The Lighthouse Church – Miramar

Lighthouse Church Miramar

Just five weeks old as of April 1, 2012, The Lighthouse Church, Miramar ( brings a new wave of worship to Southwest Broward with a vibrant young pastor, Eric Gamero supported by the church-building veteran pastor, Johnie Butler, both formerly of Christ the Rock Community Church in Cooper City. Both held productive and successful roles at CRCC but as in any other segment of life, growth is marked by leaving one’s comfort zone. Walking away from a hugely popular and well oiled operation at CRCC where Eric led a student ministry of 350 and Johnie served as connections/counseling pastor to start up a completely new worship center is a great example of leaving that comfort zone.

This Palm Sunday, the church hosted some 75 worshipers at the 10:00 AM service held in a double meeting room at the Hilton Garden Inn at 14501 SW 29th Street in a lively and engaging session with worship music performed by a six-piece band led by 20-year old Worship Director, Steve Villafane. A mixed group of younger and older congregants enthusiastically heard Pastor Eric’s views on Easter Week as he translated Bible verse into practical advice for living with admonitions to celebrate life, connect with others and embrace compassion. A second session at noon promised more of the same and for Easter Sunday, Lighthouse Church plans three services, adding an 8:30 AM session to the schedule.

Designed to be an active part of the Miramar community, considered to be “under-churched” by current statistics, The Lighthouse Church will have its first outreach with a “Trash Bash” on Saturday, April 7 at 11:00 AM, cleaning up Lakeshore Park near Sherman Circle. The community service promises to be the first of many connections TLC plans to make with the community in the months and years ahead. The church intends to become part of the fabric of Miramar, not merely a Sunday morning destination.

With its young pastor and band, message of community outreach, and lively contemporary services, The Lighthouse Church is a natural for anyone seeking to make a positive connection, especially the youth of Miramar and SW Broward for whom a wholesome environment of service and true fellowship in an honest and open setting can be a life changing and potentially a life saving experience.

Make no mistake – TLC has launched with a fully functional, interactive Web site, well conceived program and process and was able to hit the ground running from the first day. These folks know what they’re doing and have a real plan to make a positive change in the lives of many.

Find and engage with TLC on Facebook at

Palm Avenue Politics – 100th Avenue Project Starts May 21

UPDATE: Please be careful on 100th Avenue. Construction is well underway and the road is hazardous. It especially clips close to the exit streets on the west side and there are many undulations and bumps. Keep your speed in check and drive with care.

Yes, “Agent Orange” came through last year and took out all the nice trees on Palm Avenue in advance of a widening project that stalled and then completely stopped (see previous article). And now, when searching the Florida DOT District 4 project summary, it’s not even listed. I wrote to the contact person for D4 and we’ll see what she has to say.

OK, it’s not listed because it is a Broward Highway Construction & Engineering Division project and I’ll see if they have an update.

UPDATE from Cooper City Commissioner John Sims – the BHCED reports they expect to resume the project by the end of April.

UPDATE 5/16: Signs stating that work will begin on May 21 have been put up along with an army of little blue flags, presumably marking off new road boundaries. Looks like the folks south of 51st Street are going to have a 4-lane road just a few feet from their homes. Twenty-five years ago it was a lazy canal and a narrow two-lane street. Get ready Cooper City.

By the way, it was reported that this project will take more than a year and a half to complete. Really? In 1942 the 1,500 mile Alaska Highway was constructed under brutal conditions in just six months. All we’re asking for is about a mile of pavement while we’re young. In the meantime, we’ll live with restricted lanes, backups, dust and delays; grin and bear it.

Behind the Swinging Doors: Cooper City Area Restaurant Inspection Summaries

If you are like us, you probably eat out near where you live most of the time. With that in mind, I usually check the food safety inspection reports when I happen to see a story about the newest inspections – and wonder if any of my favorites show up. Out of curiosity, I did a summary report of Cooper City and area restaurant health inspection reports (they show about 3 years of data) and present the findings here for your review. The database is operated by the Sun-Sentinel using state inspection results.

