Bad Safety

May 24, 2011 Leave a comment

Something weird is going on but we’re not sure exactly what. Why are HB residents subjected to so much crap? Is it not enough that residents still have to deal with Deutsch and his shenanigans?  A recent article reporting on the continued opposition to the Ben Gamla Charter School quotes Peter Deutsch as saying that “at community meetings more speakers spoke in support of the school than against it.”  Of course, those were all the parents that got double fudge brownie points for attending and supporting his cause.

The article goes on to say “in recent months, expansion of private and charter schools has riled some neighborhoods. In Miami-Dade County, Coral Gables residents objected to the expansion of Somerset Academy charter school from 110 students to 735 students in space leased at University Baptist Church. Palmetto Bay residents objected to plans by the Palmer Trinity private school to expand from 600 students to 900-1,400 students.”

Deutsch has an agenda – that’s no secret – what’s left to see is city commission’s agenda; including but not limited to:

  • Keeping the Ben Gammies out of the neighborhood
  • The red light cameras
  • The two-way streets at NE 8th & 10th Aves

 In an article dated April 4th, Mayor Cooper sings the praises of red light cameras:

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, in the United States, 200,000 people are injured and 900 people are killed each year in motor vehicle collisions resulting from a motor vehicle driver violating a red-light traffic signal.

The first of the many interesting things about this article is that the original report states:  “ …a total of 815 deaths would have been prevented.”

And that, friends and neighbors, is just the beginning of the flawed math trying to make the case for red light cameras. 

We believe that the very minimum residents should receive from their elected officials is the ability to do some math and research and draw objective and logical conclusions.  Not everyone has to be a rocket scientist (like us) but at the very least, spend time gathering facts and figures before making sweeping pronouncements.

With very little research (we found it in less than 20 minutes), Mayor Cooper could have located the following problematic issues with the report she used to make her case: 

  • The IIHS report did not actually consider a single red light camera accident
  • The report itself only looked at accident numbers in fourteen out of the 500 jurisdictions that have active photo ticketing programs. Industry researchers did not even know how many red light cameras were in use in the locations studied.  (“Attempts were made to obtain historical information on the number of red light cameras in the study cities, but information on the scope of red light programs could not be obtained for many of the cities,” the IIHS study explains (page 9))
  • The results reflect citywide accident numbers, not figures at photo-enforced locations.
  • This overly simplistic method credits red light cameras with accident reductions that take place at intersections without any cameras.
  • A more complete analysis of fatal accidents performed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration concluded that “large fatality declines tended to coincide with areas that had higher increases in rates of unemployment” (view report). This is the case because unemployment takes drivers off the road in peak travel times reducing the chances of an accident. Many of the hardest hit areas economically have turned to automated enforcement to increase revenue. Moreover, studies conducted by independent researchers examining actual accident reports have found that accidents and injuries tend to increase where cameras are used (view reports).
  • The Insurance Institute represents the interests of all the major automobile insurance firms from AAA and Geico to State Farm and Allstate.   http://www.thenewspaper.com/news/33/3392.asp

The information is out there, you just have to dig for it and luckily not too far.  A recent Palm Beach Post headline read Rear-end collisions jump at red-light camera intersections in West Palm Beach and an excerpt of the article states “After scores of complaints, West Palm Beach has since offered refunds for two-thirds of its March fines. The city decided April 5 to stop enforcing slow-rolling right turns on red….When we saw the number of right-on-red citations that were being issued and the amount of money that was associated with these citations, we decided to stop issuing the right-on-red citations altogether and refund the money of those who had been cited,” city spokesman Robbins said.” 

Whoa! A city unwilling to separate residents from every dollar they have? Sadly, our Mayor is not immune to trying to separate residents from their hard earned dollars;  her article states “In today’s economy, many people are struggling to get by. A $158 ticket could make or break some families. Drivers are taking notice and obeying the law.” The bottom line being that the Mayor is willing to break a family for $158 despite not having solid proof that red light cameras contribute to public safety but because it fills the city coffers.

In fact, AAA South last year urged Governor Crist veto the red light bill because they realized it was all about money. “The fact that only 10 percent of the fine revenue is to be used for public safety and health purposes clearly shows that this legislation was more about raising money than improving traffic safety.”

Coming back to the math portion of our show, it’s our opinion that if the Mayor wants to convince us it’s about public safety, she merely has to give us proof that (all) the money generated from red light cameras in Hallandale has gone to public safety programs.  Connect the dots for us but do it better than Mark Antonio did in his “budget” meeting that didn’t contain a dollar amount for anything.  The dot connection won’t make red light cameras any more acceptable but it will show a commitment to public safety and fiscal management.

(A side note on fiscal management: it seems the Mayor has spent $1000 to get her hands on Keith London’s personal and work emails. Is her inability to get along with London affecting her judgment?)

By the way, make note that Hallandale Beach contracts with American Traffic Solutions and Goldman Sachs owns part of ATS.  You still think this is about safety? 

