Monday, October 31, 2011

I-95 from the Golden Glades to US 1 in 6 minutes

Matt Drudge Buys a $1.45 Million "Safari Home" in Redland

Click image to enlarge.

Miami Herald gossip columnist Jose Lambiet reports that reclusive, right-wing, millionaire blogger Matt Drudge has bought a $1.45 million home in a secluded area of Miami-Dade County known as the Redland. Miami New Times calls it a "safari home."

From the Herald:
It pays to be the water-carrier of the Right.

Matt Drudge, the owner of the popular conservative news website Drudge Report, just bought a new house in South Miami-Dade.

He snagged the ranch place in Redland, an unincorporated area, for $1.45 million — cash.

It’s the 45-year-old Drudge’s second big home purchase in the county. According to records at the Miami-Dade County Property Appraiser’s Office, Drudge also owns a $1.4 million crib off the Venetian Causeway in Miami Beach. He bought it in 2003.

His new property on Southwest 157th Avenue boasts almost five acres of lush forest and a five-bedroom, 6,400-square-foot ranch house. It was described in real estate websites as “a safari-like” tropical retreat with a world-class security camera system, large entertainment gazebo, soothing waterfall in the master bathroom and a large Jacuzzi.
Aerial images on Google and Bing show a home that's almost completely hidden by trees.

Random Pixels spoke with a Redland resident who says that Drudge is a "lucky guy."

"That area is one of the most beautiful sections of the Redland. It's in the middle of a hardwood hammock full of mahogany and oak trees. It's choice and it's pristine," said my source.

Here are few photos of the property.

Click images to enlarge.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Carlos Gimenez: A progress report

Last June, Miami-Dade residents chose Carlos Gimenez as their mayor.

Gimenez campaigned on a promise to clean up county government. He replaced recalled mayor Carlos Alvarez, who himself had won two terms by pledging to clean up county government.

During the campaign, Gimenez told the Miami Herald, "County government is far too bloated. It currently has 60 departments, agencies and offices and could function efficiently with 25 departments, the same as the State. We will reorganize and consolidate county departments, eliminate unnecessary positions, and reduce top-level salaries and executive benefits."

And while Gimenez pledged to "reduce top-level salaries and executive benefits", one of his first orders of business upon taking office was trying to find ways to plug a $409 million budget gap by seeking concessions from rank and file and lower paid employees.

But, is Gimenez making any headway in reducing those "top-level salaries and benefits"?

He makes no mention of any such progress in a recent Miami Herald op-ed piece.

For the second year in a row I've obtained a list (embedded below) from Miami-Dade County titled "MIAMI‐DADE COUNTY GROSS EARNINGS EQUAL TO OR GREATER THAN $100K (SORTED BY DEPARTMENT) FY 2010‐11".

Last year's list was 79 pages and contained over 3,300 names. This year's list is 88 pages long and contains 3,125 names.
NOTE: Those listed below joined the County between July and September 2011.

Carlos A. Gimenez, Mayor
Salary: $150,000

Executive Benefits
· $10,000 Executive Benefits Allowance annually for deferred compensation contribution

Russell Benford, Deputy Mayor
Salary: $230,000

Executive Benefits
· $10,000 Executive Benefits Allowance annually
· Biweekly car allowance $187.50 ($4,875 annually)
· Participation in a 401(a) Supplemental Retirement Account ($1,500 per year)
· Annual physical exam with County provider (optional)

Genaro “Chip” Iglesias, Deputy Mayor and Chief of Staff
Salary: $225,000

Executive Benefits
· $10,000 Executive Benefits Allowance annually
· Biweekly car allowance $187.50 ($4,875 annually)
· Participation in a 401(a) Supplemental Retirement Account ($1,500 per year)
· Annual physical exam with County provider (optional)
Ed Marquez, Deputy Mayor
Salary: $267,000

Executive Benefits
· $10,000 Executive Benefits Allowance annually
· Biweekly car allowance $187.50 ($4,875 annually)
· Participation in a 401(a) Supplemental Retirement Account ($1,500 per year)
· Annual physical exam with County provider (optional)

Jack Osterholt, Deputy Mayor
Salary: $250,000

Executive Benefits
· $10,000 Executive Benefits Allowance annually
· Biweekly car allowance $187.50 ($4,875 annually)
· Participation in a 401(a) Supplemental Retirement Account ($1,500 per year)
· Annual physical exam with County provider (optional)

Inson Kim, Director of Policy and Legislation
Salary: $105,000

Lisa M. Martinez, Senior Advisor
Salary: $130,000
Some highlights:

The list shows that many executives received executive benefits and car allowances for FY 2010-11.

