Saturday, May 31, 2008
Up 'till now, I've largely resisted the urge, but today, I thought this one might actually be of enough interest to you all to make posting it worthwhile, so that you might learn what I've learned about some Florida government agencies that are part of the planning process governing transit, but which rather than taking a pro-active approach and being an example of good management -aren't.
It's an excerpt of an email to Gabriel Lopez-Bernal over at Transit Miami, one of the most influential blogs in South Florida for a reason, even if I don't necessarily share their political viewpoint on an everyday basis. But even when I disagree with what they say, there's usually something to be learned.
Started this email last weekend but decided to wait 'till after Memorial Day to send it along.
Earlier this week, I watched the WGN-TV noon newscast and saw their up-close camera shots of the CTA derailment the same day it happened, and also saw how damn impressive the neighborhood Chicago Fire/EMT response was -one minute.
People living in the immediate neighborhood said that in riding the El the day before the accident, the track seemed "loose" in the same exact spot as where the derailment took place. Can't vouch for whether that's a fact or someone saying something provocative to get attention.
(Temps were in the mid-50's, so unlikely a joint/heat expansion problem.)
The top CTA administrators are really angry because this is the third one since April 21st, and it occurred while the CTA is waiting to hear how much money the state legislature in Springfield is going to give the CTA.
Saturday May 30th, 2008
From my perspective, long story short of this latest Minneapolis Star-Tribune account of policy and process under a legal microscope after a disaster: there but for the grace of God goes the Sunshine State.
I strongly suggest you run a link to this story at your Transit Miami blog so that folks around the state, with an interest in transit and public policy, might be able to read this for themselves and imagine how this'd be handled here.
Frankly, though I've written about transit issues, esp. as they apply to Broward County and the SFECC, as well as the Broward County Charter Review Comm., it just seems a much more natural fit for your blog than mine at South Beach Hoosier or Hallandale Beach Blog.
The insightful Star-Tribune reader comment below about the DFL-friendly law firm being brought in by the MN state legislature to try to undermine NTSB results, sounds 100% plausible to some savvy, politically-connected Dem friends of mine up there, who are rarely wrong about this sort of thing. (As opposed to their sports analysis and predictions!)
Maybe it's just me, playing the role of cynic, but I can totally picture both Dan Gelber and Steve Geller trying pull something like that off here, too, perhaps with Ron L. Book involved for good measure, too.
You know him, he likes to be a 'party' to everything important -sometimes against even himself.
Just something to think about.
(Also, in case you've forgotten, the Republican Nat'l. Convention will be at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul the first week of September, exactly one week after the DNC is held in Denver.
Do per the article below, expect a spate of stories on the 35 W bridge come August, right after the Olympics in Beijing.)
As I mentioned to you recently when you gave me a call, in the near future, I'm planning on querying the FDOT Secretary, Stephanie Kopelousos, and find out whether or not she's EVER planning on being somewhere in South Florida where citizens, esp. those with an interest in transit, like you and me, can actually ask her some non-softball questions, rather than the sort of convivial industry forums, govt. official-only chat fests or ASCE events that her agency seems to prefer.
For instance, take a look at what I found when I checked the archives of the Gold Coast Chapter of the Institute of Transportation Engineers at http://www.itegoldcoast.org/events.html
Curious what you'd find when you go to the link at the bottom, titled, The State of Transportation in Broward County? I was.
(The URL is http://www.itegoldcoast.org/PDF/ASCE-FES.pdf in case the link below is dead when you go to it.)
Answer: An invitation to their New Year's Eve Italian Dinner Party!
On January 12th.
To her credit, in a new and very fair-minded Florida Trend profile of her by Cynthia Barnett, Kopelousos claims that she's anxious to change the way things are done at FDOT, and bring them firmly into the 21st century.
(But the article also points out her weaknesses, the most obvious being her non-engineering background, which, apparently, has always been a predicate for the top FDOT job.)
Those positive qualities notwithstanding, where's the proof that this is resulting in any tangible positive changes for South Florida? http://floridatrend.com/article.asp?aID=49017
While I appreciate that more than most state agencies, FDOT is, necessarily, decentralized, in my opinion, despite her short tenure and clear aptitude for hard work and long hours, given the sheer amount of hard work that's required down here, I think she's got a lot to answer for. Not least of all, being practically M.I.A. for South Floridians like you and me -and the folks who read our blog posts, here and around the state.