The format of my report shows restaurant name, the highest number of critical violations in any one report, the lowest number of critical violations in any one report and the average critical violations from all reports plus total number of inspections. Now a critical violation means one thing to the state inspector and it may mean something else to you. It could be anything from a missing fire extinguisher to live roaches running around the kitchen. A larger number of critical violations that are relatively minor in scope may not be worse than a small number of critical violations that are more severe. My rule of thumb is to look for low numbers of critical violations even without knowing all the specifics and a low average number. To me, that implies a general focus on attention to cleanliness and overall food safety. High numbers could simply mean the format of the restaurant does not inspect well for whatever reason. You can and should review a particular restaurant’s reports individually to get the full scope of the violations at the link above or below.

The average number of critical violations for all restaurants reviewed (51) in the area (Cooper City and generally east to University Drive) is 4.7. For any restaurants above that number, the color is coded to a light pink/orange. For any below the average violations the color is coded to light green. The first sort is by name, the second one is by average violations, low to high. I did not include any initial (approval to open) inspections in the report or calculations as they all show zero violations.

The nearby restaurant with the lowest average critical violations is Panda Express (over by the AllPets Emporium on Stirling and University) with a stunningly low .8 average critical violations. Alfredo’s, KFC/Taco Bell, and Tijuana Flats are also doing quite well. At the high end in this list is  a tie between Bogart’s and Johnny G’s each with 13.6  average critical violations over at least five inspections. This is not to make any claims as to the particular cleanliness or safety of any one restaurant because each situation is different and the database will provide exact details on any violations and what they mean. I am simply reporting what’s out there on the record and I leave any judgment to your further analysis of the actual inspection reports and your own experience with any of these establishments. I urge you to use the database and decide for yourself.



I Buy Old Cameras & Lenses

Please check out – buyers of vintage film cameras and associated lenses. Cameras such as older Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Polaroid,  Rollei, Rolleicord/flex, Olympus and many more are being purchased. Lenses for these cameras, movie cameras and even 3D projector lenses are also sought after. If you or a relative have any laying around unused, this is a chance to turn them into cash.

End Time Tyranny An Hour Ago

Enough already. Daylight Savings Time is in effect and my reaction, as always, is, “so what”? Another week of adjusting to the stupid clock after having just done so a few months ago. And for what purpose? So youth teams can get an extra hour of practice? So we can save .5% on lighting? The few reasons to stay on this roller coaster ride of time changes is outweighed by the cost to maintain it and disruption it causes in everyone’s lives. For example, milk farmers hate it because the cows like to be on a certain schedule and when delivery deadlines are adjusted for SDST (Stupid Daylight Savings Time) it screws up the cows and adds pressure to beat the clock.

Human sleep patterns are impacted, often with negative effects  by this worn out ritual. A study by the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences in 2009 showed that upon time changes, heart attacks, suicides and calls for ambulance services soared by double digits. The Academy said that the effect was the biggest on children and elderly people, who experienced stress, sleep disorders, cardiovascular, immune and metabolism problems. Russia elected to simply stay on DST permanently and stop the madness last year.

From Science Daily: When people living in many parts of the world move their clocks forward one hour in the spring in observance of daylight saving time (DST), their bodies’ internal, daily rhythms don’t adjust with them, reports a recent study.* The finding suggests that this regular time change–practiced by a quarter of the human population–represents a significant seasonal disruption, raising the possibility that DST may have unintended effects on other aspects of human physiology, according to the researchers.

I forward a motion that the U.S. makes a decision to either stay on standard time or shift to DST and make it the new standard – and get out of this silly game of springing forward and falling back. Millions of circadian rhythms (not to mention those cows) will be thankful.

