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.