Speaking of public safety, WTF is going on with the Mayor, her family and police? We have never received as many forwards or head’s up about anything as we did for that. It hardly seems worth providing the links since it seems everyone already knows about this tragedy but public information and all that:

The soft price of corruption

Spit on Your Kids

Also on the subject of public safety but some other time, we’ll discuss the Mayor’s idea to narrow NE 8th & 10th Aves to a single lane for our safety.  We’re hoping that soon there will be evidence, facts and figures to support an idea that is (in our opinion and soon backed by research of our own) colossally ridiculous.

Finally, we do want to give her some props for being very vocal about making sure residents don’t serve jail time for over watering their lawns. Seriously.

We saw an email the other day that said a mayoral recall campaign would probably take us right up to the election – the better move would probably be to vote for the other guy/gal. In March, Former Mayor Alvarez was removed by an overwhelming 88% of voters. The election here is not too far away; we encourage anyone and everyone to run for mayor…and dump the other two commissioners while you’re at it.

Hallandale Supports Diversity…Right???

May 12, 2011 3 comments

We went fishing recently. Fishing isn’t for everyone; women in particular don’t seem to like dealing with chum, bait or cleaning fish; these things seem to make them squeamish. Baiting the hook, it occurred to us that Hallandale residents are like the worm on the hook and suddenly WE started feeling squeamish. Safe one moment, on the hook for something we can’t control the next.

On the trip home yesterday, we wrote a completely different post than the one you will read today. We’ll save that one for another day because the information we found in our inbox last night meant this new post almost wrote itself.

Opposition to the Ben Gamla School stems from the knowledge that this is a special interest project meant only to promote Peter Deutsch and his agenda.  There are other factors as well but we’ll stick with this one for now because it’s enough. The BGCS proposed by Deutsch is not for the benefit of the HB community as he has tried to convince people. An article by The Jewish Daily Forward entitled “A Charter for Failure” states:

“It is telling that the Hebrew charter schools seem to have made particular efforts to engage heavily secular Jewish sub-groups….Similarly, Ben Gamla’s founder, former congressman Peter Deutsch, told The New York Times that “South Florida is one of the largest Hebrew-speaking communities in the world outside Israel, so there are lots of really good reasons to try to create a program like this here.”

To HB residents and Commissioners, Deutsch claims one thing but to the New York Times, he claims another.

The article concludes “In contrast to other languages, Hebrew cannot be completely divorced from the rest of Jewish culture, in which religion is an inextricable element. Given the fact that the founders of the charters are interested in promoting Jewish identity, there is little doubt that such schools will, sooner or later, run afoul of the strictures separating religion from state in public schools.”  Read the entire article at http://www.forward.com/articles/15099/

The idea of this school as a benefit to the children of Hallandale is a joke. That anyone would pretend this school has any purpose but to serve a small and specific group is absurd.  That it should also disrupt an entire neighborhood and drain public school funds is an outrage.

Read the excerpts below from http://www.lifetech.org/hebrew-charter-schools.aspx for further confirmation.

“Under the direction of Peter Deutsch, a former 16-year United States Congressman in Florida and founder of the Ben Gamla schools, we plan on assisting Ben Gamla to open 10 locations in southern Florida, with 1,000 students at each location.  We are well underway towards meeting our goals.

We believe that Hebrew language charter schools are the future of Jewish education for non-affiliated Jews in America. We also believe a great many people in this country are interested in learning more about Hebrew language and culture.  With the Great Recession upon us, it has become increasingly unlikely that these groups will send their children to private schools when a free education awaits them in public school.

Hebrew language charter schools are the answer.  The Ben Gamla model is a proven success.  The combination of Hebrew language and Hebrew culture being taught in the schools (tuition-free) gives Jewish families and others interested in Hebrew language and culture a connection to their identity otherwise unavailable to them.  Those interested in Judaism may also pursue that interest in inexpensive after-school programs.

Relatively small initial investments in these schools are leveraged into tremendous future sources.  Once the charter school is established, the school runs, for the most part, on government funds provided per student as well as through grants that schools receive.

Read the information in its entirety at http://www.lifetech.org/hebrew-charter-schools.aspx

We know the School Board is completely in the dark about the mission and purpose of the BGCS but we hope that HB Commissioners will do what’s right for the community and the schools in it.

Private schools do not drain public school coffers but the BGCS and its mission to serve such a narrow group will drain dollars from other schools.  If you don’t think it’s about the dollars, you have another think coming (yes, that’s actually how the expression goes).

We’ll use the $6800/student in public school funds doled out each year for our calculations:

1000 students (Hollywood, Plantation & Miami Beach) = $6.8 Million /year

750 students (estimating for Pinellas, Boynton Beach & Palm Beach) = $5.1 Million /year

With only 6 schools, Deutsch’s organization is raking in close to $12 Million / year in public schools funds which would be OK if it weren’t for the fact that he has said time and again this school was created to serve one specific group.

The school in Hollywood started with 250 kids, it’s at 600 now, and they’ve requested portables in order to accommodate even more students. The Plantation School will be expanded soon and who knows what others.  Do the math.

An article in the Morning Sun written by Charles C. Haynes of the First Amendment Center points out:

“…..Catholic schools are populated mostly by non-Catholic students. When charter schools are designed to attract students of one religion, being faith-based without the faith is a much greater challenge…public schools were founded to educate youngsters of all races and creeds. Of course, parents have the right to send their children to religious or other private schools. Public schools, however, receive public support because they serve the common good – not the interests of one group.