A quick scan shows that there are more than 60 employees classified as "county attorneys" or "assistant county attorneys" earning more than $100,000 annually. Many of those earn more than $200,000 a year.

A few more highlights:

  • At the top of the list is Alejandro Munoz, the newly appointed director of Animal Services. Munoz's salary is listed at $174,517 a year. His total adjusted pay is $183,463. Munoz also receives another $9,480 a year in "executive benefits and a car allowance of $4,518. His total insurance contribution is $10,834.

    (By way of comparison, Nick Wiley, the executive director for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission - a statewide law enforcement agency - earns an annual salary of $129,430 according to the Department of Management Services.

    In Los Angeles - a city of more than 9 million - the salary for the general manager of Animal Services is $170,000 annually.)

  • Kelvin Taylor, a corporal with 23 years of service in the Corrections department is listed at a current annual base salary of $68,882. His "annual adjusted salary" is $86,135. However, the list shows that Taylor also earned overtime of $48,434 that brought his "total adjusted pay" to $129,683.

  • Request FY 2010-2011 (Final )

    How to stay on top of the news in Miami

    Here's how English-speaking Miami Herald readers can stay on top of the latest news in Miami: Learn how to speak and read Spanish.

    One of the most popular stories on the Miami Herald's website Saturday was the tale of Fausto Lopez, a lead-footed City of Miami cop who was arrested at gunpoint by a Florida Highway Patrol trooper earlier this month after he was spotted zipping along a darkened stretch of the Florida Turnpike in his patrol car at 120 mph.

    However, for some unexplained reason the story wasn't available to readers of the print edition of Saturday's Herald.

    But, the story did make it into print and was displayed on page one of the Saturday edition of El Nuevo Herald.

    (The story finally appears - 24 hours late - in Sunday's Miami Herald...on page 1B.)

    Meanwhile, readers of Sunday's El Nuevo Herald are learning new details related to this story that aren't available to readers of the Miami Herald.

    In a page one, above-the-fold story, in today's paper headlined, "Regalado: ‘Nadie debe manejar a 120 mph’ ", ("Regalado: 'No one should drive at 120 mph' "), El Nuevo's Juan Carlos Chavez advances story by getting comments from Miami mayor Tomas Regalado, Miami police chief Manuel Orosa and three Miami commissioners.
    "A police officer can not do what any citizen can not do," said Regalado. "No one should drive 120 miles per hour. Obviously, the FHP and saw him. "

    Manuel Orosa, acting chief of police, told El Nuevo Herald that any person driving at that speed is seriously endangering public safety. He said he has ordered an investigation to find out more.

    "We learned that night and immediately sent to our Internal Affairs agents to contact the Highway Patrol Florida (FHP)," said Orosa. "About two days ago we were sent a copy of the video and now we are investigating administratively."

    -translation via Google Translate.
    Regalado also told El Nuevo's Chavez that cops who live outside Miami city limits are charged 40 cents per mile to drive their police cars home. Regalado also revealed that only about 10 percent of Miami's 1,100 officers live in the city of Miami.

    I'm guessing that all of this will eventually show up in the Herald. And then again, maybe not.

    Until then, I'm brushing up on my Spanish.

    Saturday, October 29, 2011

    The Random Pixels Losers Corner welcomes...

    ...Miami police officer Fausto Lopez.

    Watch as Lopez, in the video above, is led away from his police car in handcuffs by a Florida Highway Patrol trooper after being stopped for driving 120 mph last October 11th at 6:30 in the morning.

    From CBS Miami:
    A City of Miami Police officer was pulled over by the Florida Highway Patrol after allegedly excessively speeding on the Turnpike.

    According to the incident report, the FHP officer was traveling southbound on the Turnpike on October 11th at around 6:30 a.m. near mile marker 62 when a marked Miami Police cruiser passed her at a high rate of speed.

    “Based on her observation of the driving pattern of the vehicle she conducted a traffic stop and detained the driver to determine why he was driving in that fashion,” said FHP Sgt. Mark Wysocky.

    Screen grab from an FHP dashboard camera shows Miami police officer Fausto Lopez under arrest on Oct. 11, 2011.
    The trooper activated her emergency lights and attempted to pull over the car, but the report claims the car sped ahead weaving in and out of traffic. The trooper noted that at time, the car reached speeds in excess of 120 miles per hour.

    (Entire FHP dash-cam video here.)