So where's the interaction with taxpayers who aren't engineers and public officials?
(As it happens, I think I actually ran into Kopelousos a few times while I was up in Washington and she was working for the late Rep. Tillie Fowler, whom I always found to be a real straight shooter, just like Rep. Charles Bennett had been earlier for the Jacksonville area when I moved to DC. http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/cebennett.htm )
The other day, largely as a result of the foolish actions in Miami regarding the Miami River, and the common sense of the Charles Lewis commentary, If the Miami River is really dead, why do the bridges go up? http://www.miamitodaynews.com/news/080522/story-viewpoint.shtml
After reading that, I decided it was about time I made plans to attend the next meeting of the South Florida Regional Planning Council. http://www.sfrpc.com/
Well, turns out that it's Monday at their Hollywood HQ.
So naturally I was curious if they'd put up an agenda for Monday on their website, since the meeting was Monday, the next day they were open.
Maybe get familiar with any staff reports in pdf., so I can better follow the proceedings while I'm there.
Do I really even have to tell you that when I pulled up the web page that was supposed to have agendas, it was largely blank. (At least as seen on my computer.)
Or that their website itself seems like it was put together by not-too-bright ninth-graders?
Call me old-fashioned, Gabriel, but that's really NOT my idea of proper planning.
It's also NOT my idea of wisely spending taxpayer dollars, either.
Trust me, I'll make a point of mentioning all these things at the meeting.
MnDOT missed opportunities to note bridge flaws, study finds
By Mike Kaszuba, Star Tribune
May 21, 2008
Reader comments are at:
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
As I note near the top of South Beach Hoosier, since the day I started it:
"And 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 Hickory basketball team before the title game against South Bend Central in Hoosiers, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0091217/
Late tonight, at 3 a.m., TCM is airing one of my favorite films of his,1975's Three Days of the Condor http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title.jsp?stid=4274
"A CIA researcher uncovers top secret information and finds himself marked for death," with Robert Redford, Faye Dunaway and Cliff Robertson.
Please also see John Young's remembrance of Pollack at Variety:
Sydney Pollack dies at 73, Multihyphenate won Oscar for 'Out of Africa'
http://www.variety.com/VR1117986467.html and Variety's video retrospective at:
excerpt from South Bend Star-Tribune http://www.southbendtribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080526/Ent/16035212/1038/Ent
Renowned director Pollack dies at 73, Hollywood icon grew up in South Bend, graduated from Central High School.
"...Pollack graduated from South Bend Central High School, where he developed a love of drama. Throughout his long career, he credited his director at Central High, the late James Lewis Casaday, for making an artistic life beyond his blue-collar town seem possible.
Instead of going to college, Pollack moved to New York and enrolled at the Neighborhood Playhouse School of Theater. He studied there for two years under Sanford Meisner, who was in charge of its acting department, and remained for five more as Meisner’s assistant. He also served 21 months in the U.S. Army.
After appearing in a handful of Broadway productions in the 1950s, Pollack turned his eye to directing. Before settling into the film industry, Pollack directed television series, including “Ben Casey” and “The Fugitive.”
Although Pollack has no relatives still living in South Bend, he occasionally visited the area.
“I didn’t dislike South Bend,” Pollack said in a 2002 Tribune interview. “I understand that it’s gotten much more culturally oriented. At the time I was there, there was really nothing outside of what Mr. Casaday did. “I want people to see things the way I did when I was a kid growing up watching movies,” Pollack said just prior to a 1977 trip to South Bend. Pollack was the guest of honor at the Indiana premier of his film “Bobby Deerfield” as part of the 1977 grand opening festivities for Century Center..."
Saturday, May 24, 2008
It was the second D-1 Semifinal game of the night, following Northwestern's impressive 16-8 win over Syracuse earlier in the evening, which I caught the tail end of. Northwestern clearly deserves to be ranked number one in the country based on the three Wildcat games on TV I've seen so far this year on ESPNU.