It’s important to ask whether Hebrew and Arabic charter schools – filled with mostly Jewish and Muslim students, respectively – undermine the purpose of public schools by creating a balkanized system of public education.” Read the article in its entirety at http://www.morningsun.net/opinions/x1498356255/Religious-charter-schools-follow-the-money-lose-the-faith.

We’re starting to think HB residents aren’t the only ones on the hook – looks like city commissioners are being swallowed whole. They haven’t approved the school but it would appear that to Deutsch’s it’s a done deal.

On October 14, 2010, we posted a piece noting that BGCS proposed for Hallandale was already listed on Google Maps. Shortly after that, the listing mysteriously came down (kind of like the video we drew attention to last week). A neighbor showed us the other day that the listing is back – under a slightly different name. Conduct a search and you can find it under Charter School Ben gamia.  Yes, that’s right, it says “gamia” with an “I” not gamla with an “L”.

Is this some kind of inside joke? If it is, it’s on HB residents.

2012 is an election year. If commissioners don’t wake up, smell the coffee and do what is right for this community, VOTE THEM OUT. Anyone with a computer and internet has access to all the information we find. If your commissioners are uninformed, it’s because they don’t want to be. Get rid of them. Tell your friends to vote for whoever is not one of them. Donate money to anyone who is not one of them. Do whatever you can to get off the hook.

A final note, we spend A LOT of time researching the information sent to us and we print it along with plenty of personal opinions and always with facts and links to the research. Some comments we get and print (expletive-filled or vulgar ones that include body parts and what the writer would like to do them are deleted) and emails are only shared by request.

We got a comment on the blog from someone identifying himself as Alex Lewy. Can’t be sure it was because anyone can fake almost anything in the digital world. If it wasn’t actually him, someone should tell him his name is being co-opted. If it WAS actually him we’d like to say (1) By all means, overlook the facts and focus on some BS item (2) Heads up buddy, the correct terminology, is “motorists” not “motor vehiculists”) and (3) You missed some punctuation.  Anyway, here is the comment:

“Great job with the coherent, well written insult. “Expect Ross?” I suppose you meant “except,” but that wouldve taken some semblance or articulation to type out properly I suppose. Good job, retard.”

As usual, share this with your friends, and neighbors, thank you for doing so and thanks for all the info.

Lost in Translation

May 4, 2011 3 comments

Last week, neighbors discovered a link to a YouTube video extolling (in Hebrew) the virtues of the Ben Gamla Charter Schools:

Now, this wouldn’t be especially notable except for two things:

  1. Peter Deutsch claims the BGCS proposed for Hallandale is intended to benefit the local community
  2. The city commission will vote on this horrible idea of a project on May 18

Briefly translated, the video is about this year’s girls were telling next year’s girls about the Ben Gamla charter school. In short, the girls explain that about 85% of the students are Israeli / Jewish and that it really makes them feel at home. They also mention that since they can’t talk about religion or religious holidays outright, they just call them different names.

For example, Purim (the Jewish holiday commemorating the deliverance of Jews in ancient Persia from destruction in the wake of a plot by Haman) is called “Fun” Day and Hamantaschen (triangle cookies eaten on Purim) are called “Happy” cookies.

The girls go on to say that celebrating Hanukkah is no problem since it’s an historic event.  The girls wrap up with a summary of how the school is all about Israel and its culture.”

The video was taken down in a hurry and we don’t have to wonder why.  Deutsch and his loyal band of Ben Gammies are trying to sell Hallandale residents a line of BS that no one with a functioning brain should fall for. They took that video down because they realized it would damage their cause but the fact that it was posted at all should be ringing very loud warning bells for every Hallandale resident.

The school is a sham.

For anyone who actually cares and is willing to look at the facts, Deutsch is already on record with the Jewish Times that Ben Gamla is meant to be a solution for disenchanted and budget conscious Jewish parents:

…”Indeed, says Deutsch….very few Jews are going to put together the amount of time, money and effort to build a school where the majority of kids are not Jewish. It doesn’t deal with the fundamental challenge of the American Jewish community, that you don’t have kids getting a Jewish education.”

While there are plenty of other Hebrew schools out there, Deutsch’s detractors know he has an agenda that is exclusionary; the article points out:

“However, one charter school planner ….said he sees Ben Gamla as “an example of what not to do,” saying it serves too narrow a constituency and is too similar in approach to a Jewish day school.”

Deutsch confirms his intentions later in the same article:

“Is the vision to show you can have a Hebrew-engaged program and show the positive values of Hebrew history and culture to the general community?….But from a Jewish communal perspective, it’s not such a significant goal….If you really want to change the Jewish community, what’s so great about a gentile speaking Hebrew? It’s amazing, but not important from a Jewish communal perspective.”

At JewSchool.com, a post from April 11, 2011 titled “The Price of Jew$chool” states:

…”we’re talking about the ever-skyrocketing expense of sending children to Jewish day school in the U.S….A recent Huffington post article, also lamenting the current tuition crisis among orthodox Jewish day school, concurs: there is no end in sight.  One emerging ‘alternative’ mentioned in the article is the new wave of Hebrew Charter schools opening across the U.S.… and the Ben Gamla Charter school in Hollywood, FL, which offer one possible compromise, by offering Hebrew language instruction without the formal religious studies curriculum which serves as the backbone of traditional day school education….all for free. 

