when the news came the other morning that Heston had died, his great authentic performance was still very fresh in my mind. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0044672/
In the TCM Private Screenings that he filmed with TCM's Robert Osborne about ten years ago, Heston makes reference to the fact that one of the best reviews he ever got was when someone -De Mille?- showed him a letter written by someone who'd really loved the film, particularly Jimmy Stewart as the clown with a secret and Betty Hutton as the strong-willed high-wire aerialist. But the letter writer said the performance he liked most was the real circus manager working with the actors -Heston's role.
He joked that when they think you're not an actor, that's when you know you've turned in a good performance. Agreed!
I especially commend two of the Heston films to you.
Khartoum, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0060588/#comment , a 1966 film that many people thought Charlton Heston deserved to win an Academy Award for and for which Ralph Richardson won a BAFTA, and Sam Peckinpah's Moby Dick-like Major Dundee from the year before. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0059418/
I remind you, too, that TCM has also re-scheduled two films by Jules Dassin, including Naked City, the terrific crime film entirely set in 1948 New York City. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0040636/
It's often seems to media maven South Beach Hoosier that it's almost impossible to go a month without some TV program doing their homage to noir -often for the flimsiest of reasons- even if we'd prefer they wouldn't.
While sometimes amusing if done with the appropriate level of both and humor and purposefulness, as was usually the case with some episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0092455/ , when Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) assumes his 1930's San Francisco detective persona in the Enterprise's Holodeck, more often than not, it's resulted in some perfectly awful faux noir in other TV programs or historic flashbacks.
That list is too long to mention here!
Like so many great films I've enjoyed, the first film of Dassin's that I ever saw was on TCM, Reunion in France, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0035250/ starring John Wayne and Joan Crawford.
Naked City is so fantastic and compelling, that the first time I saw it, the documentary style made me recall the afternoon I first saw Roberto Rossellini's Rome, Open City (Roma, città aperta) at the National Gallery of Art's film auditorium, when they had an Italian-themed film series one summer.
To see this film again is to be powerfully reminded of what noir really tastes and smells like, and I heartily recommend you get your VCR/TiVo/DVR ready to go.
South Beach Hoosier was a very devout film go-er to the NGA's film series, where I saw so many dozens of great and influential films over the years I lived in Washington, often bringing friends along to help build their film education. http://www.nga.gov/programs/film/
I'd even schedule my Oriole games that season up at Camden Yards around the better films, so that I wouldn't miss them, since so many of the French and Italian films I saw at the NGA -on great prints!- especially the New Wave films, weren't available on videotape or DVD.
That it was all FREE only made it harder to resist!
_____________________________________"We're making the following changes on Friday, April 11th to honor Charlton Heston:
Add: (All times ET)
2:30 PM Private Screenings: Charlton Heston
3:30 PM The Buccaneer (1958)
5:30 PM The Hawaiians
8:00 PM Private Screenings: Charlton Heston
9:00 PM Ben-Hur
1:00 AM Khartoum
3:30 AM Major Dundee
The schedule on April 20th is also changing to honor the great director Jules Dassin:
8:00 PM Naked City (1948)
9:45 PM Topkapi (already scheduled)
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
You also might want to consider bringing a shoe box along, so you can show all the attendees that you are one of those rare folks who can, in fact, "think outside of the box," and are not at all interested in maintaining the status quo that's clearly not working very well for anyone, most of the county's residents.
If you're thinking of attending, or, submitting questions via email, you might want to consider reading the Minutes of some recent meetings beforehand, so that you are up to speed and don't ask something that's already been "asked and answered."
Minutes of Broward County Charter Review Commission,
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
CRC homepage is at: http://www.broward.org/charter/
By the way, in case you were wondering what the hell "The Broward Workshop" was -unskilled actors pretending to be leaders- join the club.
Unflattering Sun-Sentinel editorial on them is at the bottom of page.
105 E. Davie Blvd. Suite 200, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316 Phone: (954) 462-9112
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Charter board delays decision on Broward mayor proposal
By Scott Wyman
February 28, 2008
Business executives have begun exploring a petition drive to force a vote this fall on whether to elect a mayor countywide, frustrated by waffling and inaction from a board assigned to update the Browad County charter.