Plus it clearly helps recruiting a bit when you win the NCAAs three years in a row and are marching towards your fourth!
I really wish NU's beautiful and cozy lacrosse stadium in Evanston, near the northern part of campus, right off Lake Michigan had been there when I was living there.
Though I could be wrong, I think it's actually located right where I used to sit at a picnic table writing colorful and impassioned letters to my friends around the country in those pre-email days of the mid-'80's, right when Kellogg (KGSM) was named by the Wall Street Journal as the #1 Business School in the country.
Those were heady days in Evanston, what with Kellogg's new found notoriety, plus the town of Evanston having recently consented to a McDonald's within township limits, but with strict provisos included, like bistro tables each with a small flower arrangement instead of the regular McDonald's tables, and NO take-out allowed.
The off-duty Chicago cops they had work there were guys with muscles on top of muscles = no funny business.
It was great to be able to go there late on a Friday night/Saturday morning with friends and not worry about somebody coming into the place and causing a scene.
During the timeouts/halftime and commercial breaks of the Penn-Duke match, I went down a number on my remote control to ESPNU and caught bits and pieces of the California-Florida NCAA Super-regional Softball tourney being hosted in Gainesville.
Having so recently heard and read so much nonsense in the area when the BCS schools met at the Westin Diplomat three weeks ago to discuss, among other things, a BCS football playoff taking too much out of the kids and them missing too much school, I heard the ESPNU commentators say that because the Cal Golden Bears don't really have a home field, per se -which is weird to contemplate- they played something like 53 of their 68 season games on the road, though obviously, most of those were games in Cali or the Left Coast.
To demonstrate that the Bears weren't afraid of playing the top-seeded Gators in Gainesville, someone even dropped a knowledge nugget that Cal's been on the road for the past four weeks. Four weeks!
Isn't someone afraid of how much the travel will take out of them and how much classroom instruction they'll miss? Guess not.
And yet those lil' factoids weren't the ones that really left me slack-jawed Friday night, something South Beach Hoosier rarely if ever is, absent the sight of one of his longtime favorites, like, well, you know who I mean.
Because of the rain situation in the Gainesville area, one of the commentators said that it was important that they get that game -Game #1 of the tourney- played and out of the way, otherwise, should all the games be washed out, Florida advances based on being the highest seed.
That being the case, in retrospect, I guess it was a good thing that the Ga. Tech basketball arena was available during the SEC basketball tourney when the tornado hit downtown Atlanta a few weeks back and caused damage to the arena where the SEC tourney was being held, so Dennis Felton's Georgia Bulldogs could show such great heart and spirit in playing and beating Arkansas, lest Arkansas have advanced due to their being the higher ranked.
For highlights of the two Semifinals, see http://www.cstv.com/sports/w-lacros/cs-w-lacros-body.html and http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/more/05/23/womens.lacrosse.ap/
Saturday the 24th at Noon on CSTV is encore telecast of Women's Semifinal game #1, Syracuse-Northwestern.
Following that game at 2 p.m. is the repeat of Women's Semifinal game #2, Penn-Duke
The way the Quakers kept their cool and came from behind to win in the second overtime on Rachel Manson's goal to beat a very talented -more talented?- Duke team was pretty damn impressive.
It was certainly not something we've seen the likes of in South Florida for quite some time, given the general ineptness of the Dolphins, Hurricanes and Heat the past two years, with few gut-check wins against very good teams to their credit.
That said, it's hard to see how Northwestern's larger and faster team won't be at quite an advantage when they play for the title on Sunday night at Stade Johnny U.
But I'll be watching anyway, hoping for a close game thru three-quarters of the match.
At that point, it's all about sheer talent and physicality.
Sunday May 25th on CSTV from 7-9 p.m. is the Women's championship game between #1 Northwestern and Penn.
The Quakers beat the Wildcats earlier this season to give them their only loss and also stop their thirty-SOMETHING match winning streak.
And didn't Michael Steadman meet Hope at Penn?
