Final Post
September 10, 2013, 4:37 PM
Filed under: Uncategorized

After more than nine years of vigilance trained on Hollywood City Hall, the Balance Sheet is closing down.  It’s not that there’s no longer a need for citizen watchdogging.  Indeed this need remains as great as ever. We have confidence that sooner or later someone will follow in the Balance Sheet’s footsteps with a new and better blog to help residents keep informed about key city issues.  A good place to start would be the high fees Hollywood charges for water and sewer service and the city’s long-time practice of annually diverting millions of dollars of our water/sewer fees to other city uses. Until someone decides to launch a new blog, however, Hollywood residents who make an effort to keep themselves informed can help to keep the city on track.  That’s where you come in.

But first, since we’ve decided now to move on to other pursuits, it’s perhaps worth recounting what prompted us to spend as much time as we have in studying and reporting on city hall doings. Will Watman, Laurie Schecter, and Sara Case started the Balance Sheet in 2004 after a City Commission election that kept in place long-time incumbents whose ideas for Hollywood sharply diverged from ours.

We have always envisioned Hollywood as a unique, healthy, family-friendly beachfront city with our many historic buildings refurbished for new uses. We wanted government that would meet the needs of Hollywood’s existing residents, and support the city’s multicultural and economic diversity. We wanted to preserve our environmental treasures that contribute so much to the city’s unique character. At the time, our elected officials wanted demolition for big box retail and upscale condo towers with the stated goal of attracting new, wealthy residents to replace the existing population.

The 2008 city election brought a City Commission more in tune with our hopes for Hollywood, but the economic crisis overshadowed almost everything as time went on.  We don’t know yet how the 2012 City Commission will take shape. With three new Commissioners staking out positions, it is not yet clear what the future holds. Will the Commission coalesce around policies that recognize the city’s unique strengths?  Will they understand the value of Hollywood’s diversity and support it?  We don’t know, but there’s definitely a role for you in steering Hollywood toward success.  We urge you to pay attention to proposals that will be coming to the city commission for a decision before any decision is made.  It’s too late if you don’t know what’s happening until after the commission has already voted.

Informed residents who care are an essential part of successful government and unfortunately newspapers (and TV) are no longer covering the day-to-day issues that confront our elected officials.  Each of you has ideas about the kind of city you’d like Hollywood to be. As most of you know, the City Commission meets twice a month (on the first and third Wednesdays) and their agenda is posted online the Friday before each meeting.  You can sign up on the city’s Notify Me web page to receive an e-mail link to each agenda as it becomes available.   Take the time to scan the agenda and check out items that seem to have significant impact so you can communicate with the elected officials before they vote.  In addition, keep in close touch with your neighborhood civic association so you can help shape the positions and actions it takes.

We have found our time spent with the Balance Sheet rewarding and our efforts from time to time successful in nudging city government in a better direction — the reason we embarked on this adventure in the first place. Our hope now is that residents from all the city’s neighborhoods will stay focused on the common good, keep informed, and be vocal. A successful Hollywood requires no less.


My most sincere wishes for the very finest life has to offer! Thanks so much for all you have done for Hollywood! You WILL be sorely missed! Kathy DiBona 954 665 1709

Comment by Kathleen Drabik-DiBona

On this sad day, where we memorize our fallen fellow citizens, it ads to the somber thoughts to read the final post of the balance sheet. To read the words FINAL POST certainly feels like the end of an era.
The balance sheet has been a very valuable, highly informational asset for the residents of Hollywood over all these years. Thank You Laurie and Sara. And all the best to Sara and Nancy in your future hometown.
And as we hope for resilience in America, we are hopeful that all your hard work will continue to shine as an example and keep Hollywood’s residents motivated to create and maintain a great place to live.
A sincere Thank You.

Comment by Christian Mulack

Such a loss for Hollywood – The Balance Sheet was an incredible gift to our citizens. I shall miss it… Thank you for your hard work – it is truly appreciated… Penny Johns

Comment by Penny Johns

Your leaving Hollywood will create an immense void. It is hard to measure the positive contributions that you have made. We all wish you well in your new location and life.

Mel pollak

Comment by Mel Pollak

thank you for all you have done, we will all miss you

Comment by daniel koehler

It is truly a loss, and last gong for Citizen Awareness in Hollywood with the loss of each of you associated with the Balance Sheet. Thank you for your diligence, research, stance on important issues, keeping us updated on the City’s affairs – all of them – and mostly for being a friend to the citizens of Hollywood. You stood up when others shrank away, and laid out the facts as clearly as they could possible be shown. Harmony, unfortunately, is not a norm in Hollywood, so although it was never reached, you made our City a better place by all your hard work and vigilance.
Thank you all: Laurie and Sara for all you have done.
We are Sorry that Sara and Nancy are leaving us, but hope that Laurie will stay involved.
Again, Thank you for everything, and good luck!

Comment by Linda Wilson

Still round the corner there may wait, A new road or a secret gate.
J. R. R. Tolkien

Hollywood and its residents will miss your contributions to our community. We won’t forget your legacy. Safe travels, and keep us in your thoughts.

Comment by Estelle Loewenstein

Will miss the insights and comments of Hollywood residents. Thanks for all you have done over the years to shape ideas and the debate of those ideas.

Comment by Rosemary Sabino

Our loss. Wishing you the best.

Comment by Suzanne Kincaid

Thank you Balance Sheet for ringing the bell of citizen awareness and for your promotion of civic activisim here in Hollywood. Best of luck to you in your future endeavors.

Comment by Matthew Gouthro

Thank you for all you did for the citizens of Hollywood, whether they were always aware of your efforts or not. Those of us more actively involved appreciate your dedication to keeping Hollywood one of the best places in South Florida to live.
You will be greatly missed.
Mardi Podesta, HHCA

Comment by Mardi Podesta

You will be sorely missed! Thank you for all you have contributed to our community…and all the best to you on your next adventure.

Comment by Lynn Cantrell

Thank you for the years of careful research, excellent commentary and valuable contributions to the City and its residents. We’re losing a great resource, and I hope someone will take up the challenge. It’s always needed because a representative democracy requires it.

I for one shall truly miss the Balance Sheet.

Comment by Charlotte Greenbarg

Thank you for what you have done to keep Hollywood citizens knowledgable. Good luck in your new endeavors.

Comment by Dodie Weinstein

Thank you for all your dedicated work and enthusiasm. While we may not have always agreed on everything, your articles were always exceptionally insightful, well written, and thought-provoking. Hollywood will definitely miss your services.

Comment by Ed Holodak

Thank you for your dedication and hard work these past 9 years.

Comment by A Grateful Resident

Comments are closed.