Monday, March 31, 2014

Random Pixels Guest Columnist: Gary Worth

Miami Beach resident Gary Worth left a message on Mayor Philip Levine's Facebook page a few days ago.

Will the mayor heed his advice?

Only the mayor can answer that question.

Click image to enlarge.

I know the mayor has problems with newspapers. And yes, the original story could use more context. However, he seems to be OK with a headline in another newspaper that says 'terror tower' which is certainly also not responsible journalism in my book and reeks of sensationalism in favor of the mayor's point of view.

I have no opinion yet on the idea of a tower like this, but I have no problem with [The Herald] reporting this proposal and letting the idea float around. That's the whole point of a free press. We get to see thoughts, ideas and facts even if political leaders don't like them, or do not like the way they are presented.

Of course there is a process for a proposal like this. We all know that. But please mayor, you are not in charge of the press. Let them do their job, which is not to be a PR machine for any politician but rather to work on behalf of residents to hold political leaders accountable.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Karma is a cruel mistress

Best if viewed full-screen

From the Tampa Bay Times:
A driver being tailgated Monday near Gibsonton [FL] captured the ordeal on a cellphone video, including a crash where the tailgater spun out of control and struck a utility pole.

Then she turned the video over to authorities.

Jeffrey Travis White.
State troopers said they arrested Jeffrey Travis White, 33, of Tampa based on the video and witness accounts.

The Florida Highway Patrol said that on Monday morning, White was driving south on U.S. 41 north of Gibsonton Drive. He was tailgating another driver, Tracy Lynn Sloan of Lakeland, who videotaped it using a cellphone.

White passed her and flashed an obscene gesture, which she also captured on video.

White then passed Sloan and tried to merge in front of her car, but lost control of his 2008 Ford pickup truck.

It spun out, crossed over several lanes and hit a light pole.

Karma road rage, Karma, florida road rage, caught on video

And now, a few words from Mayor Dickhead...

Click to enlarge.
Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine - who's affectionately known around these parts as "Mayor Dickhead" - sent out an email blast to his constituents this morning calling their attention to an article in this week's issue of the Miami SunPost:
Dear Friends and Neighbors:

This week's Miami SunPost covers the topic of the proposed 50-story tower at the corner of 5th Street and Alton Road. I commend the Miami SunPost on providing the public with objective and unbiased news coverage concerning the proposed development.

Last week, the City Attorney issued a legal opinion stating that under the City's Charter a property owner may not increase the size or density of a proposed development by transferring or shifting development rights from one property to another without approval by a public vote.

We will continue to take a holistic view of Alton Road by promoting responsible development that does not overburden our current infrastructure.

Click here to access the City Attorney's opinion and here to read the Miami SunPost article.


Somehow Mayor Dickhead got a hold of the SunPost's PDF files ... even before the paper hit the streets, or before the article was posted on the SunPost's website.

The "objective and unbiased" SunPost article Mayor Dickhead refers to in his email was written Michael Sasser, who has been with the paper in one capacity or another since 1996.

So, let's take a look at some of Sasser's "journalism," shall we?
Here's how Sasser described Miami Beach Commissioner Ed Tobin in a Jan. 30th piece on the SunPost's website: "Tobin is a third-generation Miami Beach resident, the son of Beverly and Leonard Tobin. The elder Tobin was many years ago, a Miami Beach constable. This set an early example for Ed in terms of ethics and community involvement, and was a powerful influence on the course of his career."

And here's how Tobin describes himself on his website: "Ed Tobin is a third-generation Miami Beach resident, the son of Beverly and Leonard Tobin. The elder Tobin was many years ago, a Miami Beach constable. This set an early example for Ed in terms of ethics and community involvement, and was a powerful influence on the course of his career." 

The plagiarizing Sasser, uses much of his "objective and unbiased" piece to attack the Miami Herald's reporting on the Fifth  Street and Alton Road project: "Despite media reports to the contrary – reports that allegedly reflect the language in a developer’s press releases – a 50-story development isn’t coming to the corner of Alton Road and Fifth Street anytime soon."

Sasser quotes Mayor Dickhead as saying, "You would think the the media [Herald] would at least look and see what the zoning is there and glance at the City Charter before, unfortunately, regurgitating a press release."

Sasser then devotes the rest of his piece "regurgitating" many of  Levine's previously reported talking points. 

It's almost as if Mayor Dickhead wrote the piece himself. Or at the very least, looked over Sasser's shoulder as he wrote it.

Sasser writes that unnamed "readers and activists" have long considered the Herald's Miami Beach reporting, "erratic," and that "activists" - again unnamed - "complained" that the Herald's reporting on the Miami Beach convention Center was being manipulated.

from "Terror Tower," by Michael Sasser,
Miami SunPost, March 27, 2014.

So much for Mayor Dickhead's opinion of "objective and unbiased news coverage."

The SunPost, Mayor Dickhead? Is that the best you can do?

Your lunch hour time waster

Dog Alarm Clocks.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Raul Segundo Fernandez was arrested today on animal cruelty charges

Raul Segundo Fernandez

The cops arrested Raul Segundo Fernandez Wednesday and charged him with seven felony counts of animal cruelty.

So what is it that Fernandez is accused of doing?

The Herald's David Ovalle explains: "At an illegal slaughterhouse in West Miami-Dade, pigs were shot, stabbed, beaten with sledgehammers and gutted and boiled while alive..."

But every Cuban, every Nicaraguan, every Puerto Rican...everyone in Miami-Dade County who patronized his illegal slaughterhouse for their Noche Buena pig, are Fernandez's accomplices, and are just as guilty as he is.

On a side note, perhaps today's arrest of Fernandez will motivate the Miami Herald's Cuban Culture Pontificator-in-Chief, Fabiola Santiago, to write a column that explains why Cuban - and other Hispanic cultures - turn a blind eye to this kind of unspeakable animal cruelty.