Familiar path Northwestern lacrosse
Bowen's 6 goals put NU back in title match
By Philip Hersh, Tribune reporter
May 24, 2008
Saturday at Noon down the dial at Channel 209, ESPN2, the Men's Semifinals from Gillette Stadium in Foxborough begin. http://sports.espn.go.com/ncaa/espnu/index
ESPN's excellent lacrosse analyst Quint Kessenich, the former Johns Hopkins goalkeeper, comments on the NCAA tourney so far:
Lacrosse Magazine's analysis and predictions: http://laxmagazine.cstv.com/sports/m-lacros/uslx-m-lacros-body.html and http://laxmagazine.cstv.com/sports/m-lacros/spec-rel/052308aaf.html
Game # 1, from Noon-2 p.m. is #3 Syracuse vs. #2 Virginia, featuring two Orange-crazy teams.
ESPN's Meredith Galante's analysis of the rematch of the Konica Minolta Faceoff Classic game up at Ravens Stadium, where 11 weeks ago, I watched on ESPN as UVA prevailed 14-13, is here: http://blogs.insidelacrosse.com/2008/05/23/ncaa-semifinals-preview-syracuse-vs-virginia/
Game #2 at 2:30 p.m. is the big one, #1 Duke against defending NCAA champ and #5 seed
Johns Hopkins. I've seen the Blue Jays play about as often as I've seen the Northwestern Women's team, on ESPN, ESPNU as well as on MASN, the Mid Atlantic Sports network.
MASN, i.e. the Orioles and the Washington Nationals Channel created for the financial benefit of Orioles owner Peter Angelos, is where I watch Tom Davis and Phil Wood every Saturday morning give me the lowdown on what's what baseball-wise in the Baltimore-DC area.
See analysis of Blue Devil-Blue Jay game by John Driscoll at
In case you didn't notice it above, both Duke and Syracuse had the unique distinction of having both their Mens and Women's team make the NCAA Lacrosse Semifinals.
That's damn impressive and something that I wish that IU or the U-M could do that in a sport I cared about, instead of, in the U-M's case, having a Women's athletic program that's light years behind Duke, North Carolina, Maryland and Wake Forest just in the ACC.
More often than not, those four schools annually compete for a national title in either basketball, field hockey, soccer or lacrosse.
A future post here will examine why that's so, and even worse, if possible, why print and TV sports reporters/columnists in South Florida never mention the feebleness of the U-M
Sorry, individual titles in tennis, while nice, in Audra Cohen's case, don't compensate for being sorry and mediocre in so many team sports, especially when good men's teams had to go buh-bye to make way for Title IX.
Is it too much to hope that they'd be more than mediocre?
Maybe even be entertaining?
Not that it'll affect my rooting interests, but one of my friends back in DC played on the Duke lacrosse team in the early 1980's.
Still, nobody from IU can ever root for Duke.
It's just not done.
My oldest niece's high school in Maryland, Glenelg, just won the Maryland state lacrosse title in both Boys and Girls this past week for their division.
For Glenelg, Perfect EndingsBoys Finish Unbeaten; Girls Are Champs, Too
By Jeff Nelson
Special to The Washington Post
May 21, 2008
Since she'll be going to college this fall back in the state I used to live in, Virginia, I'm going to predict a UVA-Johns Hopkins Mens final on Monday afternoon.
That'll be on ESPN from 1-3:30 p.m.
FSU president: College football playoff inevitable
Posted on Fri, May. 16, 2008
By JAIME ARON
AP Sports Writer
GRAPEVINE, Texas -- Here's a ray of hope for college football fans bummed by the recent rejection of the plus-one model to determine a national champion.
The president of Florida State not only believes a playoff is coming, he thinks it'll start with four teams, then grow to eight and eventually 16.
"The bottom line is the money, unfortunately, is going to drive the train," FSU's T.K. Wetherell said. "The 12th game, right now, is solving the problem. The reason there is a 12th game in football is the money. People may not want to admit that, but that's the facts of the matter."
Wetherell's comments came Friday at the National Football Forum, during a panel discussion of the future of college football. He spoke after the playoff concept was pretty much rejected by Ohio State coach Jim Tressel, Washington coach Ty Willingham, Kansas coach Mark Mangino, TCU coach Gary Patterson, Notre Dame athletic director Kevin White and Army athletic director Kevin Anderson.