The Charter Review Commission on Wednesday delayed any decision on a proposal to change the mayor's job until early April, following a pair of public hearings. The charter board has vacillated over the past two months on a countywide mayor and Wednesday's nondecision went against its own rules to craft all proposed charter changes before the hearings on March 12 and April 9.
The leaders of the business round table called the Broward Workshop expect to decide within the next week whether to begin collecting more than 65,000 signatures needed for a referendum. They worry the charter board decision will come too late for them to have time to meet the extremely difficult election rules to add the countywide mayor to the November ballot.
"I'm having a hard time understanding what is wrong with letting the electorate decide," said
George Mason, chairman of the Broward Workshop.
The proposal under debate would replace the largely ceremonial post of mayor that now rotates annually among county commissioners. The commission would be enlarged from nine to 11 members with the mayor and one other person being elected countywide.
The mayor question was the last remaining item for the charter board, which is assigned to propose changes to voters in how the county is governed.
The board has been heavily lobbied by both business leaders and county commissioners over what to do, and Wednesday's meeting was chaotic as a result.
One charter board member called in from work in a hospital emergency room. Another tried and failed to call in from a sailboat in the Caribbean. The board voted to ask the public to comment about the mayor question during the hearings, but agreed to distribute preprinted pamphlets that don't mention it.
The proposal charts a middle course between the current system and a strong mayor who would control day-to-day operations of the county. The post would have no more authority than it does today, and a professional administrator would remain in charge of county agencies. Advocates say the mayor could use the post as a bully pulpit to bring a countywide perspective to issues.
County Mayor Lois Wexler and Commissioner Ilene Lieberman accused elected mayor supporters of ignoring the county's economic realities. The county must cut spending in light of the January constitutional amendment requiring tax relief while adding two more commissioners will mean more bureaucracy.
"I'm looking for what's best for the governance of Broward County, and that's not choosing two more elected officials and all their support staff over the adequate funding of human services,"
Reader comments are at:
Your Opportunity to Express Your Views on Potential Changes to the Broward County Charter
Wednesday, April 9, 2008 at 1 p.m.
115 S. Andrews Avenue, Room 422
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301
• Creation of a Metropolitan Transit Authority
• Non-Interference in County Administration
• County Commission Meeting Rules & Voting
• Broward County Housing Council
• Broward County Regionalism Policy Statement
• Broward County Park Preservation
• Broward County Environmental Policy Statement
• Broward County Ethics Commission
• Redistricting Process
• Children’s Services Recommendation
• County Commission to provide Responsive Report to Management and Efficiency Study Committee
• One year hiatus between end of Management and Efficiency Study Committee and beginning of Charter Review Commission
• Still under consideration: Composition of Broward County Commission
Please visit www.broward.org/charter to review the proposed Charter Amendments or call
954-357-8890 to request copies of proposed amendments.
Both public hearings will be televised on participating cable stations and webcast on www.broward.org.
The Commission will accept questions via email at email@example.com.
Public input on additional topics is welcome.
The Broward County Charter provides a blueprint for the operation of a countywide government that serves all residents in Broward County.
The Charter Review Commission is created for the purpose of conducting a comprehensive study of any or all phases of County government in conformance with Article VI of the Charter of Broward County, Florida.
Broward County Charter Review Commission
115 S. Andrews Avenue-Annex B
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301
Phone: 954-357-8890 • FAX: 954-357-8889
The Lakeland Ledger
March 24, 2008
Hiding Homeless Won't Work
An editorial from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Fort Lauderdale:
Downtown Fort Lauderdale would be more pristine without homeless people sleeping on benches, picking through garbage and urinating on sidewalks. No doubt about it.
But sweeping disheveled people out of the vicinity just so restaurant customers, condo dwellers and business owners won't have to tolerate seeing them is dehumanizing. And it would only transfer destitute people from one location to another.
Don't think so? Count the number of Broward cities that have passed ordinances banning people from sleeping in cars, largely in hope of pointing homeless people somewhere else.
The issue is nothing new in Broward County, where last year there were 3,154 homeless people, 701 living on the streets, according to a survey.
While the county is far removed from its Tent City days, when the homeless lived in a makeshift shelter in front of the Broward Boulevard bus terminal, it obviously still has a long way to go.
But the solution does not lie in sweeping the homeless under the rug or locking them up for sleeping on the streets. It requires public policy to effectively deal with issues that lead to homelessness - poverty and mental illness for example - and adding more beds to shelters.