Others, especially in the orthodox community, argue that such charter schools, without the ritual, theological, and life cycle components which are the hallmarks of Jewish day school education, will not properly educate and socialise Jewish students seeking a “Jewish” education.  Furthermore, as public schools, these schools are technically open to any student, regardless of ethnic and/or religious background; many of these schools accept students via a lottery system”    Hmm…we don’t think they mean this in a good way.

An article at www.forward.com focused on the burden of making Jewish Day Schools bearable:

“Yet another alternative looks to fully utilize the public school system. Particularly in densely populated upper-middle-class communities, the burden of the public school system is already being paid for by the local homeowners. It is a service that is paid for but not at all utilized by the home-owning Orthodox community.” Read more: http://www.forward.com/articles/8540/#ixzz1LKijq5wT

A neighbor told us that if the city commission does not approve the BGCS application, the city could possibly be sued, to which we say, do what’s right for the neighborhood and take that chance.  Hallandale Beach residents will not benefit from this school; the demographics do not support that claim, nor do the statements made by Deutsch while he’s busy sucking up to the writers at Jewish Times Magazine.

Elections are coming up next year – hold your commissioners accountable when they don’t make decisions in the best interests of the community – VOTE THEM OUT.  The Ben Gamla School is purely a special interest; even if the school board couldn’t see it, we should at least be able to hold out some hope that city commissioners can see through the veil of manipulation.

Hallandale Beach has WAY too much traffic, congestion and other infrastructure issues to deal with without considering the additional burden this school will bring to the neighborhood.  Don’t expect commissioners to look at the facts and make an informed and education decision – contact them and let them know you do not want this school. And if they ignore you, dump them.

As usual, many thanks for forwarding to friends and neighbors.

Credit Where Credit Is Due

April 26, 2011 Leave a comment

Disclaimer: We have no idea what happened at the 4/20 Commission meeting.….

Here’s the thing…we’ve got another think coming. We actively believed former City Manager Mike Goode was inherently lame but now that we’ve had a look-see at City Manager Mark Antonio’s Performance Self Evaluation Report, we understand that these guys don’t stand a chance. This guy has to put out “a list of accomplishments” and essentially issues a plea for feedback from the city commission.  As long as The Commission doesn’t give him any clear instruction, he’ll have to take the heat on his own whenever the metaphorical lynch mob forms – despite at least trying to get it right.

Despite Mr. Antonio’s list of accomplishments being about as nebulous as Mike Goode’s list of accomplishments, we still want to send him a shout out for taking some initiative.

We hope that (1) commissioners actually read it and (2) that they realized the reason they outspend other cities with smaller populations and similar needs is that they haven’t got a clue and better get one right quick.

Yes, friends and neighbors, if the city commission read through that document and didn’t realize ASAP that laundry list of accomplishments is really just a job description, then not only will Antonio probably run out of town just like Goode was but residents are more screwed than previously thought. We’ve abbreviated the bullets but you can read them in their entirety here:

http://www.hallandalebeachfl.gov/files/2011-04-20/Staff%20Reports/00006683.htm

  • Staff researched the possibility of updating the City’s Ordinance requiring condominiums to install generators to make it consistent with state statute and to provide financial   relief …

Umm…Wouldn’t it BE staff’s job to research making ordinances consistent with state statutes?

  • During the FY11 Budget Process, staff was directed to implement a Capacity Building Program to assist in the sustainability of community partners…

Errr…WHAT????

  • To continue to encourage a sense of community and diversity within the City, and to encourage volunteerism and participation in the City’s programs, coordinated the Community Visioning Workshop…

Comedian Chris Rock has this whole standup routine about people wanting credit for doing what they’re supposed to do. Enough said.

  • During FY11 Budget process, staff was authorized to negotiate and execute an agreement for street furniture, which will assist in sustaining the Hallandale Beach Area Chamber of Commerce while providing for updated street furniture and maintenance…

So…….staff working as directed is an accomplishment?

  • Staff held a City Commission Workshop on Traffic Calming Devices, and as a result will be implementing the City Commission’s directives regarding the installation of traffic calming devices throughout the community…

How did this even MAKE it to this flaky list??

  • Completed Labor Negotiations with Police, Fire, and General Employees, resulting in improved employee morale….

And how exactly was employee morale measured? Was there a survey?

  • Holds monthly departmental meetings with each Director to provide discuss pending issues and provide directive as needed.  Hold departmental meetings with all directors to foster communication amongst colleagues…

Anyone who was managed anything without holding the occasional meeting AS PART OF GETTING THE JOB DONE contact us & we’ll mail you a Starbucks gift card

  • Coordinated and held the City Commission Visioning Session, which resulted in updated City Mission Statement and Strategic Priorities, thus giving staff and the Community a sense of direction.  Also resulting from this visioning session, the City Commission/City Manager Workshops, City Commission retreats and resident and business survey…

This would lead a person to believe Mr. Antonio is now in charge of the direction HB takes…we can work with that.