Go head, Fabi, I'm all ears.

Court records show Fernandez is already on probation following a 2013 conviction for marijuana trafficking.

Click image to enlarge.

Local 10's Christina Vazquez reports the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office "confirmed [Fernandez's] arrest is related to undercover surveillance video provided by Animal Recovery Mission."

Vazquez adds that "Richard Couto of ARM has been monitoring this particular property for quite some time."

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

(If you have the stomach for it, you can watch an unedited and EXTREMELY GRAPHIC version of ARM's undercover video by clicking here.)

Click here to see a 2009 profile of Couto by CNN's John Zarella.

Your lunch hour time waster

Dog. Cat. Rat.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Miami Beach City Manager Jimmy Morales believes the less you know, the better off you are

Last Feb. 28, the Miami Herald's brand-new police reporter, Chuck Rabin, sat down at his computer and wrote a story focusing on the deaths of two men who died in February after being zapped with Tasers by Miami-Dade police officers.

One of the deaths had occurred just a few hours before in deep South Miami-Dade County.

But the other death occurred more than three weeks before, in Liberty City.

Somehow, Miami-Dade Police had managed to keep quiet, the Feb. 5th death of a 21-year-old man from Georgia.

From Rabin's report:
The other Miami-Dade fatality in February happened more than three weeks ago.

That’s when 21-year-old Willie Sams — studying to become a barber, from a tiny town in Northwest Georgia, and visiting his grandmother — got into a confrontation with police in Liberty City.

Just before 1 a.m. on Feb. 5, police responding to a domestic dispute call jolted Sams, 21, with a Taser, also known as an electronic control device.

An hour later, doctors at Northshore Medical Center pronounced Sams dead.

“An encounter occurred between the officers and Mr. Sams. The officers deployed an electronic control device, striking Mr. Sams. [Miami-Dade Fire Rescue] was called to the scene and Mr. Sams was taken to North Shore Hospital, where he was pronounced deceased,” is all police would say. [Emphasis mine.]

Rabin's story was posted on the Herald's website shortly before noon on Feb. 28th.

Jimmy Morales.
That afternoon, Miami Beach City Manager Jimmy Morales sat down at his computer and clicked on the link to Rabin's story.

Morales, presumably, read the entire piece. But it was the three sentence statement by Miami-Dade Police regarding the Feb. 5th death that inspired the city manager to do a little writing of his own.

Not long after reading the story, Morales sent the following email to his inner circle at City Hall and a few top people at the Miami Beach Police Department:


Please see the Herald article linked to this email regarding a taser death on February 5th. Miami-Dade Police certainly seem to have no problem issuing a short statement with only the facts. No interviews by anybody. Just a simple statement. Probably part of the reason why there has been so little coverage.  [Emphasis mine.] The County is not giving them material to print. Let the facts speak for themselves.

That is all I ask for. I find it is usually much safer to say less than more. I trust that this will be how we handle things going forward. Thanks

Jimmy Morales

Morales is no dummy. His page on the city's website says he graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University and magna cum laude from Harvard Law School.

But one city hall insider said this of Morales' email, "Vocally communicating something like that is fine, but putting it in writing is just plain dumb."

Despite his careful, seemingly benign words, Morales' message to his "team" was clear: "The next time we have a crisis in the city, say as little as possible to the press, and maybe they'll go away."

Note to Jimmy Morales: If you actually believe that then you must be stupid...or delusional.

This is, by the way, the same Jimmy Morales, who during a run for Miami-Dade mayor in 2004, couldn't explain how he spent $580,000 in campaign funds.


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine is a Dickhead

Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine's official portrait. 
(Click here to enlarge.)

Why is Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine such a dickhead?

That's the question I asked myself as I read his latest hissy-fit on Facebook.

Mayor Dickhead, it seems, had issues with a short, 124-word Miami Herald story posted Monday about a 50-story residential tower that developers want to build near the Alton Road flyover in South Beach.

On Facebook Tuesday, Mayor Dickhead called the story a "factually inaccurate published press release."

"The article," Levine wrote, "...omits an essential point: the parcel of land upon which the proposed development is located is zoned CPS-2, which provides for a maximum of 7 stories vertically. A project of this size and magnitude does not meet our planning and zoning regulations."

Perhaps the story would have included that "essential point" if Mayor Dickhead had agreed to talk to Herald reporter Christina Veiga for the story. But Levine - being a dickhead - routinely refuses to talk to Veiga.

The fact is there was nothing in the six sentence story that was incorrect. Nothing.

But Mayor Dickhead has an aversion to facts, especially when they interfere with his obsessive loathing of the Miami Herald. Levine likes to say the paper is "biased" and "distorts his answers."

A few hours after Mayor Dickhead's Facebook meltdown, a longer story on the Alton Road project was posted on the Herald's website.

In the story, Veiga reported that Levine didn't return calls seeking his comment on the project.

But an hour or two after the story went online, that line was removed and substituted with these three sentences:
Levine said Tuesday night that it was premature for him to take a position on the project because it would require dramatic regulatory changes before it could happen.

“This is a massive change that would require massive public input,” he said. “This is something the community would have to decide.”

Turns out Mayor Dickhead saw the early version of the story online, and then made a late night call to the Herald, speaking to an editor who agreed to update the story with his comments.

The next day Levine went on Facebook and posted a link on his website to the updated Herald story that read in part: "Enclosed please find the Miami Herald’s update of their article with my quote included relating to the recently proposed 600-foot-high tower on the corner of 5th Street and Alton Road."

So, Mayor Dickhead, let me see if I understand you: You refuse to talk with the Herald for a story, but then you accuse the paper of printing inaccurate articles because they don't include your side of the story.

But when the Herald quotes you after you bypass the reporter and go straight to an editor, then you're happy to point out the article to your constituents. Is that about right?

The irony here is that just a few weeks ago, the Herald turned over one third of its op-ed page to Mayor Dickhead.