Unfortunately, business power brokers who met recently to brainstorm about how to get rid of the nomads missed an opportunity to show real leadership. Sponsored by the Urban Core Committee of the Broward Workshop, the event focused on "safety, security and quality of life," not for the homeless, but for the downtown crowd who don't want them nearby when "spending $100 for lunch," as one developer so bluntly put it.
Instead of fretting about homelessness, Broward's business leaders should use their resources and influence to help address the socioeconomic issues that lead to the problem. Homelessness is best addressed as a condition, not a crime.
Thursday, April 3, 2008
Wednesday April 2, 2008
The State of Florida's Dept. of Management Services http://www.dms.myflorida.com/
ruled decisively Monday against the boisterous and all-too-often, self-serving claims of Hallandale Beach Mayor Joy Cooper and Commissioner Dorothy Ross, who voted along with Commissioner William Julian on March 5th to deprive the city's citizens of the opportunity to serve on the Hallandale Beach Police Officers' and Firefighters Retirement Fund.
This decision follows weeks of bitterness and allegations of parochialism and plain-old selfishness against both Cooper and Ross by active duty Hallandale Beach police officers and firefighters at a series of contentious and highly combative City Commission hearings, which featured dozens of members at the night meeting in February.
What was voted on:
An Ordinance of the City of Hallandale Beach, Florida, Amending Ordinance 2004-09, The Hallandale Beach Police and Fire Pension Plan to Provide for the Authority for Two Commissioners to Serve as Members on the Police and Fire Pension Board of Trustees; Providing for Conflicts; Providing for Severability; Providing for an Effective Date (Second Reading)(City Attorney)(see backup) CAD# 002/07
After Julian's Feb. 20th swing vote against the city's first-responders led to a 3-2 decision to amend the city's charter at the first of two hearings, threats of union lawsuits against the city to reverse the decision and members seeking political payback, has animated and roiled much of HB's small political chattering class for the past two months.
The Benefits Administrator further ordered that the original language be reinstated to comply with statutory provisions and warned Mayor Cooper, "No further restrictions or conditions may be placed on these two resident appointees without jeopardizing receipt of future premium tax moneys."
While his legal advice went sour pretty fast, Tolces wasn't without his comic element, as when he said in response to a citizen's question at a hearing asking how much he was charging the city -for telling the mayor what she wanted to hear according to critics- he quipped that the information would be easy enough for someone to find out by simply filing the requisite Public Records request paperwork.
Well, we'll see about that now, won't we, since we know that at least one person will, in fact, try to ferret out that information. For history's sake.
As it happens, the DMS decision was never mentioned at Wednesday morning's regular HB City Commission meeting, which featured city commissioners recommending votes against most of the Broward County Charter Review Committee's recommendations to voters in November.
With rare exceptions, the City Commission largely belittled the efforts and political handiwork of the committee that's worked for months throughtout the state's second-largest county to bring Broward County firmly into the 21st Century, and seeks to take ethical and member districting decisions out of the hands of county commissioners.
As is so often the case at HB city hearings and forums, the agenda ran behind schedule and had the usual procedural screw-ups, as when the mayor plowed thru the agenda items and the City Clerk twice failed to remind her to seek public comment.
Miami Sun Post
Firefighters, police rail against amendment to pension board
By Claudia Boyd-Barrett
March 13, 2008
Vigorous protests from police, firefighters and concerned citizens were not enough to sway the Hallandale City Commission last week from approving an amendment that would permanently assign to commissioners two seats on the five-member Police and Fire Pension Board permanently to commissioners.
City Mayor Joy Cooper and Commissioner Dorothy Ross already sit on the board, but its governing ordinance states that city residents, rather than officials, should hold those seats.
The amendment that passed on first reading last Thursday changes that language to specify city commissioners.
Mayor Cooper defended her backing of the amendment, arguing that the pension board needed her and Ross' presence and expertise.
Vice Mayor William Julian, who also voted to pass the amendment, said having commissioners on the board helps protect the interests of citizens, whose taxes fund the pensions.
Their arguments did not sit well with the police, firefighters and some citizens gathered at the commission meeting.
"I think this stinks of impropriety," police Officer Gary McVeigh said. "It looks unethical. We're just wondering why the adamant fight for this? It makes no sense to us."