Tell Allen West (U.S. Representative District 22 including Cooper City) you wish to have him initiate or support an end to time zone changes here

Or click to find your representative

“The Human Circadian Clock’s Seasonal Adjustment Is Disrupted by Daylight Saving Time.” Publishing in Current Biology 17, 1–5, November 20, 2007. DOI 10.1016/j.cub.2007.10.025

BofA and Other Mega Banks Back Off Fees

Bank of America announced that (along with other bank’s fee reversals) they were canning the $5 debit card fee following “feedback” from customers. Ya think? Don’t worry, though, they’ll figure out another way to separate you from that money. I worked for a mega bank for some time – the revenue and margin are all they think about. It’s all about 5-6 figure (or more) bonuses for financial performance and (until lately) making stockholders happy. Your tax money bailed out their bad business practices and they got themselves legislated into making less on debit exchange fees by Walmart and the big retailers who got tired of paying a fortune to the banking industry. So you may want to investigate the Nov. 5th “moving day” and at least look into a community bank or credit union (not for profit) as a banking alternative because the fees are not going away, they’re just “moving” somewhere less visible. Perhaps you should move, too.

Oh, and by the way, BofA was just bailed out again for $500 MILLION a couple of months ago.

Landau Murphy’s America

He is Harry Chapin’s Mr. Tanner come to life but with a happy ending. Not only did his friends praise the voice that poured out from his throat, America has praised it as well, putting Landau Eugene Murphy, Jr. into the final four of NBC’s America’s Got Talent. As unlikely a rags-to-riches story as you’ll find, Landau’s journey from humble, dreadlocked car washer to rising Sinatra-esque superstar is the essence of America as we know it in our finest moments or fondest memories. In his rise, Landau reinforces a fading dream of achievement for America, yet one that can be restored, renewed and embraced by stories such as his.

His wears his humility like an unstructured jacket. It’s comfortable and fits him well. By all appearances Landau is a devoted family man and hard worker in possession of a sultry voice and mature stage demeanor. In the final vote pairing of Landau and Anna Graceman for the last slot in the AGT finals on 9/7, he was obviously distressed at the notion of stepping closer to his dream while figuratively stepping over a child. He clearly did not want to advance at her expense and it showed. Jubilation at being named to the final four was for his family and fans. Landau was humbled if not crushed by having the 11-year old from Alaska swept to one side for his benefit. He understands the heart of a hard worker and dreamer and felt the pain when a young friend’s dream came skidding to an end. In this moment, Landau taught a lesson in moderation and  humility for an increasingly greedy America to remember and embrace. Push your dream but be wary of where you step. In NBC’s dream show, more dreams are crushed than realized – something to think about amid the hysteria of Hollywood audiences.

The absolute kick in the head  is in putting Landau’s appearance next to his music. In a match game of faces and voices, Landau Eugene Murphy, Jr. would be one of the last matches made in any of a thousand random surveys, and that’s the magic of his emergence into our midst. Like Susan Boyle, another unlikely yet inspirational person-from-the-street, Landau’s rise is a thunderous slap in the face to judging by appearances and street-look bigotry. The silky, crooning voice that burst from the somewhat shaggy, toothy and rather goofy performer grabbed preconceived notions by the shoulders and shook them senseless. In 90 short seconds, Landau’s first appearance on AGT shamed every viewer while delighting every ear. The enduring lesson for America of course is to remember not to judge a book by its cover. A lesson many of us need to remember, from store clerks to airline pilots.

Does it matter now if Landau Murphy wins AGT in 2011? Probably not. The books, the made-for-TV movies, the Vegas contracts are all being inked for his consideration. Landau once belonged solely to Logan, WV but now belongs to America. Relatives, friends and scoundrels will line up to get a piece of him. One can hope that he remains grounded with his family, his faith and never loses his humility that is so rare, yet so endearing. It is and will be his protective wall for the inevitable bottom feeders that will assault his senses and attempt to pick his pockets.

The lesson for Landau and the lesson for America – keep it real, stay humble, use your talents, never stop trying and never forget to stay centered. Enjoy the view Landau, but keep one foot in Logan wherever you go.