  • At the directive of the City Commission, outside auditors are conducting a Special Report on Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) activities and City Manager’s office: report is 90% complete….

So, it’s an accomplishment that OTHER people are doing something they were paid to do? Then we are ALL quite accomplished people, aren’t we?

  • With staff’s support, prepared and adopted FY11 Budget:  in preparation for said budget, held a Special CRA budget workshop and streamlined CRA budget to ensure all CRA-related programs were active and properly funded.  Per policy, continue to review budget expenditures to ensure these are completed within adopted budget….

We’re speechless…because…see, like that’s kind of your job…

As you may have surmised by now, the title of this message is tongue-in-cheek but there are plenty of nuggets in the report, have a look at them. And the next time you encounter a commissioner, make sure you ask them why they don’t give this guy some actual direction, and measurable and sustainable objectives.

That kind of thinking could lead to amazing things like actually reducing waste and doing more with less. Because kids… if you can’t measure it, you can’t tell when you’re doing better or worse!

Apparently, Antonio wasn’t given one job description task that could actually be measured for effectiveness. That’s not his fault, not by a long shot. A job that’s not tied to any tangible results? Where do we sign up???

Of course, The Commission may not have a clue how to go about it, in which case YOU’D better get yourselves a new commission.

We’re not after Antonio here (although if he’s now in charge of the city’s direction we are ALL OVER IT); we’re interested in holding the people elected to office accountable to a reasonable standard. A measurable and sustainable one….

You voted them in, vote them out. Elections are closer than you think. Encourage your friends and neighbors to run for office; after all they are the ones sending us the fodder for these posts.

And The Survey Says…

April 17, 2011 2 comments

On a scale of 1 to 5, 1 being “moderately” and 5 being “can’t contain yourself”, how excited are you to read this? Can you tell where we’re going with this? We knew you would but first, we want to commend Mr. Lewy for apparently showing some independent thought and taking the initiative at the traffic calming meeting a couple of weeks ago.  We’ve speculated that Lewy might be Cooper’s hand puppet but seeing as how he didn’t do her bidding for a change, we want to say way to go, nice to see you’ve got some stones, etc. Kudos to London & Sanders as well for doing the smart and right thing.

We were forwarded an email about a survey the city is planning and we got to thinking…WTF? We asked a HB resident and consultant who already knew about this one, what he thinks of surveys in general. He said a survey can be a useful tool as long as there are clear and measurable objectives attached to it.

Well that got us thinking…WTF does that mean for Hallandale where few things are clear and nothing is ever measured correctly?

After all, this is the city where THREE (that’s right THREE) city employees are needed to deliver the Magnets That Bear Vital City Information (MTBVCI).  Yes, we happened to see them delivering the MTBVCI; it was three employees driving around in a truck and one would saunter out to hang them on doorknobs.

On a scale of 1 to 5, 1 being “no freakin’ way” and 5 being “of course they were”, how surprised are you to discover that the MTBVCI were hung on the doors by rubber bands stapled (presumably by city employees) in the upper left hand corners?

So you understand how the thought of a city sanctioned survey might give us pause for thought.

We went back to the email letting us know about the survey in the first place and re-read it. On a scale of 1 to 5 – 1 being “not very” and 5 being “super duper”, how surprised are you that we have issues with this survey?

According to the city’s newly revamped website www.cohb.org (a welcome change, nicely done, welcome to 2008) the population during season is 49,000 and 39,471 during the off-season. The city hopes to contact 2,000 people via email or phone and receive 600 responses they can work with.

Let’s do the math:

  • 2,000 people represent 5% of the 39,471 off-season residents
  • 600 people represent 1.5% of the 39,471 off-season residents

The COHB is apparently willing to draw conclusions based on 1.5 – 5% of the population. Obviously they think 1.5 – 5% is an acceptable representation of an extremely racially, ethnically, and economically diverse city and to prove it they will shell out $37,000.  These are the people driving the bus, pay attention.

This survey is doomed. On a scale of 1 to 5, 1 being “nope”, and 5 being “we really wish you were”; do you think we’re exaggerating?

We’d like to blame the consultants, but we can’t because the buck stops with the City Commission and we expect certain things from them for crying out loud, like critical thinking.

We did some research http://www.esurveyspro.com/article-how-to-create-an-effective-survey-project-plan.aspx  and discovered that “The first step in defining your survey project is to understand its scope and importance to your organization and how the information you gather can realistically benefit your work. Survey value depends on three main factors. They are:

  • A clear definition of the decisions you need to make
  • The relative cost of making an error in those decisions
  • The amount of uncertainty the survey will reduce

This unfocused survey addresses everything under the South Florida sun. The COHB can’t figure out a cost effective way of delivering MTBVCI but we’re supposed to believe that this everything and the kitchen sink survey has a snowball’s chance in hell of being useful?

Consider the points above and then consider the survey; on a scale of 1 to 5, 1 being “nope” and 5 being “totally”, do you think the survey meets the criteria described above?