Daniel Alford, a firefighter paramedic and pension board member, told commissioners he thought the amendment resulted in a conflict of interest for Cooper and Ross because they would be more interested in looking out for taxpayers than the police and firefighters on the pension plan.
Outside the meeting, firefighter union President Jim Bunce echoed concerns that the commission was violating the city charter by passing the amendment without a public vote.
The Hallandale City Charter prohibits commissioners from holding any other office during their term and says any amendments to the charter must be approved by referendum.
Bunce said he would prefer that the pension board seats in question be given to people from the community with professional expertise.
"Out of 50,000 people in this city who could sit on this board, they're saying they're the only two that should," Bunce fumed. "They're stealing power that the public has to give them — they're just taking it!"
However, City Clerk E. Dent McGough said the city was amending an ordinance and not the charter, so it did not need a referendum vote.
Commissioners Keith London and Francine Schiller both voted against the amendment.
It was London who initially questioned the legality of Cooper and Ross sitting on the board after he learned that it is unusual in Florida for commission members to hold such positions.
He said he feared the dual office-holding would open the city to potential lawsuits.
"By having two positions filled on both the Pension Board and the City Commission, we have consolidated the decision-making to fewer people, increasing the odds of a wrong decision being made," he wrote in an e-mail.
"Our City Commission should listen to what the people want."
London said the Police Benevolent Association was threatening to sue the city if the ordinance passes a second reading.
Commissioner Julian said that the $80 million fund is currently in good standing.
March 6, 2008
Hallandale Beach commissioners on Wednesday voted to allow themselves to serve on the police and fire pension board.
The 3-2 vote angered many members of the police union who have threatened to file a lawsuit.
The union argues that city commissioners are serving two offices, which is against state law.But the city's attorney has said that as long as the city's laws allow commissioners to serve on the board there's no conflict.
Mayor Joy Cooper, Commissioner Dorothy Ross and Vice Mayor Bill Julian voted to keep Ross and Cooper on the pension board that oversees $80 million in investment funds.Commissioners Keith London and Fran Schiller voted against it.
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
March 6, 2008
Commissioners can be on pension board
Despite the threat of a lawsuit from the Broward County Police Benevolent Association, city commissioners Wednesday approved a law allowing them to serve on the city's police and fire pension board.
The decision, approved 3-2, is mostly a housekeeping change because the mayor and one commissioner already serve on the board.
Under the city's charter, the board must have one police officer, one firefighter and two residents.
Commissioners must approve the appointment of a fifth member who is chosen by the four members.
Union officials say commissioners have a conflict of interest being on the board because they represent the city's interest.
"I do not agree with [the change in the law's language]," said Officer Alex Vera, a union representative. "
The [union's] legal challenge will come unfortunately at the great expense of the city's taxpayers."
Mayor Joy Cooper and Commissioner Dorothy Ross, who have been serving on the board, voted for the change, as did Vice Mayor Bill Julian.
"I don't believe there's a conflict of interest," Julian said.
Commissioners Keith London and Fran Schiller voted against it.
Vera said the union plans to sue the city, Cooper and Ross.
POLICE AND FIRE PENSION BOARD
BATTLE BREWS OVER A BOARD PROPOSAL
If passed, a Hallandale Beach law would ban residents from serving on a pension board, but a Broward police union is threatening a lawsuit.
By Jasmine Kripalani
March 1, 2008
A Broward County police union threatened to file a lawsuit against Hallandale Beach after the city introduced a law that would ban residents from serving on the police and fire pension board.
Instead, the law would allow only commissioners to serve.
But Jeff Marano, treasurer of the Broward Police Benevolent Association, said commissioners could be violating state law by holding two offices.
"You cannot serve two masters," he said in a written statement. "How can we expect a commissioner to put pension issues first when they represent the city's interests?"
Commissioners are scheduled to take a final vote on the issue at a 10 a.m. March 5 commission meeting at City Hall, 400 S. Federal Hwy.
The city has hired an outside firm to counsel it on the issue.
"Based upon the attorney general's opinion, it allows public officials to serve on other boards if there's an ordinance that grants them that authority," David Tolces, the attorney hired by the city.
City Commissioner Dorothy Ross, who has served on the pension board for 10 years said there's nothing illegal about it.
She argues that residents lack the experience in overseeing the pension's $80 million investment fund.