In a March 5th piece entitled "Our promises, our progress," Levine wrote: "In the months ahead, I will continue to walk door to door to hear the ideas and concerns of our residents, discussing everything from making Ocean Drive a better place for the people of Miami Beach to creating master plans for Alton Road and West Avenue."

Miami Herald, March 5, 2014.

Mayor Dickhead despises the Herald and wants nothing to do with it...except when he can use it to disseminate his message without the benefit of editing. He's the only politician in South Florida the Herald allows to do that.

Last year, shortly before Levine was elected, Veiga wrote a piece on Levine's attempts to silence his critics.

Levine refused to speak with Veiga for the story.

Instead, his lap dog campaign manager, Alex Miranda, emailed Veiga a statement that began: "You are only authorized to write the answers below, verbatim. You are NOT allowed to edit or paraphrase these on the record answers."

And the Herald did just that. It printed Levine's/Miranda's answers in full.

One prominent South Florida journalist called the Herald's printing of Levine's full statement, "a damaging precedent."

Of course the Herald could bring Mayor Dickhead's shenanigans to a screeching halt by telling him, "Respect us, and respect our reporters by talking to them. We're not going to take any more of your late night calls after you initially refuse to talk to a reporter. And no more long-winded op-ed pieces for you until those conditions are met."

And Mayor Dickhead, let me add this: Right now, you're well on your way to becoming the second most despised politician in South Florida. Keep it up and you may well overtake that dickhead in Tallahassee and become the state's most despised politician.


Washington Post: Miami Beach mayor: Take your tech start-up gospel, and shove it.

Political Cortadito: Phillip Levine goon boots blogger from 1st Amendment event.

Political Cortadito: Candidate Philip Levine’s handlers threaten political blogger.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Miami Herald's executive editor refutes Mayor Philip Levine's charge that paper published 'factually incorrect article' [UPDATED x2]

UPDATED: with Miami Herald story posted Tuesday evening, Mar. 18 that includes comments from Levine.
Levine said Tuesday night that it was premature for him to take a position on the project because it would require dramatic regulatory changes before it could happen.

“This is a massive change that would require massive public input,” he said. “This is something the community would have to decide.”


UPDATED: Scroll down to bottom of this post to see the email and invitation sent out March 12 by developer Russell Galbut, Crescent Heights managing partner regarding 500 - 700 Alton.


Late this afternoon, Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine accused the Miami Herald of publishing a "factually incorrect story."

The paper's executive editor is denying the charge.

Here's the story by Miami Herald reporter Christina Veiga that was posted on the paper's website Monday evening shortly after 8 pm.
50-story residential tower proposed for Alton Road

By Christina Veiga
The Miami Herald

Developers Crescent Heights and the Related Companies are partnering on a proposal to build a 50-story residential tower at the foot of the Alton Road flyover in South Beach.

The developers will host a series of public presentations about the project, which spans the 500-700 blocks of Alton Road.

A model of the tower will be on display from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday, with presentations given at 8:45 a.m., 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. The model and presentations will be at the Related South Beach Sales Center, at 91 Collins Ave.

The residential tower was designed by international architecture firm Perkins + Will. The project also includes a three-acre public park that the designers, Miami Beach-based Urban Robot Associates, hope will help alleviate flooding.

Follow @Cveiga on Twitter  

Here's a status update posted to Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine's Facebook page Tuesday afternoon.

Levine's Facebook update links to an email sent to his constituents. In it, Levine faults the Herald for publishing a "factually incorrect article" that "mirrors a press release...issued by the developers."

The article simply mirrors a press release that was issued by the developers and unfortunately omits an essential point: the parcel of land upon which the proposed development is located is zoned CPS-2, which provides for a maximum of 7 stories vertically. A project of this size and magnitude does not meet our planning and zoning regulations.

Via Mayor Philip Levine.

Levine has made no secret of his dislike of the Herald.

In a Nov. 23, 2013 story published a few weeks after Levine's election, Veiga wrote "Levine has refused to speak to the Miami Herald, saying that the paper is biased and would distort his answers."

This morning, Veiga tweeted a photo of the 50-story residential tower that Levine says does not "meet planning and zoning regulations."

Within the hour, I emailed the Herald's executive editor, Mindy Marqués, for comment. I asked her to respond to Levine's charges that the Herald published a "factually incorrect story."

Just a few minutes ago, Marqués emailed this response:

There is no mistake to correct. Last night, Christina wrote a brief about the proposed project. Today, she saw plans and is following up with a full story.



In a follow-up email, Marqués wrote "And just to be clear, Bill, Christina did her own reporting for the brief."

I've reached out to Levine and his assistant, Alex Miranda, via Twitter for a response.


From: Russell Galbut <>
Date: Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Subject: Alton Road - A Shared Vision
To: Russell Galbut <>

My Dear Friends,
Crescent Heights and the Related Companies invite you to view a new vision of the Alton Road area of South Beach, including the entryway to Miami Beach at MacArthur Causeway.
Please come this TUESDAY, MARCH 18TH to the Related South Beach Sales Center at 91 Collins Avenue (Corner of 1st Street and Collins Ave) anytime during the day to see our vision and model of Alton Road. Walk-ins welcome all day. View the model anytime from 8am-6pm.
Full presentations will be done at: 8:45AM  •  11AM  •  4PM
You will have the chance to see and hear about this new vision for the 500-700 blocks of Alton Road,  including a new public park water containment lake and residential tower prepared by the international architecture firm Perkins + Will, with architecture landscape expert and flooding control analyst Justine Velez of  Urban Robot LLC.
Please feel free to send this email to all your lists and invite all members of our Miami Beach Community.
I look forward to seeing you this Tuesday March 18th any time after 8:30am.
Russell W. Galbut
Managing Principal
RGALBUT@CRESCENTHEIGHTS.COM  |  P:  305.573.4127  |  F:  305.573.8489


Source: Russell Galbut | Crescent Heights
(Click here to enlarge)


The Real Related, Crescent Heights team up on condo tower.