    When the trooper was finally able to pull the car over at mile marker 50.5. She approached the car with her gun drawn and noticed that the driver was a City of Miami police officer in full uniform. The officer, identified as Fausto Lopez, 35, told the trooper that en route to an off-duty detail and he had to be there by 7:00 a.m.
    We thought we'd pretty much heard it all, but this one takes the cake.

    Driving like a dumb-ass and passing a state trooper at 120 mph.

    Don't they give intelligence tests to Miami cops?

    Congratulations Ofc. Lopez. You're the newest inductee into the Random Pixels Losers Corner!

    Friday, October 28, 2011

    Miracle dog survives gas chamber, up for adoption in New Jersey

    From the Associated Press:
    NEWARK, N.J. (AP) -- Unnamed and unwanted, the young beagle mix was left anonymously in a drop box outside an Alabama pound. His life was supposed to end in a gas chamber.

    Instead, the young stray emerged frightened but unscathed, wagging his tail. Now, he's being hailed as a miracle dog, given the name Daniel after the biblical figure who survived the lion's den.

    And he has a fresh start in New Jersey, where a rescue group hopes to find him a good home.

    Only three animals have survived the gas chamber at the Animal Control facility in Florence, Ala., in the past 12 years. "Maybe God just had a better plan for this one," said city spokesman Phil Stevenson.

    View more videos at:

    Bad Lip Reading presents Herman Cain's Vision for America.

    Herman Cain lays it on the line, warning against "big potato moths".

    Your (earlier than usual) lunch hour time waster

    Brian Williams, Jimmy Fallon, And The Roots 'Slow-Jam' Occupy Wall Street

    Thursday, October 27, 2011

    On Nov. 1, Miami Beach voters have a clear choice

    "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." - Albert Einstein

    Miami Beach mayor Matti Bower is proud of her 12 years as a Miami Beach commissioner and mayor.

    As a part of Miami Beach's leadership for a dozen years, she's had at least 10 years to do something about the crime and chaos that accompany Urban Beach Weekend, (UBW.)

    In 2001, the first UBW transformed Miami Beach into - as Miami New Times called it then - "Thug Central."

    Hundreds of thousands of celebrants have descended on Miami Beach 10 more times since that first Urban Beach Weekend in 2001.

    Defenders of the weekend festivities say that people who attend UBW are no different than any other large group of people who come to Miami Beach.

    Computer salesmen, travel agents and boat manufacturers visit Miami Beach for conventions and trade shows at various times throughout the year. UBW participants are no different than those people say defenders of the weekend.

    But, since 2001 more than 5,000 UBW attendees have been arrested.

    And, despite demands by Miami Beach residents for city hall to do something - anything - about UBW, Mayor Matti Bower says she's powerless.

    Last June 6, the Miami Herald's David Smiley reported, "Bower has stressed that the city has little control over an annual festival that is promoted and held without need for city approval, vented that the American Civil Liberties Union “ties our hands” when it comes to strict police enforcement during the weekend, and committed to discuss solutions — later."

    You read that right. After 10 years of mayhem, Bower says her hands are tied by the ACLU. But, she's ready to "discuss solutions." Maybe.

    Mayoral candidate Steve Berke says he has a plan ready now.
    As Mayor of Miami Beach, Steve Berke will be honored to host our servicemen and women and thank them for their commitment to our country by throwing the biggest celebration of our generation at the inaugural VETERANS BEACH WEEKEND.

    This weekend of festivities would occur during Memorial Day Weekend, and would replace the current "Urban Beach Weekend" that has consistently been the number 1 complaint of Miami Beach residents. Steve has a comprehensive plan to get rid of Urban Beach Weekend within one year, and it includes having a Veterans Parade, an Air and Sea Show, a Military Memorabilia Exhibition at the Miami Beach Convention Center, concerts on the beach, and a host of other events and parties that will remind our honored guests just what they were fighting for whether they served in WWII or Afghanistan, Korea or Iraq, Vietnam or the Gulf.
    On Nov. 1, Miami Beach residents have a clear choice.

    They can vote for two more years of Matti Bower's indecision and ineptitude.

    Or they can vote for someone who has a plan ready now to deal with the problems associated with UBW.

    Do Miami Beach residents really want a mayor who gets her marching orders from the ACLU?

    Or do they want a mayor who will ensure that Miami Beach will, once again, become a clean and safe place that ALL Miami Beach residents can enjoy 365 days a year?

    Miami Beach voters: The ball is in your court.

    Targeted marketing in Hialeah....

    ...a place like no other.