"I would be concerned for new people to suddenly be placed on this board making decisions," she said.
Mayor Joy Cooper, who could not be reached for comment, published an editorial in a local newspaper that appeared Thursday.
In the South Florida Sun-Times, Cooper blamed Commissioner Keith London, who brought up the problem of dual office-holding at a commission meeting in January.
"I have been at a loss over this whole circumstance and am not sure of the commissioner's intent," she wrote.
London said his only agenda is to raise the issue before the public.
"When I went to a conference, I learned that this was not best practice throughout the Florida Retirement System," he said.
"This is not the norm, not even close to the norm. It needed to be discussed."
Miami Sun Post
Hallandale BeachBreaking the Law?
City commissioner accuses his colleagues of illegally holding two offices
By Nicole Alibayof
January 17, 2008
A Hallandale Beach city commissioner accused the mayor and one of his colleagues of breaking the law.
Commissioner Keith London raised the question last week about whether or not Mayor Joy Cooper and Commissioner Dorothy Ross can be charged with holding two offices.
Cooper and Ross sit on the city commission and the pension board of the city's police and fire departments.
City Attorney Dave Jove said technically it is not illegal, though holding two offices can be perceived as a conflict of interest.
The commission will discuss whether an amended ordinance or a special election is needed to rectify any problems at its Jan. 22 meeting.
"Certainly I don't believe there's any credibility on concerns that were raised, but I am willing to sit down and talk about the issues that were brought up," Cooper said during the Jan. 9 commission meeting.
"No shame or any bad name has ever been associated with me," Ross said.
"If they ask me to step down, fine, but no one knows more about the pension plan than me."
The pension board consists of five members, two of whom must be residents of Hallandale Beach appointed by the commission, according to the Hallandale Beach City Charter.
Currently Cooper and Ross sit as those Hallandale Beach residents.
However, another section of the city charter forbids the mayor and commissioners from holding any other position, city employment or elected public office during their terms.
Three-year contracts between the city and the police and fire unions have to come before both the commission and the pension board, giving Cooper and Ross greater leverage to negotiate them.
"If that doesn't reflect two bites out of one apple I don't know what does," London said.
The commission wants to amend that ordinance by changing the terminology to refer to elected officials serving on the pension board as ex-officio voting members.
By changing the terminology, elected officials will be allowed to serve on both the pension board and the commission, City Attorney Jove said.
Jim Bunce, union president for Hallandale firefighters, didn't think the language change would be enough.
"An ordinance cannot supersede the charter," he said.
"The charter is clear and there are prohibitions; they should amend the charter and do it right if they want it to be legal."
Bunce worked as a firefighter in Davie for 27 years.
He said the same issue was addressed in Davie and the commissioners were removed from elected office.
His argument worried some commissioners who felt that the charter might have to be amended by referendum.
Cooper, though, said it would take months to create a code to address the problem.
"My primary goal and objective is to make the pension plan successful," she said.
"I don't think you could get more experience or more efficiency than with a commissioner."
A representative for the police union disagreed.
"We are not in favor of commissioners on pension boards," said Michael Braverman, attorney and spokesman for the Police Benevolent Association.
"As the certified collective bargaining agent, it's problematic to go to the same place twice; manipulation by government skews the process."
Vice Mayor Bill Julian and Commissioner Francine Schiller proposed discussing the pension board in greater detail on Jan. 22.
"Let's see how it plays out," Jove said
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
Perhaps South Beach Hoosier should send an email or two to himself in the past about the following:
1. $50 bet on Dolphins-49ers game in 1985 Super Bowl not so smart.
2. Need to advise longtime SBH favorite Winona to curb her klepto ways, esp, in BevHills, lest she overnight become yesterday's news.
3. Put money where my mouth was in picking Marlins over Yankees in 6 games even before their NLCS victory over Cubs.
4. Really should invest my tiny fortune in Google IPO.
5. Predict that Shakespeare in Love to beat Saving Private Ryan for Oscar's Best Picture.
See http://everythingoscarblogger.blogspot.com/2007/11/youtube-clip-of-week-shakespeare-in.html and http://www.variety.com/profiles/Film/main/30635/Shakespeare+in+Love.html?dataSet=1 and http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0138097/
6. Predict that an obscure former Illinois State Senator to run even-to-slight ahead of Hillary Clinton in 2008 Dem prez nomination thru April.