The article continues…“Based on the population about which you are drawing conclusions, the greater the level of accuracy desired and the more certain you would like to be about the inferences to be made from the sample to the entire population, the larger the number of respondents must be.” And yet, our intrepid leaders are willing to live with a sampling of less than 5% of the entire off-season population.

Is this survey is some kind of feel good tool for the commission toolbox or are they actually interested in doing something real for a change?  And to echo the sentiments of our neighbor, how come the city is unwilling to receive a report card for public servants and employees?

Harley Whatshisname suggested we give a solution to the problem so here it is: if the city wants to dabble in surveys, they ought to get comfortable with it, a trial run so to speak. In the world of surveys there is something called “pre-testing”; an issue identified by a small group of people so that the issue that needs deciding is clear. How lucky is the COHB that it no longer has to waste $37,000 trying to identify an issue, we’ve got one all ready to go: Ben Gamla. Make the survey group the residents whose lives will be miserable if commissioners approve the Ben Gamla school.

  • Survey them to discover what they are willing to do to stand with the city in fighting it.
  • Survey them for ideas about what to do with the property instead.
  • Survey them to find out how much they think the city ought to pay to buy the property and expand the adjacent park.
  • Survey them and find out if they approve of a commission willing to fight for what benefits residents and not less than 10% of students from Hallandale.
  • Survey them and find out if they think it’s OK for the city to fight if Deutsch and his incredibly entertaining lawyer sue.

On a scale of 1 to 5, 1 being “you know it” and 5 being “hell yes”, how willing are you to get rid of the commissioners that don’t serve your interests?

Anonymous…but true

March 23, 2011 3 comments

Someone asked why our blog is anonymous. The answer is that our posts are a compilation whatever residents have sent over the previous weeks.  The humor (or lack thereof) depends on who edits it.  Some residents aren’t comfortable publicly voicing their concerns (their reasons are their own) and fear reprisals but have valid points to make.  If you don’t like that it’s anonymous, don’t read the blog.

The P & Z meeting scheduled for tomorrow will focus on the BG Hebrew School. We’ve read the latest P & Z memo about the application and changes have been made but opposition is unchanged because the location is still inappropriate.

So, a la David Letterman, following are the Top 10 reasons the BG Hebrew School is inappropriate at 416 NE 8th Ave:

# 10: We have plenty of traffic now, thank you

We already know that converting the streets to two-way will worsen traffic and increase pedestrian and vehicular accidents. A school there will only make this worse. The report says “The concern was the correct sized facility be planned in the neighborhood so as not to deteriorate the livability of the neighborhood by the introduction of excessive traffic.”

# 9: We’re trying get back some property value

Schools adversely affect property values because they are schools, not because they don’t have pretty landscaping.  Studies show that homes right next to a school suffer more crime and decreased value so while it’s nice that Deutsch offers to plant 8 more trees than necessary, it does nothing for homeowners with undervalued homes on their hands.

# 8: Maybe the Adults need a math class

“The proposed school with 450 students should be on a parcel of land at least 6.5 acres in size. The subject site is 1.90 acres. Therefore, based on the State’s requirements, the site is not sufficient to accommodate the proposed use and is not adequate to accommodate future school expansions.”

The site, even with the proposed improvements, does not contain sufficient land area generally found in public schools and does not have sufficient recreational areas.”

# 7: We’re firmly against poisoning young children

The City reserves the right to request additional staggering of dismissal and arrival times should vehicular traffic stacking to the property spillover into the public rights-of-way and we’re sure that the car fumes the youngsters and toddlers in Sunrise Park are sure to inhale for hours at a time won’t result in any kind of lawsuit.

# 6: We say Blackberry, they say Day Timer

The P & Z folks will recommend synagogue assembly use and the charter school not operate at the same times (school hours limited from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Mondays through Fridays). We counted 16 holidays on the Jewish holiday calendar for 2011. Six of them were multi-day holidays. An overwhelming majority fall on weekdays. We see plenty of conflict on the horizon.

# 5: We’re trying to enjoy life

By approving the school, the city commission will also approve reducing our quality of life. Our time, money, peace & tranquility, and health will all be negatively affected if this school is approved. Approval of the school will confirm once and for all that the wants and desires of one man are of greater priority to the city commission than maintaining quality of life for residents in Hallandale is.

# 4: Let’s focus on Hallandale’s kids

Deutsch has stated repeatedly that HB residents will be able to draw straws to see if any of their kids can make it into the hallowed halls of Ben Gamla. But residents will stand in line to draw straws because this school has very limited appeal to the general area. It will not primarily serve local families.  Every Ben Gamla school proves the majority of children attending do not come from the immediate surrounding area.  By Deutsch’s own admission, BG schools are primarily for Jewish kids.

# 3: We’ve had enough of the flooding

NE 8th Avenue does not meet the standards for minimum pavement widths per Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) standards so the road would be increased to 24 feet in width from Hallandale Beach Boulevard to Atlantic Shores Boulevard. 24 feet in width means 4 feet less in swales on either side of the streets and less places for water absorption during rainstorms. We need more swale, not less.

# 2: Residents prefer more than the minimum all the time

Approving the school will decrease levels of service on NE 8th & 10th Aves to minimum Level of Service (LOS) and four (4) intersections will not meet the LOS at all.  Deutsch will be required to “mitigate” their traffic impact but “mitigate” doesn’t mean “eliminate”. Why is this city commission always so OK with minimum everything?