UPDATE: 9/14

Landau brought the house down last night with a professionally delivered, soulful rendition of My Way and in doing so, set the bar high for the other three acts. Team iLLUMINATE had a strong performance though in my opnion, not up to previous showings. PopLyfe struggled through a poorly executed duo of Queen songs, virtually cementing a fourth-place result. Silhouettes again provided a stirring and emotional performance but the act is more easily envisioned at Mall of the Americas than a headlining club. My votes went to Landau and I feel it will come down to Landau and Team iLLUMINATE as the final two.

As you know by now, Landau was the clear winner of AGT for 2011. His powerful rendition of My Way carried the day over lesser competition. I was a bit surprised that Team iLLUMINATE did not place second but they’ll get their contracts as well – splendid concept, well done. The question now is, when does Landau’s first CD come out? Will it eclipse those of Jacke Evancho or Susan Boyle?

Ticket Anarchy for Jersey Boys

Received an email at 10:32 AM today from the Broward Center for the Performing Arts regarding the pre-sale (if you will) of Jersey Boys tickets and a code to use in order to buy tickets today in advance of the general public availability on the 14th. I guess it helps to be on the mailing list. Jersey Boys is one of the few shows on our list to attend so I jumped in when I saw the email at about 10:55 AM.

To my dismay, the ticket system at the Broward Center was extremely sluggish – not a good sign. After minutes of waiting I finally got to view availability for my first attempt – the first Thursday night performance, orchestra section. Other than a few remnant seats here and there it was sold out. Twenty minutes after the email was issued. How could this be, I thought. So I tried a few more nights – one week later on a Thursday. ZAP. The Tuesday before. ZAP. Where could all these orchestra tickets be less than one half hour after the “private” pre-sale announcement?

OK, the orchestra section is out. Tried the very acceptable (in fact I almost prefer it) mezzanine section and scored two seats in the first row, near center for one of the evening performances. Mystified (but suspicious) by the tortoise-slow system and lack of any orchestra seats 30 minutes after the sale was made available to a limited audience I decided to check and see what our friends at one of the major online ticket brokers had available. Viola! One hour after these supposedly limited access tickets went on sale, the friendly ticket broker had over 1,200 tickets for Jersey Boys up for sale, and coincidentally, the lowest priced seats were all exactly $90, each and every performance. Hmmm. What a coincidence. My $75 mezzanine seats were curiously priced in one case well over $200 each. Some orchestra seats were priced at nearly $300 each. And all within an hour of them being on sale – not to general public – but to the Broward Center’s subscriber list.

I checked another very popular online ticket broker site shortly thereafter. Even worse. They were offering about 1,900 tickets all apparently with an $85 minimum for nosebleed seats and upwards of $500 on the orchestra seats. Each. So it’s not a stretch of the imagination to surmise that a majority if not most of the seats for the Broward Center’s Jersey Boys performances will only be available through brokers based on these numbers, at between two and six times the face value, if not more. Given that on both online sites, the minimum prices were exactly the same for all events, could it be that the buying and reselling is an organized operation and not just a rabble of freelance resellers? I mean, this is an easy way to double, triple, quadruple (…) your money, “legally” for just a few moments of work. And it’s virtually a sure bet.

If you tried to pull this off in person at the parking lot of a Marlins or Dolphins game, you’d be arrested. Apparently if you do it online, it’s OK.

Now, anyone who waits until the tickets are available to the general public (the 14th I believe) will find  none left other than remnants and last-row upper balcony, I’m sure. Perhaps Ticketmaster will have an allocation and BCPA may be holding back some for the public release. Based on a survey of five online broker sites, thousands have already been snapped up for the secondary market. In the anarchy of ticket brokering, you are always free to spend 2 to 6 times face value on one of the ticket brokerages if other ticket pools have dried up. Or you can stay home and make these folks eat their tickets – that’s the “demand” part of supply and demand. I’m not holding my breath on that.