"Who is it for?" Willingham asked.
Tressel emphasized scheduling problems that would be taxing for players physically and for their studies. Mangino talked about changes spoiling the fun of bowls.
"If you go to a championship, there's first and second and that's it," Anderson said, a theme Patterson touched on, too, by noting the current system produced 32 bowl winners.
"We have a tournament - it starts the first week in September," White said.
Grant Teaff, executive director of the American Football Coaches Association, spoke up, too, crediting the BCS for record levels of attendance and television ratings.
Getting his say at the very end, Wetherell turned the discussion upside down.
"In my judgment, if you take every argument that's been made today and apply it to any other sport on a college campus, then you'd have to cancel the (College) World Series, the Final Four, the soccer tournament," he said. "If you want to do it, it can be done. ...
"Everybody's going to be sitting here - I don't know, probably not in my lifetime at Florida State - saying, 'You know, we really could move this back. And, by the way, we do play 63 baseball games and we play baseball through two final-exam periods, not one. Somehow, they all seem to graduate and do pretty good. Oh, those basketball players, we have a real problems with academics in basketball, but we seem to play right on through the tournament.'"
Once the problems are solved and the "ungodly amount of money that it will produce" starts rolling in, Wetherell expects everyone decide it's a good thing and want more of it.
"It'll start off with plus-one, then it'll go to four or eight or 16 at some point in time - just like the NCAA (basketball) tournament," he said.
Commissioners from the Bowl Championship Series leagues, plus White, met in Florida two weeks ago and opted to keep their national champion format the same at least until the 2014 season. In doing so, they rejected the plus-one model, which essentially is a four-team playoff. The No. 1 team would face No. 4 and Nos. 2 and 3 would meet, then both winners would square off in a championship game.
Only the Southeastern Conference - whose commissioner, Mike Slive, presented the plus-one plan - and the Atlantic Coast Conference, which includes Florida State, even wanted to keep talking about the new format.
According to Wetherell, schools are happy to stick with the status quo because budgets are padded with money from the 12th game, which was added for the 2006 season.
"We'll spend all that money. We're not going to bank it," Wetherell said. "Then the question will be, 'Where do I get me more money?'"
A playoff will be the logical alternative, Wetherell said.
"And the fight won't be over whether we do it or not anymore," he said during a break following the session. "The fight's going to be on the split. It's going to be a totally different discussion."
Wetherell, who played receiver at Florida State in the 1960s with Bobby Bowden as his position coach, closed his remarks with this prediction: "Now, I don't think it's going to happen this year or next year or whenever. But it is going to happen. No doubt about it."
Let's Talk This Over
Open discussions needed on plus-one model and potential playoff
April 30, 2008
By Trev Alberts
Special to CSTV.com
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
You know, a credible Plan B?
Central Florida Political Pulse
Trial lawyers and the CSX saga revisited
posted by Aaron Deslatte on May 20, 2008
When Sen. Paula Dockery needed friends to help derail Central Florida's commuter-rail deal, she did something once unthinkable for a Republican legislator: She appealed to the state's trial lawyers.
Dockery was up against a political dream team. Central Florida supporters of commuter rail and Jacksonville-based CSX Corp. had public-relations firms in Tallahassee, Orlando and Tampa. The city of Orlando employed uber-lobbyists Southern Strategy Group.
And two powerful legislators -- Senate Majority Leader Daniel Webster of Winter Garden and Rep. Dean Cannon of Winter Park, in line to be speaker in 2010 -- were leading the charge.
"I couldn't fight them all off. They were attacking from every single angle," said Dockery, who opposed the deal because it meant more freight trains running through her home city of Lakeland.
So Dockery seized on a little-noticed element of the $650 million deal...
For the rest of this story go to:
More from Deslatte on the above story along with some great graphics -and reporting of the sort that you never saw on this issue on local South Florida TV:
Cash & Threats: How trial lawyers wielded new power to help block commuter rail at http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/state/orl-csx2008may20,0,1130274.story
Prior Orlando Sentinel stories on the Central Florida commuter rail plan are at: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/state/orl-commuterrail-sg,0,3785419.storygallery
and well worth checking out if you're at all interested in mass transit in Florida. _______________________________________
Also see this story on the SFECC:
Treasure Coast planners all aboard plan to draw passenger train service
By Derek Simmonsen
April 19, 2008
Monday, May 19, 2008
ABC News Nightline did an interesting segment on Anthony Pellicano and his practices back on April 4th, and yet didn't even mention the conviction in passing last night.