    Billboard for the McRib at Okeechobee Rd. and West 8th Ave. in Hialeah.

    Tuesday, October 25, 2011

    The McRib is back

    The McRib is back.

    The sandwich, "which has no actual ribs — [is] a cult favorite," reports the Los Angeles Times.

    McRib fans couldn't be happier.

    "The McRib is trending. Take THAT, terrorism," Tweeted Damon Lindelof, co-creator of the television series "Lost."

    Here's a McRib ad from 1991.

    Monday, October 24, 2011

    The way we were...Miami: Its early days as a Banana Republic

    Miami News cartoon by Don Wright, Oct. 26, 1984. (Click image to enlarge)

    Twenty-seven years ago this week, Miami city manager Howard Gary was fired. It caused a spectacle that makes recent events seem tame by comparison.

    Friday, October 26, 1984
    Herald Staff Writer

    Howard V. Gary, who as Miami's first black city manager guided the city through the turbulent years following the 1980 riots, was fired Thursday before an angry, chanting, predominantly black crowd at a junior high school in Wynwood.

    Mayor Maurice Ferre provided the decisive vote, citing differences with Gary's "personal style." As the stormy meeting ended, almost a dozen police escorted Ferre from the auditorium while Gary backers surrounded him, taunting and shouting.

    Ferre joined persistent Gary critic Joe Carollo and Commissioner Demetrio Perez Jr. in voting against the manager. Commissioner Miller Dawkins and J.L. Plummer supported Gary.

    Despite the vote, Gary effectively remains city manager for 30 days and, under the city charter, may appeal the firing no sooner than 20 days but before the 30 days are up, said City Attorney Lucia Allen Dougherty. "He is still city manager," she said.

    Late Thursday, Ferre, accompanied by two police guards, held a press conference and called on Gary "to recuse himself" from office immediately.

    Ferre said he will convene a special committee to search for Gary's replacement and ask former Gov. Reubin Askew to head the committee.

    Moments after the vote, police patrols mobilized at two locations near the Robert E. Lee Junior High School, 3100 NW Fifth Ave. in Wynwood, where the commission meeting was held. Maj. Jack Sullivan said no extra police were called in, but the normal complement of 65 squad cars and 86 officers was deployed to potential trouble spots.

    Police in Miami Beach also went on alert. County and city officials, including Gary, took to the streets to try to keep calm.

    Latin and black radio commentators urged people to stay home.

    Gary, who graduated from Miami Northwestern High, only a few miles from where he was fired, took the dismissal calmly. Speaking in soft, measured tones, he said he learned of his impending dismissal from Ferre through an intermediary late Wednesday night. The intermediary later was identified as Miami developer David Weaver.

    "I didn't have any forewarning until late last night," he said. "I was surprised. My performance, I think, was excellent. Read the comment of the mayor during my last review. . . . I think it was an issue of personalities and relationships. I'm a little disappointed."

    Ferre said he offered Gary "an opportunity to resign in 60 days, an opportunity to do it gracefully. He rejected that."

    Gary, who at $106,871 a year is the highest paid city manager in the nation, said that "at this point" he plans an appeal, as provided by the charter.
    In editorials, both the Miami News and Miami Herald called for the ouster of the Miami City Commission.

    From the Miami News editorial:
    Think about it: In less than a year, Miami public officials have given the city, county, state, nation and the world a city commissioner who makes a political deal with the mayor and then at a press conference pulls out his political shiv and gives the mayor a stab in the back unlike anything since Brutus turned on Caesar; a city manager who fired the police chief for insubordination at 2:47a.m. amid a swirl of rumors about public safety and security; a commissioner, the one with the courage to confront his political foe from the blind side, who stands up at a public meeting and with the wave of a hand and the flash of papers sweepingly implies that the city manager is involved in laudering drug money.

    Saturday, October 22, 2011

    Is Marco Rubio a liar? [UPDATE x2]

    The Miami News, Jan. 2, 1959

    UPDATE: The Miami Herald's Marc Caputo has posted an update on the Rubio story on the Herald's Naked Politics blog using some of the information contained in my post below.

    (On Thursday, Caputo also questioned whether the Washington Post embellished their story on Marco Rubio's alleged 'embellishments'.)

    As I sit down to write this post at a little after 9pm on Saturday, the most viewed story on the Miami Herald's website is an analysis of a controversial Washington Post article that charges Florida Sen. Marco Rubio misstated the date of his parents' arrival in the U.S. from Cuba.

    The Herald analysis, written by veteran political reporter Marc Caputo has generated over 640 reader comments.

