Thursday, August 21, 2014

Miami Herald publisher Alexandra Villoch is big on customer service

You'd think that after more than 110 years in business, the one thing the Miami Herald would have figured out by now is how to deliver a newspaper!

But here's what a self-described "committed subscriber" posted on Facebook very early Wednesday morning.  At 9:15, Herald publisher Alex Villoch comes to the rescue.

Ironically, later in the afternoon, Villoch appeared on a news segment on CBS4 and made this promise to the half dozen or so people in South Florida who still get the Herald delivered, "your newspaper will be there on time tomorrow morning.”

Who says print is dead?

Maybe spotty delivery is the reason they're able to offer six months of the Sunday paper for only 9 bucks.

Maybe you'll get it, and maybe you won't.

I need your help

If you like what I do here, and you'd like to see it continue, then I could really use your help. I hope you'll consider making a donation to help keep this blog going.

Just click on the Paypal "donate" button at the top of the right-hand column and follow the instructions.

Thank you for your support and continued readership.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Fabi Watch: a guest column

This morning, in what may be one of the most intellectually disingenuous columns the Miami Herald has ever printed in its 100 plus years of history, staff writer Fabiola Santiago takes the "Ray Allen Seven" to the woodshed for a stern tongue lashing.

"These brats need a hard lesson," reads the headline over her column.

"The case holds up a mirror — and what one sees is troubling: What kind of society raises college-bound 18-year-olds who think that it’s okay to break into someone’s house because it looks empty and they’re “curious” about how a basketball player lives?" Fabi asks rhetorically.

I have a better question, Fabi: At what point in your upbringing did your parents teach you that it was OK to screw your boss in order to get a promotion?

But I digress.

This morning I asked a friend to take a look at the column. This was the response: "Honestly, I couldn't get through it. You don't often see "skewed" and "slew" in the same place. Drawing global conclusions from a single incident. The mark of an idiot."

And about an hour ago, filmmaker - and friend - Billy Corben, shared some thoughts on the column on his Facebook page. (For those who don't know, Billy has lots of opinions.)

One of Billy's Facebook friends responded with this comment: "Her writing just isn't captivating. Her leads are awkward and sometimes vague. I have problems understanding her points and find myself having to re-read her columns just to comprehend its coherency." (Hmm, I thought I was the only one who felt that way.)

I asked Billy for permission to publish his post on the blog, and he said yes.

America's (and Cuba's) worst columnist lumbers back onto her sanctimonious and hypocritical soapbox: With all the corruption and dysfunction in South Florida, the Miami Herald pays Fabiola Santiago to beat up on kids?

I guess she's never made a mistake before. I mean, other than that time she had an affair with her editor and got a promotion over more experienced and qualified colleagues.

Regardless, she thinks the teens who broke into Ray Allen's house should have their lives derailed over a (very) stupid mistake; much like the rude, drug-addicted teen who mouthed off to an equally obnoxious judge last year. 
She demands that any and all dissenters who stray from her arbitrary ideological whims should be tossed into prison. Fidel much? 
In the Allen matter, the state attorney's office made a difficult, but appropriate charging decision (initially, anyway) -- the same office who I do not recall Santiago ever taking to task for never charging a police officer for an on-duty shooting, despite a Justice Department investigation calling them out for it. 
Of all the people in this town who “need to learn a lesson,” this is the best she can do? She should pick on somebody her own size. 
Until then, as long as she continues punching down, I'll keep punching down at her. 
Shame on Jay Ducassi, Mindy Marques Gonzalez and Rick Hirsch for continuing to publish and squandering their limited resources on her bile. 
She contributes nothing journalistically or intellectually to our community conversation and is an embarrassment to your paper. 
Perhaps you should ship her back to the front line as your Miami vs. Tampa "Cuban Sandwich War" correspondent.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Stay classy, Will

Local 10 sports director Will Manso is today's Social Media Misfit.

Manso was probably one of those kids who thought it was perfectly acceptable to scrawl dirty words with a Magic Marker on the walls of the boys' bathroom in junior high.

All these years later, he still hasn't grown up.

Stay classy, Will.

Speaking up for those who can't speak for themselves

Carol Marbin Miller.
Speak up for those who can’t speak for themselves,
      for the rights of all who need an advocate. ~Proverbs 31:8 [Complete Jewish Bible]


At some point last Wednesday - or maybe it was the following day - Miami Herald reporter Carol Marbin Miller made a call to the Department of Children and Families in Tallahassee.