It seems like everyone in the national media is groggy/jet-lagged/sleepwalking, and already on summer vacation judging by their attention span.
Locally, I guarantee that nothing about the Ben Kuehne story will be mentioned by South Florida media over the weekend.
The Miami Herald has run nothing on the Kuehne situation since April 19th.
If you didn't already know it, Julie Kay of the South Florida Daily Business Review is easily one of the top ten reporters in South Florida.
Yet, sadly most people have never heard of her, even while Channel 10's Dwight Lauderdale, who is retiring next week after 32 years at WPLG, is being given huzzahs and props for simply staying put so long.
Nice guy to be sure, but nobody can point to any actual reporting he's done in eons that's made a tangible difference.
I say that as someone who grew-up down here with him and the late Ann Bishop at Channel 10, when they had the number one news program in the state -by far!_______________________________________________
Defamer gets it just right!
Remembering Anthony Pellicano: The End is as Good as it Gets
New York Observer
Vanity Fair's Burrough: 'Everyone in Hollywood Got an Advance Copy of That Article'
by Matt Haber
April 7, 2008
Los Angeles Times
Private eye to the stars is guilty
By Carla Hall and Tami Abdollah
May 16, 2008
Anita Busch links Pellicano and Times
By Kevin Roderick
New York Times
Investigator to the Stars Is Convicted in Wiretaps
By David M. Halbfinger
Hollywood Private Eye Convicted in Wiretap Scheme
By Greg Risling
May 16, 2008
The National Law Journal
Miami Criminal Defense Group Rallies to Embattled Attorney's Cause
May 16, 2008
See also: http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2008/05/16/florida-bar-group-to-honor-indicted-miami-lawyer-ben-kuehne/
(I took particular note of how tenacious the UVA Cavaliers were in coming back to beat the Maryland Terps 8-7, with 31 seconds left in overtime in their quarterfinal game in Annapolis, their second game in a row won by one goal, after defeating UMBC 10-9 last weekend.
Next up for UVA, Syracuse in the Saturday 12 Noon semi-final up in Foxborough, with top-seeded Duke taking on Johns Hopkins in the 2:30 game, a rematch of the 2007 and 2005 NCAA title games, both of which the JHU Blue Jays won.
They've already sold over 40,000 tickets for next weekend's game; hope there's no rain!)
See http://sports.espn.go.com/broadband/video/videopage?videoId=3402330&categoryId=2491548&n8pe6c=3 for highlights and analysis
The story and the principle behind the Chelsea story made me recall my Hallandale Beach Blog post of March 12, 2007, below, regarding Julie Hamlin and a friend of hers campaigning for city commission votes in the U.S. Post Office branch off of Hallandale Beach Blvd. and Layne Blvd., while I was in line. If only I'd had my digital camera with me then!
Election Day picks; Julie Hamlin's campaign tactics
Hamlin went on to place third in the March 2007 Hallandale Beach City Commission race for the two seats available that went to Keith London and William Julian. London led the way with 1,077 votes, Julian placing second with 942 voyes, and Hamlin edging out Hallandale Beach native and community activist Terri Dillard for third place, 759-695.
Chelsea Clinton denied access in Vieques
The Associated Press
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- The U.S. Navy has denied Chelsea Clinton permission to campaign for her mother on a former bombing range on a small Puerto Rican island.
Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign wanted to use the land Wednesday as a setting to discussthe candidate's clean up plan for the region and call to give some areas to local residents.
But Navy spokeswoman Lt. Lara Bollinger said no one is allowed to campaign on federal property.Chelsea Clinton is making her second campaign visit to Puerto Rico in the last three weeks. The U.S. territory has 55 delegates at stake in its June 1 Democratic primary.
The Navy closed the range in Vieques in April 2003 following years of protests after two errant bombs killed a security guard.
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/