    In his analysis, Caputo fact checks a story by Post writer Manuel Roig-Franzia that says:
    During his rise to political prominence, Sen. Marco Rubio frequently repeated a compelling version of his family’s history that had special resonance in South Florida. He was the “son of exiles,” he told audiences, Cuban Americans forced off their beloved island after “a thug,” Fidel Castro, took power.

    But a review of documents — including naturalization papers and other official records — reveals that the Florida Republican’s account embellishes the facts. The documents show that Rubio’s parents came to the United States and were admitted for permanent residence more than two-and-a-half years before Castro’s forces overthrew the Cuban government and took power on New Year’s Day 1959.
    Roig-Franzia continues for another 1600 words, essentially harping on the same thing over and over again, which is that Rubio had claimed his parents had come to the United States before Fidel Castro seized power, not after and the year was 1956, not 1959.

    Roig-Franzia told MSNBC's Chris Matthews he discovered the discrepancies while researching a book on Rubio. (UPDATE: Politico reports that Roig-Franzia's story followed by a day a St. Petersburg Times report about "birthers’ concerns that Rubio might not be eligible for higher office because his parents were not citizens when he was born. The story mentioned the potentially explosive nugget about the true date of his parents’ arrival – but in the 25th paragraph.")

    As I plodded through Roig-Franzia's breathless revelations, I kept waiting for him to get to the real point of the piece: Perhaps while he was examining the Rubio family's naturalization papers and social security documents he discovered that Rubio has been hiding the identity of the man on the grassy knoll or that Rubio knew the location of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction.

    No such luck.

    It takes Roig Franzia 1600 words to tell his readers that Rubio has been fudging on the year his parents came to Miami.

    Well, stop the presses!

    Rubio isn't be the first politician to embellish his record. And he won't be the last.

    But, who can blame him?

    His choice was clear.

    Claim your parents came to the U.S. in 1956 to escape the brutal repression of the long-dead dictator Batista who no one remembers.

    Or you can say your parents fled the Communist Castro regime in 1959. Use the word communism in Miami and you get attention.

    Besides, what's a little embellishment among friends?

    Hang around outside the Versailles any night and listen to the stories of the old men who gather there. You'll leave convinced that every Cuban male in Miami over the age of 60 worked for the CIA at one time.

    In his analysis of the Post story, Caputo raises another question confronting Rubio: "Beyond the typical conservative-liberal feud, the issue became a point of departure over immigration and just what constitutes a political 'exile.' "

    In a 2006 address in the Florida House, the Herald's Caputo writes that "Rubio didn’t say that his parents fled the island nation and he wasn’t referring to just those who specifically fled Cuba after Castro took power. Instead, he specifically said he was talking about "a community of exiles." That is: He was talking about all the Cubans who live in Miami."

    So, the question is: Can Rubio claim his parents were "exiles" fleeing repression? Or were they simply immigrants coming to America for a better life?

    I did a little checking and found something that none of the writers examining this issue have bothered to mention.

    Miami has been home to many who, years before Castro even thought of taking power, have called themselves "exiles."

    Here are a just a few of the many articles the old Miami News published before 1959 that refer to Miami Cubans as "exiles."

    from the Miami News, Jan. 10, 1954.

    from the Miami News, March 27, 1955.

    from the Miami News, Oct. 30, 1956.

    And finally, here's a Miami News story about a Cuban exile who lived in Daytona Beach in 1948, and who one day hoped to return to Cuba.

    His name was Fulgencio Batista.

    Click to enlarge.

    Friday, October 21, 2011

    New video shows Gaddafi's last minutes

    From the New York Times:
    The first images of Colonel Gaddafi in captivity (embedded at the top of this post) appear to have been taken by Ali Algadi, a rebel fighter with an iPhone. Mr. Algadi told the American news site GlobalPost, which obtained and published his video, that he began recording just seconds after the former Libyan leader was dragged from a drainage pipe beneath a road near the city of Surt on Thursday.

    While the scene is chaotic, and the iPhone footage is shaky, it is clear that Colonel Gaddafi was still alive when he was captured and able to stand, although he was clearly dazed and the left side of his face was splattered with blood. The video also shows that several of the men who took custody of the deposed leader were dressed in camouflage shirts or pants, and at least one man in the background seems to have been wearing what looks like a bulletproof vest.

    Random Pixels recognizes....

    Click image to enlarge.

    ...the staff at El Nuevo Herald for pulling out all the stops and producing a gripping front page with pictures that dramatically conveyed yesterday's dramatic events in Libya that culminated in the capture and death of Moammar Gadhafi.