# 1: Residents don’t want it

If the city commission approves this school, it will be purely for personal reasons and not because it is in any way, shape, or form, good for the neighborhood or the students. At some point, the will of people must be heard and respected. The city commission seems determined to do the opposite of whatever is better for or preferred by the people that elected them.

If your elected representatives don’t represent you appropriately, un-elect them. Hold them accountable and take your government back.

From the Miami Herald: “Voters swept Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez out of office by a stunning margin Tuesday, capping a dramatic collapse for a politician who was given increased authority by voters four years ago to clean up much-maligned county government but was ushered out in the largest recall of a local politician in U.S. history.

The spectacular fall from power comes after two years of missteps, ranging from granting top staffers big pay hikes to construction of a publicly funded stadium for the Florida Marlins to implementation of a property-tax rate increase that outraged an electorate struggling through an ugly recession

It’s not that hard to recall a politico…recalls require citizen petitions in order to be placed on the ballot. Once the recall is on the ballot, voters are asked whether or not a particular official should be removed from office. If the recall happens, a special election is held for a replacement.

Read more: Can Citizens Remove a Politician From Office? | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/info_7788388_can-citizens-remove-politician-office.html#ixzz1HMt24q2c

It’s OK if you get hit by a car, right?

March 15, 2011 1 comment

We were told that at a recent Commission meeting, the Mayor proclaimed its “obvious” the streets must be converted. It was also obvious that (1) she didn’t care to share why it’s so obvious or (2) she doesn’t know. Either way, sucks for us. (We’re not picking on Mayor Cooper specifically; in fact, we give her credit because with the exception of Commissioner London she’s the only other person on that commission with a pulse.)

In fact, after much research, it appears like The Commission (you know, like The Cartel, only more dangerous and not as swift) exhibits so little concern for your well being that putting your life and the quality of it at risk is acceptable.  Put another way, The Commission doesn’t appear bothered by the fact that converting NE 8th & 10th Aves to two-way streets will result in more people being hit by cars (those people being you, your children, and your grandma when she visits from Montreal):

“Pedestrians particularly benefit from one-way streets. Two-way streets produced 163 percent more pedestrian accidents in Sacramento, and 100 percent more pedestrian accidents in Portland OR, Hollywood FL, and Raleigh NC. One study called one-way streets “the most effective urban counter-measure” to pedestrian accidents.” *

It is also oh-so-obvious The Commission has no qualms moving forward with a plan that will negatively impact your health and damage the environment:

“…..one-way streets were safer for both auto users and pedestrians. Finally, something that became important only after 1970, since traffic moved more smoothly, one-way streets produced less air pollution than two-way streets; frequent stops and starts are a major source of pollution.”**

Further, The Commission appears to value your time so little that it’s irrelevant how much longer it will take you to get to work:

“….one-way streets with the same number of lanes as two-way streets can move 20 to 50 percent more cars because of fewer turn delays. According to one estimate, seven lanes of a two-way street are needed to move as many vehicles as four lanes on a one-way grid because people turning left or right impose fewer delays on people behind them”. *

”One study found that converting two-way streets to one-way led to a 19-percent increase in traffic at speeds that averaged 37-percent faster. This wasn’t because the maximum speed limit on the one-way streets was any greater than on two-way streets, but because drivers experienced 60 percent fewer stops.” *

It’s just like the Hallandale City Commission to claim to want to alleviate traffic and then immediately implement a plan that will have the opposite effect. Like an SNL skit only not as funny.

Finally, it seems it would be hard for them to care less about an increase in car accidents because if they cared just a hair more, they would not be moving forward without further study at the true impact of their proposed plan.

“..Engineers reported in city after city:

• Portland found 51 percent fewer accidents at intersections and 37 percent fewer between intersections.

• The Oregon State Highway Department found that one-way streets in a dozen Oregon cities, ranging from Astoria to Eugene, led to an average of 10 percent fewer accidents and 23 percent more traffic—meaning the accident rate per million vehicle miles declined by 27 percent.

• Sacramento found 14 percent fewer accidents on streets converted to one-way operation despite a 17-percent increase in accidents in the city as a whole.”*

In addition, when The Commission talks about two-way street conversion in the same sentence as “traffic calming”, please note that they haven’t done their homework. The Institute of Transportation Engineers (www.ite.org) defines traffic calming as “changes in street alignment, installation of barriers, and other physical measures to reduce traffic speeds and/or cut-through volumes in the interest of street safety, livability and other public purposes.”

“Traffic calming measures can include: narrowing the street by reducing the number of lanes; building speed bumps or humps; adding traffic circles or roundabouts; adding raised pedestrian crosswalks; converting two-way streets to one-way streets; adding of curb extensions or “bulb-outs”.”

What this means is that The Commission will not be able to sell you this cluster as “traffic calming” because converting one-way streets to two-way doesn’t qualify as “traffic calming”.