Curbed Miami: The Plans For 500 Alton This Time Include A Tower & A Lake.

Your lunch hour time waster

Pitbull vs Kitten....Real Love Real Fights

Listen to Miami Herald reporter Carol Marbin Miller talk about 'Innocents Lost' on The Takeaway

Yesterday, Miami Herald reporter Carol Marbin Miller talked about the Herald's 'Innocents Lost' investigative series on The Takeaway. If you missed it, you can listen below.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Miami Herald publisher David Landsberg leaving one non-profit to work for another non-profit [UPDATED x2]

UPDATED at 1:15 pm. A former Miami Herald staffer reacts to Landsberg's departure:
“I actually feel better about the future of the Miami Herald Media Co. today than at any point over the past 7 1/2 years,” Landsberg said. “We’re on solid financial footing. We’ve got a terrific new workplace that really suits a modern media company and an outstanding staff that’s completely dedicated, capable and will continue to forge ahead.”

From a former Herald staffer:

I don't know what would be worse, if Landsberg actually believes this or if pretending to believe it is the only way he's been able to survive the reality of the Herald's decline without losing his mind.

Solid financial footing? How does this manifest in the company operations? Certainly not in hiring, retention, raises or travel for news coverage. Layoffs, buyouts and voluntary departures have reduced the news staff by what, 70 to 75 percent in the past five or six years? Net newsroom hires from outside the company in that time, even if you include interns who move to staff positions? Probably less than a dozen. Big pay cuts, two weeks of unpaid furlough the past few years and suspended company 401k match. Oh wait-- million-dollar bonuses to McClatchy execs! So inspiring to the rank-and-file.

The "terrific new workplace'' is a half-empty building in the middle of nowhere with all the charm of a strip-mall medical plaza and more flat-screen tvs (such cutting-edge technology!) than reporters.

Where I agree wholeheartedly is with Landsberg's assessment of the remaining staff, who do the impossible every day because they still believe in journalism as a righteous calling and somehow have the strength to forge ahead despite McClatchy's best efforts to destroy a formerly great newspaper.


UPDATED at 12:45 pm. Via Huffington Post: Goodwill's Charity Racket: CEOs Earn Top-Dollar, Workers Paid Less Than Minimum Wage.
In 2010, Goodwill Industries International, Inc., the national parent corporation for all of the nation's secondhand clothing affiliates, paid its president and CEO James Gibbons more than half a million dollars in compensation. And dozens of state and local chapters copied the national headquarters' executive extravagance. Here's a rundown of the recent executive compensation packages for the three Florida-based Goodwill organizations that pay some employees less than minimum wage:

$440,197- CEO of Goodwill Industries-Suncoast, Inc.

$316,685- CEO of Goodwill Industries of South Florida, Inc.

$393,001- CEO of Goodwill Industries of Central Florida, Inc.

Tommy A. Moore, Jr., Goodwill Industries International's board chair Goodwill's board chair, says, "The board goes through a rigorous process to determine his compensation based on the impact of his leadership, strategic goals and performance."

But, what he doesn't tell you is that the CEO's annual review is less rigorous than the corporation's review of subminimum wage employees, who are evaluated every six months, or sometimes even more frequently. Turner-Little, a spokesman for Goodwill Industries International, Inc., described to me the "lengthy" and "extensive" process.

Last year, the Miami Herald's Doug Hanks reported, "Goodwill places some workers with below minimum wage jobs."

Source: Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. 


Breaking News: Miami Herald publisher David Landsberg - the man who feloniously cleverly coined the term "24/7 Information Specialists" to describe the Herald's news steamroller - is leaving the paper after 30 years to become president and CEO of Goodwill Industries of South Florida.

But it's safe to say Landsberg will be making considerably more than the sub-minimum wages paid to many Goodwill workers. (Click here or see updates above.)

This morning a Herald staffer told me, "We're sad to see David leave, but those of us in the newsroom will still see him on a regular basis when we visit Goodwill to shop for our furniture and clothing."

From: Alvarez, Lourdes []

Sent: Monday, March 17, 2014 10:06 AM

To: Lourdes M. Alvarez




David Landsberg.
MIAMI, FL, March 17, 2014 – After 30 years at the Miami Herald Media Company – the last seven-and-a-half as president and publisher – David Landsberg is leaving to become president and CEO of Goodwill Industries of South Florida. He will remain with the company through mid-April. A search for his successor is underway.

“It's difficult to recognize all of David's many, many accomplishments,” stated Mark Zieman, vice president of operations for McClatchy. Landsberg has spent his entire career working for the Miami Herald Media Company. He arrived from the University of Florida in 1984, attained an MBA from the University of Miami, held a variety of financial posts and rose to CFO, vice president of advertising, general manager and, lastly, president and publisher.

Under David’s leadership, he shepherded the company through a historic recession and the ongoing transformation of the business from print to digital. During the past two years, David also oversaw the relocation from downtown Miami to Doral, including the construction of the new production plant – an enormous undertaking all completed on time and on budget.

“I actually feel better about the future of the Miami Herald Media Company today than at any point over the past seven-and-a-half years,” Landsberg said. “We’re on solid financial footing, we’ve got a terrific new workplace that really suits a modern media company and an outstanding staff that’s completely dedicated, capable and will continue to forge ahead.”

Landsberg’s ties to Goodwill Industries of South Florida run deep. He’s served on the board for 18 years and feels strongly about its social justice mission to employ the disabled. Goodwill has handled all of Miami Herald Media Company inserts since 1995.

Zieman thanked David for his many contributions to the Miami Herald Media Company and to McClatchy over the years and wished him all the best with Goodwill during this morning’s announcement to employees.


Word document attached.