    Legendary Miami Herald reporter Edna Buchanan once told a writer that her "idea of a successful lead is one that might cause a reader who is having breakfast with his wife to "spit out his coffee, clutch his chest, and say, 'My God, Martha! Did you read this!'"

    So, who says a newspaper's front page can't elicit the same reaction?

    The editors of the Miami Herald; that's who.

    The decision makers at Miami's last remaining English language daily newspaper chose to produce a front page tailor-made for the Sesame Street crowd; not sophisticated, adult readers.

    In a note to the newsroom, here's how Herald interactive editor Nancy San Martin explained why her paper chose the vanilla approach to a historic news event.
    Dramatic 1A display.

    We wrestled with photo choice and continued to have a difference of opinion on whether we made the right call.

    Among the issues to consider when making call is the difference between online and print: Online visits have a choice on whether to look at the graphic images (there is a warning posted online.)

    Displaying it in paper does not give readers a choice.
    Late this afternoon as I chatted with Channel 10's Michael Putney, I asked if he had seen both front pages.

    "Yes," he said.

    What did you think? I asked.

    "El Nuevo's front page had real news," he said adding, "I don't know why they [Herald editors] are protecting their readers."

    But as good as El Nuevo's front page was, we think it takes a back seat to today's New York Post cover. It's a home run!

    Front page images via the Newseum.

    For more front page images click here.

    Leadership vs Grandstanding

    President Obama: "All U.S. Troops In Iraq Will Be Home For The Holidays."

    Thursday, October 20, 2011

    The Miami-Dade County shell game continues
    In an Oct. 13 Miami Herald story headlined "Miami-Dade’s Gimenez reshuffles County Hall, keeps department heads at their current salaries", staff writer Martha Brannigan reported,
    Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez named five new department directors and two interim heads this week as he slashes the number of county departments to 25 from 42.

    But don’t weep for those gold-plated bureaucrats left without a seat when the music stopped.

    Most of the displaced department heads are staying on — at their current six-figure salaries – at least until the new department directors figure out how to revamp their refashioned empires in a quest for efficiency.
    County spokeswoman Suzy Trutie confirmed that displaced department heads “will continue working in their respective departments’’ indefinitely, while the new bosses figure out how to organize and streamline operations. It’s unclear how long that might take.
    In an answer given in response to a Miami Herald editorial board questionnaire, Gimenez wrote: "County government is far too bloated. It currently has 60 departments, agencies and offices and could function efficiently with 25 departments, the same as the State. We will reorganize and consolidate county departments, eliminate unnecessary positions, and reduce top-level salaries and executive benefits."

    So how's the mayor doing in his quest to get rid of the "bloating?"

    A couple of weeks ago, 555 county employees received lay-off notices.

    It remains to be seen how many of those will actually be laid-off.

    One of those receiving a pink slip was Victoria Mallette-O'Bryan, an "Emergency Management Governmental Coordinator" at the County's Office of Emergency Management. Before joining OEM, Mallette-O'Bryan was the spokesperson for former mayor Carlos Alvarez.

    But, to paraphrase Martha Brannigan, "don’t weep for Victoria Mallette-O'Bryan."

    Random Pixels has learned that within days of receiving her pink slip, Mallette-O'Bryan was on her way to another well-paid county job....for the time being.

    County spokesperson Suzy Trutie tells me in an email that "Mallete-O’Bryan is temporarily on loan to the Parks, Recreation, and Open Spaces Department pending the results of recruitment. Victoria Mallette O’Bryan’s salary is $85,020.00, minus 10% salary contribution towards healthcare."

    Additionally, Trutie sent me this information on George Navarrete and Marlen Brant, former director and assistant director respectively of Miami-Dade's Office of Capital Improvements.

    "George Navarrete, and Marlen Brant are on loan to the Parks, Recreation, and Open Spaces Department pending the finalization of the department’s restructuring. George Navarrete’s salary is $181,485.98, minus 10% salary contribution towards healthcare. Marlen Brant’s salary is $103,145.90, minus 10% salary contribution towards healthcare."

    Now, here's a little background the Parks, Recreation, and Open Spaces Department.

    The director of Parks and Recreation is Jack Kardys.

    Kardys has been with the county for 30 years. He was appointed to the parks department in 2007 after then mayor Carlos Alvarez fired Donnell Rodriguez, who had been heading the department.

    From an Aug. 14, 2007 Miami Herald story:
    Continuing to flex his new power over Miami-Dade County government, Mayor Carlos Alvarez on Monday demanded the resignation of Parks and Recreation Director Vivian Donnell Rodriguez.