This two-way conversion is simply CYA by the HBCC. It’s not about making the place or your life better; it’s about saying they did everything they could to alleviate the sucky traffic on HB Boulevard when someone gives them a hard time about it. Which, in and of itself, sounds innocuous enough but when presented with evidence to the contrary, The Commission never wavers in their plan and THAT’S the proof they didn’t do everything they could.

It’s good to have the strength of your convictions (God knows that’s why we spend hours on these freakin’ posts) but if your convictions are wrong, the only right to do is admit it.

If they had done everything they possibly could, reason would rule the day and not some years-old idea buried in a Master Plan they scarcely refer to. Reason (and fiscal responsibility) dictates they find another way to handle this mess.

Oh yeah, and lest we forgot, we acknowledge that people may try to speed on one-way streets more than they do on two-way streets.

“…Planners sometimes say that two-way streets are superior to one-way because they are slower. In fact, traffic speeds are independent of whether the streets are one-way or two-way and can most easily be controlled on one-way streets through the use of coordinated signals that can be set for almost any desired speed. Two-way streets suffer more delay and therefore have slower average speeds than one-way streets, but not necessarily slower top speeds.” *

This begs the question – is the possibility of less speeding actually more important than preserving human life, reducing damage to the planet and not being late for work all the time? Are you happy with Commissioners that think that trade off is OK? Do you feel good about entrusting the wellbeing of your family, home, and planet to The Commission?

We totally understand that all this traffic stuff is counter-intuitive. On paper, converting the streets to two-way might look good but that’s not good enough. The people charged with taking care of our city must care enough to research the impact of their decisions before they make them. That doesn’t mean not holding a meeting even though you were supposed to and then advising residents they have no say in the matter. Even if it was on the books from years, that still doesn’t make it a good decision.

If The Commission moves forward, that action will constitute nothing less than willful disregard for community safety or quality of life.

You know, last week we tried using logic and reason to explain why, in our opinion, the street conversion thing is just another bad idea and we were disappointed with the response.

Mayor Cooper (the only one to do so) replied to our EXTREMELY logical email. She suggested that we not to drink and drive (duh) and thanked us for sending out her letter. She also pointed out that there are one-way signs on every corner of 8th & 10th Aves and we should look at them some time (we did). Here’s what bugged us about that response email:

If she had read our email carefully, she would have noted we said our NEIGHBORS like to drink Bud’s and snack on popcorn. We haven’t had popcorn since the gastric bypass and we wouldn’t drink Bud if it were free.  Additionally, we never said there wasn’t signage on 8th & 10th Aves, we said “proper” and “ample” signage was needed.

Yes, there are one-way signs on every street. If a driver were contemplating turning right on 10th Ave. from any street, that driver would starting inching past the Stop sign (that holds a One Way sign above it) so they could look into oncoming traffic. Instinctively that driver would look up and across the street (to the right) and not see any sign that says One Way (because it’s on the opposite corner). A driver contemplating a right turn on 10th obviously doesn’t know it’s a one-way street. They wouldn’t look for signage where a driver who did know it was a one-way street would.

The point is that the sign letting you know it’s a one-way street is to the left, not to the right (and across the street) where you would naturally look. THAT’S what we meant by “proper” signage. (Do this in the reverse for 8th Ave.)

Additionally, there are only two signs on NE 8th and 10th Aves that indicate you are going the wrong way. By the time drivers see them, it may be too late.   THAT’S what we meant by “ample” signage.

The signage is not for people who already know it’s a one-way street, it’s for everyone else. Now, we realize this is all very logical and practical once you think about it so, we don’t expect The Commission to get it. This is so the rest of you can explain to Channel 4 News and the EMS guys how you got hit crossing the street.

Initially we were thrilled to receive a response from the Mayor, but she didn’t even acknowledge that we made excellent points and that is a great disappointment to us.  It was a simple post too. What can we expect when complex and complicated issues have to be addressed? Remember, aside from London, she’s the only one exhibiting any brain activity.

It’s our bet The Commission will do whatever the hell they want because they can. It is our opinion that these elected officials are not demonstrating they have your best interests in mind. Converting NE 8th & 10th Aves from one-way to two-way streets means that:

  • Accidents will go up significantly
  • Pedestrian accidents will go up dramatically
  • Traffic will crawl even more slowly than usual
  • Pollution will increase

Nevertheless, they will likely move forward with it but when you are informed that something has to be a certain way but are not given evidence to support why, you may rest assured you aren’t being told everything.  So start asking “what aren’t the Mayor & the other colluders telling?” “What’s the hurry?” “Why is there resistance to further study?” “Why is there such an unwillingness to accept reality?”

If they trot out the Master Plan as the reason, they will have to vote down the BG Hebrew School application because the Master Plan doesn’t support it.

These questions and more will probably never be answered.

So, contact your commissioners and make sure all your neighbors know their lives will soon suck even more than usual (be sure to mention they will have The Commission to thank for that).

We didn’t even cover the colossal waste of money this project is but make sure you mention it when you forward it to the news outlets & the bloggers. It’s unconscionable that The Commission would ever agree to spend over $1.5M on this unnecessary project when they could resolve the issue for less money.

You voted them in, vote them out.  Sooner, rather than later.

* http://www.i2i.org/articles/2-2005.pdf

** http://www.ti.org/vaupdate30.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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