Media Contact: Lourdes M. Alvarez, Miami Herald,

Lourdes M. Alvarez

Marketing Manager

Miami Herald Media Company

3511 NW 91 Ave., Miami, FL 33172


Miami Herald: Publisher David Landsberg leaving Miami Herald Media Co. to lead Goodwill Industries of South Florida

Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho still not happy with high salaries at Friends of WLRN

Here's something to ponder as you try to decide whether or not to pony up some of your hard-earned money during the second week of radio station WLRN's pledge drive.

Daniel Ricker of the Watchdog Report yesterday emailed this update on the ongoing enmity between Miami-Dade Superintendent of Schools Alberto Carvalho and the people in charge at the school board-owned radio and TV station WLRN, and the station's fundraising arm, Friends of WLRN.
>>>> Supt. Carvalho questions why WLRN Friends reserves are so “shockingly healthy,” with $10 million in the bank, suggests the station should benefit given “staffing and equipment needs,” he tells Audit Committee

Alberto Carvalho.
A discussion at the school board’s Audit and Budget Review Committee Tuesday of WLRN and Friends of WLRN shows that when it comes to Superintendent Alberto Carvalho. He still thinks some of the Friend’s employees salaries are in excess and he is wondering why Friends, the station’s fundraising arm is sitting “shockingly healthy,” on some $10 million when clearly the station has some staffing and equipment “needs,” he said. [Emphasis mine.]

He also believes Friends should move into the station’s building and Friends “could pay rent,” if they wanted to and he thought bringing Friends back to the district building made sense since Friends job was to raise money for the station, he said.

When Carvalho took the helm back in Sept. 2008 he started to review all the agreements the nation’s fourth largest school district had and found in the case of WLRN and Friends some charter and agreement changes were made back around 1995 and the changes were never approved by the school board or superintendent, which owns the station’s FCC license and one of the past changes removed the District superintendent being allowed to remove a board member on the boards, as well as approving the radio and television station’s general manager (Which has since changed).

Board Chair Perla Tabares Hantman ... has wanted to go to some of the WLRN Friends board meetings where a board member is on the board, but many of these meetings are held in Broward or other areas, [and] that makes it difficult to attend. Since the station’s signal goes from Palm Beach to Key West [the Broward meetings] allow listeners in those areas to also chime in on how the station is doing and being run.

She said of the “next three meetings, one is in Ft. Lauderdale, another is being held on Brickell,” and the rest are in Ft. Lauderdale she said and that makes it “difficult,” for her or other school board members to attend. 
In addition, Carvalho said the WLRN board chair has told him that any requested information on “personnel and payroll,” will be “available in May,” he told audit committee members inquiring about the matter.

Your lunch hour time waster

This dog is not allowed on the bed… So guess what happens when he’s home alone?!

Let's go to the hidden camera video.

Happy St. Patrick's Day from Random Pixels

Cartoon by Don Wright.
from the Miami News, March 17, 1964.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Fabi Watch

If you read this blog on a regular basis, then you know I use this space to critique the Miami Herald's worst columnist, Fabiola Santiago.

In her column today, Fabi has outdone herself. It's her usual bad writing, but on a grand scale.

Fabi has somehow reshaped her usual blather and gibberish into a new and exquisite form of literary art.

This is writing so bad, it's good.

Hopefully, after reading today's column, someone at the Pulitzer Board will consider creating a new Pulitzer category: "Most Unintelligible Newspaper Column."

It is possible, however, that the appearance of Fabi's column in the paper today was an error.

It may be that she mistakenly turned in a column written while she was high on bath salts.

It's also possible that as I write this, someone at the paper is crafting a correction that will run in Sunday's paper: "Because of a production error, we published a column in Saturday's paper by Fabiola Santiago that was nothing more than a stream of gibberish and utter nonsense. We offer our sincere apologies to readers who may have been offended or confused."

And now, here is Fabiola's complete column, followed by the same column, but with some "improvements."

Weeds proliferate like Florida’s bad gun laws

By Fabiola Santiago

I raised the machete high in the air above my head, and without a second thought, brought down the sharp blade on the stalk of the plantain tree to free the bountiful cluster of fruit. I missed — and the machete flew out of my hands.

In that one second we sometimes get to change an outcome, I jumped out of its way, living with extraordinary clarity the brief span of time that separates life from death, wellness from injury, wisdom from insanity.

After the machete landed safely with a thud on the ground, I could hear my father and gardening mentor laughing in Spanish from Heaven: “Amateur, amateur!”

I learned that next time I wrestle with Mother Nature, I need to bring a ladder so I can at least be at eye level.

Or pick the fruit from the tree daily. It’s a sweet chore, and I get to share the bounty with birds and other creatures — possums, lizards, wandering cats, and ant colonies in search of delicacies in the midst of our thickening urbanity.

But still, I am an amateur.

Since I started taking care of my green space two years ago after my father died — my way of trying to hold on to one of the things we shared and I treasured — there’s only been one word to describe the look of my yard and my efforts: hardscrabble.

The weeds won the war.

What I sprinkled on to kill them, made them grow.

Weeds proliferate like Florida’s bad gun laws.

The only thing you can predict is that there will be more of both to come. Making the rounds in the Florida Legislature are these proposals: teachers and administrators packing heat; kids getting away with pointing make-believe guns in school; tax collectors handling weapons’ permits like car tags; insurance companies forbidden from charging more to gun owners, although they can and do for certain dog breeds.

I need new grass.

Florida needs new governance.

Despite the dollar weed and carpet grass, however, it’s not all bad news in the garden.

The Tree of Gold (also known as Caribbean Trumpet Tree) the developer threw in with the house and the multicolored bougainvillea my father planted along the back fence are glorious. Not that I can take any credit other than saving them from people like my former hired gardener who wanted to annihilate them. These sturdy beauties thrive in Florida weather with other herbaceous wonders that require little maintenance, at least from my point of view.