    His administration gave no immediate explanation for her removal. A memo from County Manager George Burgess said only that Donnell Rodriguez "is separating from the county," effective immediately.

    "I will not detail the reasons behind Ms. Donnell Rodriguez's departure, but wish her much success in future endeavors," Alvarez said in a brief written statement.

    His spokeswoman, Victoria Mallette, said Donnell Rodriguez "was asked to resign and she accepted."

    Donnell Rodriguez said it was "a mutual parting of the ways," but also said she "didn't know it was coming."

    "It was surprising but not shocking," Donnell Rodriguez told The Miami Herald.

    She said Burgess asked to meet with her Monday morning, and Alvarez was not present.
    In Feb., 2011, Kardys showed Alvarez just how grateful he was for his job.

    He played a major part in the effort to prevent the recall of Alvarez.

    From a March 9, 2011 Miami Herald story:
    On Feb. 10, the entire county parks department – numbering nearly 1,000 full-time employees – was ordered to attend, on taxpayer time, a 10 a.m. meeting at the Dade County Auditorium. The featured speaker: County manager George Burgess.

    “This meeting is mandatory for all staff (both full time and part time) regardless of their schedule,” said an email sent on behalf of county parks director Jack Kardys . County park and facilities would be staffed with “a skeleton crew.”

    At the meeting, Burgess railed against what he claimed were misrepresentations in the local media about the budget pushed by Alvarez last September. Then he said he wanted to discuss the “elephant in the room:” Without mentioning Alvarez or the recall, Burgess said: “If this passes, we all better be worried.”

    Burgess told The Herald his intention was just to inform employees about the choices ahead. “I don’t want to brainwash them,’’ he said. “There are no expectations they have to act a certain way.”
    So, if Gimenez campaigned on a platform of reform, why isn't he "reforming" instead of re-shuffling.

    One long-time observer of county politics put it to me this way: "What you have to understand Bill is that both Alvarez and Gimenez ran on promises to reform the system. But once they got in they became defenders of the system. I'll bet that when this is all over, no more than a few dozen people will be out of a job."

    And another source told me, "For the life of me, I do not understand why Gimenez has kept all of those Alvarez loyalists. He will regret it later."

    Creepiest moment from Tuesday's Republican debate in Las Vegas

    If you watched Tuesday's Republican debate from Las Vegas Tuesday but didn't bother to stick around for the after-party, then you missed the creepiest moment of the night.

    From Yahoo News:
    In a post-debate interview on Fox News' On The Record with Greta Van Susteren, Newton and Bachmann hit it off.

    "I will support this beautiful lady as long as she wants to go," Newton said, as he repeatedly caressed Bachmann's arm.

    "That's pretty hot," Van Susteren said.

    At the end of the clip, Newton moves in for a kiss, which Bachmann adroitly dodges so that it lands on her forehead.

    Wednesday, October 19, 2011

    Random Pixels endorses Steve Berke for Miami Beach mayor

    Click image to enlarge.

    "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." - Albert Einstein

    That quote by Albert Einstein pretty much sums up the choice Miami Beach voters face when they go to the polls on Nov. 1.

    They can give Matti Bower a third two year term as mayor, cross their fingers and hope things on Miami Beach don't get any more insane.

    Or they can usher in some change.

    Steve Berke says he's the guy who can do that.

    There are stark differences between Berke and Bower.

    In the video below, Steve Berke says he plans to deal with the problems that face Miami Beach. He ticks off his points clearly and intelligently.

    Bower starts off by thanking voters for "giving me the best years of my life working for you in Miami Beach. It's hard to believe it has been 12 years since you chose me as the first Hispanic woman on the city commission."

    That's really all you need to hear from Bower. She's had 12 years years to deal some serious problems and she's done nothing.

    For the past 10 years Bower has had a chance to do something about the disaster called Urban Beach Weekend. She's done nothing.

    She insists her hands are tied and she can't stop people from coming to the Beach.

    Back in June Bower wrote in a Miami Herald op-ed, "We can and will find ways to keep wrong-doers from returning to our city and to send a message that such behavior is not tolerated."  Yeah, when you going to start Matti?

    The much larger city of Atlanta figured out how to take their city back. Why can't Miami Beach?

    You've had 10 years Matti. It's too late.

    Bower's been a Miami Beach official for 12 years - the past 4 as mayor - but she's apparently been in the dark about the frat house atmosphere that's thoroughly entrenched in the Miami Beach police department.