She wanted to know if the agency had any history of dealing with the parents of Javon Dade Jr., the 4-year-old boy whose body had been discovered a few hours earlier in some overgrown grass outside his father's South Miami-Dade home.

The boy had been savagely mauled by his father's dogs: Two adult female terrier-boxer mixes, an adult male pit bull.

At about the same time Miami TV reporters were breaking down their live shots in front of the home and moving on to the next story, Miller was on the phone with someone at DCF requesting records that might show the agency's past contact with Javon's parents.

Miller got the records yesterday.  And in the paper this morning, she documents yet another story of DCF incompetence that ends with another innocent child losing his life:
Javon Dade Jr. 
Three years before Javon Dade Jr. was mauled to death by his father’s dogs, state child protection workers were warned about “the smell and danger” of the six “untrained dogs” living in an apartment with Javon’s family. Two of the dogs were pit bull terriers, which are banned in Miami-Dade County, a caller said.

“The dogs have not really been trained,” an unidentified caller told the Department of Children & Families’ child abuse hotline. “There is concern for the safe care of the children in the home.”

Javon’s father, also named Javon Dade, told investigators the animals did not belong to him. “Dad’s response has been, ‘I know, I know,’ and that he is trying to get the dogs out of the home,” a report said. But the dogs remained.

Last Wednesday, Miami-Dade police made a gruesome discovery: 4-year-old Javon’s badly mauled body lying in overgrown grass in the backyard of the family’s Goulds home. Javon had last been seen at 5 a.m., about four hours before his father noticed he was missing, and six hours before his body was found, a DCF report said.

Javon became the most recent child to die of abuse or neglect after state child protection workers had come in contact with their families. In a recent series, Innocents Lost, the Miami Herald documented the cases of 477 children — most of them younger than 5 — who died following some DCF activity, and the deaths have continued to mount.

DCF Interim Secretary Mike Carroll, who became the top administrator following the state’s annual lawmaking session in May, said Monday he believes the agency’s performance has improved since Javon’s last contact with the agency three years ago. In particular, he said, investigators failed to view the totality of Javon’s family history, and closed the case without adequately understanding the risks the boy faced. Such mistakes should be declining, he said.

Three years ago, Carroll said, investigators apparently did not know that pit bull terriers are banned in Miami-Dade — and were unaware of the county ordinance even now. Animal control officers should have been alerted to the presence of the dogs three years ago, Carroll said.

“That call should have been made,” Carroll said. “When we were reviewing this case, we did not know that. If that’s a law, yes, absolutely we should have made a call.”

Miller reports that "after his son’s death, Javon Dade was fined a total of $1,040 by the county for violating its ordinance on dangerous dogs."

I've talked with Miller in the past. On those occasions she's told me that she gets up everyday and does the job she's paid to do. In other words, nothing special. Some, however, would beg to differ.

Veteran Miami reporter Michael Putney, said this about Miller this morning: "She's a relentless reporter. She's phenomenal."

Putney continued: "Years ago, when I first got into journalism, I thought I could change the world. I soon found out the only thing I was changing was myself. But Carol's different. Her reporting does change things."

After reading Miller's story, I found myself  feeling angry and helpless.

But after doing some research, I realized that while I don't have the voice that Miller does, there are still ways to make a difference, however small.

Sometime later today, I plan to make a donation - in Javon's name - to one of several Miami organizations that do good work with children who are struggling to make it.

Why not join me, if you're able?


Casa Valentina: "Casa Valentina is an affordable housing and life skills program for youth who have aged out of foster care in Miami-Dade County." Click here to donate.

Kristi House: "Kristi House, Inc. is a private, non-profit organization in Miami, Florida, dedicated to healing and eradicating child sexual abuse." Click on the "donate" button on the home page.

The Arc of South Florida: An organization that helps people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Click here to donate.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Memo to Miami Beach City Manager Jimmy Morales: When you run from a TV reporter....

...who's trying to ask you a question, it tends to make you look like a criminal, or someone who has something to hide.

Miami Beach City Manager Jimmy Morales waddles down a hallway
at City Hall in attempt to get away from a TV reporter who wanted
to question him about the city's new parking system


March 23, 2014: Miami Beach City Manager Jimmy Morales believes the less you know, the better off you are


Watch Morales run (at the 3:30 mark in the video below) from Local 10 reporter Ross Palombo who was trying to get answers about Miami Beach's problem-plagued "high-tech" parking system. 

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