My father was a fan of taming living things. I enjoy the wild view. How else can one observe the genuine process of growth and change?

I can’t offer an expert opinion on climate change, for example, but I can say that my Tree of Gold used to shed all of its green leaves before it burst into pregnant clusters of yellow flowers on bare branches.

This warm winter left most of the leaves.

My father and I once had a heated argument when I arrived at his house and found him mercilessly whacking away at his beautiful hibiscus hedge. The only thing he was right about was that it was his hibiscus to trim.

And so I stand by my machete.

I may be an amateur, but I wield an instrument sharpened by my father. Only that I’ve now learned from experience how to use it wisely.

While today's column was loaded with Fabi's usual gibberish, I decided it needed more.

So I plugged parts of it into a gibberish generator.

The result? A column that's full of even more gibberish. And it's one, I'm sure, that Fabi would be proud to call her own.

by Fabiola Santiago

And so I stand by my machete.

I may be an amateur, but I wield an instrument sharpened by my father was right about was his beautiful hibiscus hedge. The only things. I enjoy the developer than saving thing he was that I can take any credit other planted to shed along them. These sturdy beauties thrive in Florida weather. Only thing he was his house and the dollar weed and I once how to use it was a fan of the leaves before it wisely. Despite them from expert opinion on climate change?

I can at eye level.

Or pick the bounty with a thud on the ground, I could hear my hands.

In the machete landed safely with Mother and I get to bring cats, and we sometimes get to change an out of its way, lizards, wanded safely without a second the machete high in search of our thickening a ladder so I could head, and ant colonies in the machete high in search of delicacies in that separates life from injury, wisdom from Heaven: “Amateur. I missed thought down the plantain the machete flew out of flowers."

I can saving them. These sturdy beautiful hibiscus hedge. These sturdy beautiful hibiscus to trim.

I stand by my father planted to shed all bad news in the developer than say that require little maintenance, at least from experience had a heated all bad news in the genuine process of growth and found him mercilessly whacking away at his beauties thrive in Florida weather with the back fence had a heated argument when I arrived at his house and I once how to use it wisely.

Rick Scott is a douchebag.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The way we were...poet Robert Frost honored with a highway

Robert Frost.
Back in March 1966, a group called the City of Miami Beautification Committee asked that a highway in Florida be named for the late poet, Robert Frost.

Frost wintered in Miami for some 25 years, and lectured at the University of Miami. He had a home in South Miami on SW 53rd Ave. he called "Pencil Pines."

Frost, who won four Pulitzer Prizes for his poetry, died in 1963 at the age of 88.

In June 1966, the Miami News editorialized: "We're all for honoring this great American poet who made Miami his home. But an expressway? Robert Frost? The poet whose volumes are named, Witness Tree, West Running Brook, Steeple Bush, etc.? Please don't. Isn't there a park somewhere in need of a name?"

But the Legislature went ahead anyway, and in 1967 it named a section of the Airport Expressway - "a superhighway that is perhaps the busiest in [Dade] County" - after Frost.

St. Petersburg Times, April 2, 1967.
(Click to enlarge.)

In 1999, Miami Herald reporter Arnold Markowitz went looking any evidence that the Robert Frost Highway actually existed: "State Road 112, the original Airport Expressway, was named the Dewey Knight Jr. Memorial Highway in 1996 for a beloved public servant who died in '95. No disrespect was intended for beloved poet Robert Frost, whose name had been given to the same road in '67. He just has to share it now.
"If you notice a sign mentioning Knight or Frost on the Airport Expressway, you aren't driving carefully enough. Maybe there aren't any..."

H/T: Curbed Miami

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Coming this Sunday in the Miami Herald....

Some very important work coming this Sunday in the Miami Herald, online, and in a 16-page special section in print....

-via the Miami Herald...

Innocents Lost:
The Miami Herald will begin an investigative series exploring what happened to more than 470 children who died, often violently, after the Department of Children & Families had been warned that they or their siblings might be in danger. In print and online, the Herald will tell the story of every child and what went wrong. Here is a sampling of those stories. (Click here.)

The stories were written and edited by Carol Marbin Miller, Nick Madigan, Audra D.S. Burch, Julie K. Brown and Casey Frank.

Haleigh Marie Cain, 2.
via the Miami Herald.
Haleigh Cain's mother, Jessica Krsul, had two habits that worried child-protection workers.

The first, her use of various narcotics, was solved, they believed, when Krsul signed a safety plan saying she would not use illegal drugs or expose her daughter to them.

The second problem was Krsul's history of domestic relationships that often turned violent. The latter danger proved to be the most serious.

Child welfare workers took action, but a report suggests their solutions fell short. They referred Krsul to daycare services and drug treatment, but did not confirm that she followed through. The caseworkers praised Krsul's "strong family support system," but did not factor in that some relatives were also drug users, a death review said.

In March 2007, DCF was told Haleigh's dad, Terry Cain, hit Krsul with a "ketsup bottle," and nearly hit Haleigh, as well. Cain called Krsul the aggressor. And although Krsul and Cain separated, the threat to their infant daughter was left unresolved.

Five months later, another report arrived, this one claiming Krsul was selling drugs from her home, and had been arrested for cocaine possession. The report added "Mom is a very volatile person." And though Krsul refused to take a drug test, she was allowed to sign another safety plan: "I will refrain from the use of illegal substances that would adversely affect my child. I will ensure my child is adequately supervised while in my care."

Jessica Krsul was referred to a "family preservation" specialist for services, but the counseling never occurred because Krsul was uncooperative, a report said. Days later, neighbors reported, Krsul and someone named Tim got into a fistfight, and Tim left with a "busted head."

Dennis Creamer.
Florida Dept. of
Corrections photo.
When Haleigh was 2 years old, she was taken to a party at the home of a family friend by Krsul and her new boyfriend, Dennis Creamer, according to the file. The couple later told investigators that after the party they went home and put the children to bed. The next morning, they said, Haleigh was cold and stiff — long dead.