7. Predict N.Y. Giants will end Pats unbeaten streak in Super Bowl.
Perfectville Population: Still 1.
See http://www.rbk.com/us/perfectville/ and http://www.patriots.com/search/index.cfm?ac=searchdetail&pid=30824&pcid=41 and http://www.babalublog.com/archives/007293.html
8. Contact FAA, warn that many passengers of Oceanic Airlines flight 815, non-stop Sydney-Los Angeles, are still alive on South Pacific island beset by strange magnetic fluctuations.
Please send help!
The South Florida I Grew Up In
Excerpts from Joan Didion's Miami, 1987, Simon & Schuster:
In the continuing opera still called, even by Cubans who have now lived the largest part of their lives in this country, el exilo, the exile, meetings at private homes in Miami Beach are seen to have consequences. The actions of individuals are seen to affect events directly. Revolutions and counter-revolutions are framed in the private sector, and the state security apparatus exists exclusively to be enlisted by one or another private player. That this particular political style, indigenous to the Caribbean and to Central America, has now been naturalized in the United States is one reason why, on the flat coastal swamps of South Florida, where the palmettos once blew over the detritus of a dozen failed booms and the hotels were boarded up six months a year, there has evolved since the early New Year's morning in 1959 when Fulgencio Batista flew for the last time out of Havana a settlement of considerable interest, not exactly an American city as American cities have until recently been understood but a tropical capital: long on rumor, short on memory, overbuilt on the chimera of runaway money and referring not to New York or Boston or Los Angeles or Atlanta but to Caracas and Mexico, to Havana and to Bogota and to Paris and Madrid. Of American cities Miami has since 1959 connected only to Washington, which is the peculiarity of both places, and increasingly the warp...
"The general wildness, the eternal labyrinths of waters and marshes, interlocked and apparently neverending; the whole surrounded by interminable swamps... Here I am then in the Floridas, thought I," John James Audobon wrote to the editor of The Monthly American Journal of Geology and Natural Science during the course of an 1831 foray in the territory then still called the Floridas. The place came first, and to touch down there is to begin to understand why at least six administations now have found South Florida so fecund a colony. I never passed through security for a flight to Miami without experiencing a certain weightlessness, the heightened wariness of having left the developed world for a more fluid atmosphere, one in which the native distrust of extreme possibilities that tended to ground the temperate United States in an obeisance to democratic institutions seemed rooted, if at all, only shallowly.
At the gate for such flights the preferred language was already Spanish. Delays were explained by weather in Panama. The very names of the scheduled destinations suggested a world in which many evangelical inclinations had historically been accomodated, many yearnings toward empire indulged...
In this mood Miami seemed not a city at all but a tale, a romance of the tropics, a kind of waking dream in which any possibility could and would be accomodated...
Hallandale Beach Blog is where I try to inject or otherwise superimpose a degree of accountability, transparency and much-needed insight onto local Broward County government and public policy issues, which I feel is sorely lacking in local media now, despite all the technological advances that have taken place since I grew-up in South Florida in the 1970's. On this blog, I concentrate my energy, enthusiasm, anger, disdain and laser-like attention primarily on the coastal cities of Aventura, Hollywood and Hallandale Beach.
IF you lived in this part of South Florida, you'd ALREADY be in stultifying traffic, be paying higher-than-necessary taxes, and be continually musing about the chronic lack of any real accountability or transparency 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, work-ethic mentality that citizens here deserve and are paying for.
This is particularly true in the town I live in, the City of Hallandale Beach, just north of Aventura and south of Hollywood. There, the Perfect Storm of years of apathy, incompetency and cronyism are all too readily apparent.
It's a city with tremendous potential because of its terrific location and weather, yet its citizens have become numb to its outrages and screw-ups after years of the worst kind of chronic mismanagement and lack of foresight. On a daily basis, they wake up and see the same old problems again that have never being adequately resolved by the city in a logical and responsible fashion. Instead the city government either closes their eyes and hopes you'll forget the problem, or kicks them -once again- further down the road.
I used to ask myself, and not at all rhetorically, "Where are all the enterprising young reporters who want to show 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.
Someone who wanted questions answered in a honest and forthright fashion that citizens have the right to expect.
Hallandale Beach Blog intends to be a catalyst for positive change. http://www.hallandalebeachblog.blogspot.com/