As for my two tickets – not for sale.

CODA: The show was great however it was not disclosed until receiving the playbill that several performances featured the “second” artist playing Frankie Valli and while fine, he did sound quite like a cross between Neil Sedaka and Gene Pitney doing a Frankie Valli impersonation. 3.5 stars overall.

Who Makes $46,000+ a Day?

BSO does, providing fire and public safety Courtesy of DavidsonScott15 on Flickrservices to Cooper City. The 2011-12 budget hit of $17M for BSO fire and public safety is more than 40% of the total city budget of $41M and works out to over $46,000 a day for BSO services. I don’t know if that’s a good price or not – we have about 30,000 citizens so I would need an expert’s insight. The per capita is about $566 for both fire and public safety and about $350 per capita for public safety alone. That may be in line for other BSO-served communities but what about comparable cities elsewhere? What was the Cooper City public safety and fire budget and percentage prior to the BSO contract? Well here’s some background:

In a 1/14/2004 article in the Sun-Sentinel, reporter Thomas Monnay wrote, “Police and fire-rescue services account for $11.51 million, or 58 percent, of the city’s $20.03 million budget.” Now, he may have been referring to just the General and Building Inspection Services Funds budget which is over $26 million for 2011-12. That would make sense. The total “all funds” budget is over $41.2 million for 2011-12. I would not believe that the city’s total budget more than doubled since 2004.

So – if Cooper City was spending $11.5 million or 58% of it’s General and Building Inspection Services Funds budget in 2004 on our own public safety and fire services, and we are now spending $17 million or 64% of the same budget on today’s BSO version, should that be considered progress? That means the cost for public safety and fire services has shot up nearly 48% in pure dollars (forget the percentage of whatever budget) in six to seven years. I understand there are built-in inflators in the BSO contract but 48%? The mayor’s quote at the time, as reported by the Sun-Sentinel was, “We’re saving you money. … Our people are going to be better off,” Fardelmann said. “It’s not a popular decision, but it’s right.”

To refresh your memory of the move to BSO, nearly universally opposed by the citizens, please read the article archive here.

So is $46,000 a day a good deal or not? I believe the BSO contract was renewed through 2014. Then what?

Dan Le Batard is Highly Questionable

Dan Le Batard is a writer for the Miami Herald and frequent guest on ESPN TV shows. Now he has his own show on ESPN2 featuring his father, Gonzalo and a very 1950’s Miami kitchen set complete with flamingo wallpaper and a vintage sink. The show is light-hearted at its core and that’s its appeal. My very first impression was that “here we go with another Rick Sanchez talk show” but I was proven wrong within the first 20 minutes. The show is endearing, mostly due to the friendly banter provided between father and son, with the personable “Papi” Le Batard providing the sweetness of a nice gentleman with quirky opinions who has quickly adapted to performing in front of a TV camera.

Connect to DLHQ on Facebook HERE.

The discussion points originate mostly from Papi reading a question (complete with his 8th Street accent) and Dan responding, frequently with the producer chiming in to comment as well. For the most part, questions are topical and address recent sports highlights, game results and individual performances. A typically lively interview segment features a popular or well known sports figure and there are almost daily cut-ins for quick Q&As with local experts such as Zoo Miami’s Ron Mcgill. There is definitely an off-the-wall component scripted into the show and that’s part of its appeal. Dan’s irreverence is metered by his father’s genuineness and relative innocence and fan-in-the-street point of view. Papi injects his own humor, apparently unscripted, which is frequently dry but usually insightful. My favorite segment is “Si o No” where Dan and dad vote Si or No regarding the watchability of programming coming up that evening. The show is entertaining as it is unlikely. The important thing is that it’s different, and different usually works. Unless of course, it’s the Rick Sanchez show.

DLIHQ appears on ESPN2 weekdays at 4 PM. To visit the Facebook page go to Dan Le Batard is Highly Questionable