She was found face-down on the floor of her bedroom, bruised and with a bloody nose. The autopsy showed Haleigh had suffered multiple internal injuries, including a lacerated spleen and kidney, and her liver was so damaged it was almost severed.

Under questioning, Creamer confessed to pushing Haleigh's head into a wall three times, hitting her in the face several times and kicking her in the stomach. "I beat her," he told police. Creamer was ultimately convicted of first-degree murder and aggravated child abuse, and sentenced to life in prison.

"He claimed that he loved Haleigh and never meant to do it," a report said.

Read more cases by clicking here.

'I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!'

Versailles founder Felipe Valls, Sr., right, 
and son Felipe Valls, Jr. 
(Click image to enlarge.)
Daily Business Review staff writer John Pacenti has posted a great story on his paper's website today.

Pacenti reports that "A former general manager at Miami's landmark Versailles Cuban restaurant has filed a lawsuit claiming he was retaliated against after reporting undocumented workers."

Pacenti also writes that in addition to "the retaliation claim, there also are allegations of inflating tips reports to avoid wage and hour requirements and understating income to avoid federal and state income taxes."


But perhaps the most shocking allegation in the lawsuit is that "it was a regular practice at Versailles to void and discount bills for prominent members of the community, such as U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Letinen, U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart and Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado."

No way!

Miami New Times: Versailles Cited For 52 Safety Violations During Routine Inspection.

Your lunch hour time waster

What happens when engineers own dogs.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Flo Rida writes about murder in the 'hood...because the Miami Herald won't

Janelle Lynn was shot and killed on 
NW 57th Street in Brownsville.
Click here to enlarge.

From Miami-Dade Police Department's Northside District Shooting Log.
(Click to enlarge.)

Janelle Lynn died in a drive-by shooting on April 13, 2013 at 10:57 p.m. She was exactly three weeks shy of her 23rd birthday.

Her murder was just one of 39 homicides that occurred in 2013 in what Miami-Dade Police call the Northside District.

We don't know much more about Janelle's short life because the Miami Herald ignored her murder...the same way the paper ignored the other 38 homicides that took place in the Northside District in 2013.

But Janelle's death didn't go completely unnoticed.

Three days after she was gunned down, rapper Flo Rida tweeted this to his followers.

It's not much...but it's a whole lot more recognition than she received from the Miami Herald.

It appears that Chuck D was right when he famously remarked, “Rap is CNN for black people.”

Click here to enlarge.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

'The dirtiest little town in Florida'

"Why is this even a city?"

That quote comes from Florida State Senator Rob Bradley.

He's talking about Hampton, Florida, a flyspeck of a town that lies half-way between Gainesville and Jacksonville.

In a story posted today, CNN calls Hampton "the dirtiest little town in Florida."
How off-the-charts corrupt do you have to be to capture somebody's attention in the Sunshine State?

You can lay claim to a 1,260-foot stretch of busy highway a mile outside of town and set up one of the nation's most notorious speed traps. You can use the ticket money to build up a mighty police force -- an officer for every 25 people in town -- and, residents say, let drugs run rampant while your cops sit out by the highway on lawn chairs, pointing radar guns at everybody who passes by.

Of course, none of those things are illegal. But when you lose track of the money and the mayor gets caught up in an oxy-dealing sting, that's when the politicians at the state Capitol in Tallahassee take notice.

Now they want this city gone, and the sooner the better.

A state audit of Hampton's books, released last month, reads like a primer on municipal malfeasance. It found 31 instances in which local rules or state or federal laws were violated in ways large and small.

Somewhere along the way, the place became more than just a speed trap. Some say the ticket money corrupted Hampton, making it the dirtiest little town in Florida.


Despite its polite audit-speak and dry title -- "Operational Audit: City of Hampton" -- the 42-page report from the state auditor general makes for riveting reading. Nepotism is rampant. City cars, cell phones and credit cards were misused. The city clerk was overpaid by some $9,000, and employees ran up $27,000 on the city's credit card and charged another $132,000 on an account at the convenience store at the BP station next door to City Hall.


Watch the video above and read the complete story on CNN's website by clicking here.

CNN says that by the time the current Florida Legislative session closes at the end of April, "Hampton could be history."

Too bad the Legislature can't kill two birds with one stone and also do away with Florida's second dirtiest little town.....which happens to be right here in Miami-Dade. Wouldn't that be nice?

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Everything you need to know about the state of the Miami Herald in 36 words

Last night, I emailed a Miami Herald reporter a link to my latest post

In a nutshell, the post was about the failure of the Herald to cover any of the 137 shootings and 39 homicides that occurred last year in what Miami-Dade Police call the Northside District. (In case you missed it, you can read it by clicking here.)

"To my knowledge, we never have, nor has any paper I'm aware of, covered every killing in a major metro area," the reporter wrote back.

His response led me to believe that he never read my entire post. But I answered: "They're not covering ANY!!!!!"

To which he responded, "Ask the crime reporter. I'm the ________ writer. I don't make assignments or editorial decisions."

Translation: "Not my problem, dude."

So, if you're on a ship and the ship is headed for an iceberg but the captain doesn't see the iceberg, do you try to get his attention?

Judging from this reporter's response, that's someone else's job.

Note to Herald staffers: Now might be a good time to get reacquainted with the route to your lifeboat station.

Friday, March 07, 2014

There are no 'dirt-bag' murders

Often assistant city editors, short on space and patience, would insist that I select and report only the “major murder” of the day. I knew what they meant, but I fought the premise. How can you choose?

Every murder is major to the victim.

Sure, it’s simpler to write about only one case and go home. But some strange sense of obligation would not let me do it. The Miami Herald is South Florida’s newspaper of record, and I felt compelled to report every murder, every death on its pages — names, dates, facts — to preserve them in our newspaper, in our files, in our consciousness, on record forever, in black and white. On my days off, or when I worked on other stories or projects, some murders went totally unreported. So I would carefully resurrect them, slipping them into the local section in round-ups, wrap-ups, and trend stories about possibly related cases. There was always a way, you could always find an angle. For instance: Victim number 141 in 1980 proved to be the widower of victim number 330 in 1979.

A bright young reporter I talked to recently casually referred to what he called dirt-bag murders: the cases and the victims not worth reporting. There is no dirt-bag murder. The story is always there waiting to be found if you just dig deep enough.
-Edna Buchanan, The Corpse Had a Familiar Face.


Twenty-three year-old Demetrius Jones was gunned down in broad daylight 
not far from this neighborhood hangout at NW 18th Ave. and 63rd Street.
The Miami Herald never printed one word about his murder.
(Click image to enlarge.)


The King Market in Miami sits across the street from a trash-strewn lot on the corner of NW 18th Ave. and 63rd Street -- a lot that serves as a neighborhood hangout.

With a sign outside that beckons: "Subs, Wings, Burgers," the King Market looks like a hundred other run-down, inner-city outposts in Miami whose owners subsist selling lottery tickets, bags of ice, sodas, beer, cigarettes, candy and gum.

On March 3rd of last year, shortly after 1 p.m., 23-year-old Demetrius Jones was walking south on 18th Ave. near the market when a Nissan Maxima traveling in the opposite direction slowed to a crawl as it approached him. Someone inside rolled down a window, pointed an assault rifle at Jones and shot him numerous times.

"When officers arrived on the scene," according to CBS Miami, "they saw that Jones has been shot multiple times in the torso, face, neck, and legs. Fourteen assault rifle casings were also recovered at the scene."

Four months later police arrested 21 year-old Efram Zimbalist Fitzpatrick and charged him with Jones' murder.

Saintonus Oscar.
On May 23rd of last year, shortly after 10 in the morning, 35-year-old career criminal Saintonas Oscar and another man were gunned down near NW 102nd Street and 12th Ave. Police have not caught their killers.

On Nov. 20th, 2013, 72-year-old Roberto Sousa shot three men, killing two, and injuring a third near NW 105th Street and 36th Ave. Sousa then drove to a remote area in Southwest Miami-Dade and shot himself.

Kendrick Davis. 
Twelve hours later, at a few minutes past midnight on Nov. 21st, someone shot and killed 34-year-old Cornelius Hudson near NW 74th Terrace and NW 19th Ave.

A few days later, police took 19-year-old Kendrick Davis into custody and charged him with Hudson's murder.

With just one exception, all of the above murders have three things in common: 1) Both the shooters and victims were African-American, 2) the killings occurred in the Miami-Dade Police Department's Northside District, and, 3) None of the killings were reported by the Miami Herald.

Only the Nov. 20th murders were reported by the Herald. In that incident, the shooter and his three victims were Hispanic. The paper covered the killings with a 132-word story.

All of the above murders, plus 34 others that occurred in the Northside District in 2013, are listed on the Miami-Dade Police Department's General Investigations Unit Contact Shooting Log. (Embedded below.)

I learned of the existence of the Northside District shooting log earlier this week as I watched Local 10's Glenna Milberg report on yet another child wounded in a drive-by shooting.

Milberg wanted to know how many shootings had occurred last year in Northside District where the child lives. So she called Miami-Dade Police, and within an hour or two she had the document.

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

After watching Milberg's report, I was curious. But for a different reason.

So I also obtained a copy of the shooting log.

The Northside District, it turns out, is a very dangerous place to live.

The log shows that in 2013, 139 shootings occurred. Thirty-nine of those were homicides. And of the 139 shootings, detectives have managed to close just 28 cases. Of the homicides, they've closed only 9. One hundred nine shooting cases in the Northside District remain open or pending.

After looking at the numbers, I began to look at the names of the shooting victims. Then I started to run the names of the victims through the Herald archives.

What I found astounded me.

As far as I can tell, the Miami Herald - South Florida's paper of record for over 100 years, and the winner of two Pulitzer Prizes for its coverage of crime  - no longer covers murder. At least not in the Northside District. None of the names of the victims on the Northside District shooting log showed up in the Herald's story archives.

But this is nothing new. For years, the paper has ignored the epidemic of violent crime in some of Miami's poorest neighborhoods.

In 2010, I wrote this about the murder of Michael J. Beatty II in Liberty City.
Two weeks after 20 year-old Michael Beatty was gunned down in broad daylight near NW 15 Avenue & 59th Street in Liberty City, the Herald has yet to print one word on the crime.

Beatty's murder was caught on video from several angles. The video shows a man chasing Beatty with a weapon that resembles a Mac-10. Apparently the editors at the Herald consider a cold-blooded daylight murder in Liberty City just another day in the 'hood not worthy of reporting. Even though the story was reported on the website of a British newspaper.

Three and half years after Michael Beatty was gunned-down in cold blood, the Herald has yet to print one word on his murder.

Would the Herald have ignored the story of Michael Beatty's killing had he been white and had his killer chased him through the Village of Merrick Park in Coral Gables, spraying bullets from a Mac-10?

Or if his killer had shot him dead in front of a swanky half-million dollar Belle Isle condominium on Miami Beach?

By failing to report on violent crime in certain Miami neighborhoods, Herald editors seem to be sending an unequivocal message to their readers in those neighborhoods: "Your life has no worth. You are dirt-bags. We don't care about your story or about how much suffering you endure. It's not our problem. We don't live there. Besides, we're busy working on another page one story on Haiti."

Will any of this ever change? I wish I knew, but I don't have the answers.

But the Herald's managing editor, Rick Hirsch, and executive editor, Mindy Marques, do have the answers.

Why not call or email them and ask?

Rick Hirsch: Phone 305-376-3504.

Mindy Marques: Phone: 305-376-3429.