    Matti Bower's had her chance.

    On Nov. 1 Miami Beach residents can vote for change.

    They can give Steve Berke a chance to put the brakes on the insanity.

    Or they can put on their crash helmets and join Bower for another wild, two-year ride in Matti's Crazy Clown Car.

    Tuesday, October 18, 2011

    Miami Beach seeks new police chief - current members 'need not apply'

    Click image to enlarge.

    Back on Sept. 15, the Miami Herald's David Smiley reported, "A search for a new Miami Beach chief of police will begin this month, and one elected official says members of the city’s embattled police department need not apply."

    The story, posted on the paper's website, received little attention.

    Smiley quoted Miami Beach Commissioner Ed Tobin as saying, "“The present candidate for chief, the assistant chief, [Ray Martinez] has been here for 10 years and I would say that I think the police department needs some fresh blood for a lot of different reasons.”

    Commissioner Jerry Libbin told Smiley, “We probably will end up outside but I’m not opposed to looking inside” the department.

    The City has already posted the chief's job on its website. (See screenshot above.)

    Today, in a post on Facebook directed at Mayor Matti Bower and five of the Beach's 7 commissioners, Miami Beach resident and filmmaker Alfred Spellman asked, "So, what's going to be done" about Miami Beach's dysfunctional police department.

    Commissioner Jerry Libbin was the only elected official to respond to Spellman's post:
    Thank you for the link. I am fed up with the continuing revelations about our police department. That's why i have been adamant about the need for a new police chief who is committed to dealing with these issues and restoring confidence in the department. This means bringing in someone from the outside, as opposed to promoting from within. The search process for a new chief should be completed within the next 6-8 weeks. Then I hope it's a new day for the department. Stay tuned.
    Libbin's adamant insistence that the search for a new chief be conducted outside the department means that he and Tobin need just two more commissioners to side with them.

    Spellman responded to Libbin by saying:
    Jerry I appreciate your response and I agree that an outsider needs to be hired. However what this really boils down to is accountability. Why are the officers who defrauded the citizens of Miami Beach for overtime pay being demoted rather than fired and referred to the State Attorney's Office for prosecution? Considering what Tim Elfrink at the New Times uncovered about the amount of overtime paid to officers over the past several years and in light of the recent overtime fraud exposed in David Smiley's reporting on the ATV scandal, would you call on Kathy Rundle's office to investigate the Dept to determine if the fraud and abuse is more widespread?
    Then it was Miami Beach filmmaker Billy Corben's turn to weigh in. And he didn't hold back:
    ‎Jerry: You "hope it's a new day for the department?" That doesn't sound very promising. Why not clean house and make it happen? This has been going on for decades. Anyone in the private sector found to be committing this kind of fraud would be fired immediately. Your plan is to have Chief Noriega retire and the taxpayers finance his pension after he resided over what appears to be an out-of-control criminal organization? How do you expect a new day for the department when there is no legitimate accountability? I wonder what David Smiley will dig up next...

    Visit to new Marlins stadium will include 'authentic South Beach douche-bag experience'

    The Miami Marlins aren't taking any chances.

    In order to ensure that games played in their new multi million dollar stadium will have maximum attendance, the team is taking an extraordinary step that all but guarantees a good part of their fans will be Genuine South Beach Douche-Bags.

    From Eater Miami:
    The Clevelander, ...has apparently built a poolside grill out of--er, in left field. Says a press release, the "new, re-branded poolside bar and grill will bring a unique and authentic South Beach experience to all fans. The redesigned entertainment area in left field will be open year-round and will be Miami’s new hot spot for many years to come."
    No word yet on whether the Clevelander plans to have drunk, on-duty Miami Beach cops mingling with patrons in order to maximize the "authentic South Beach experience."

    Monday, October 17, 2011

    Miami: So much to see, so little time

    You know the feeling.

    You have guests coming to visit you in Miami for the first time.

    They want to see the city, but they're only going to be here a few days and you've already packed their schedule with visits to restaurants and relatives.

    But, if you can find four hours, you can show them the city and not even break a sweat.

    Or, as the Miami Herald says in a story posted today on the paper's website, you can see "A century [of Miami] in four hours."

    Writing about the Miami Tour Company, Herald staffer Lidia Dinkova says that locals pick the popular tour company to show off Miami to their out-of-town friends.

    Miami Tour driver/guide Jim Moore told the Herald, "“It gives them the character of the city rather than just one little stroll down Ocean Drive.”

    I can attest to everything Jim says.

    I've been a Miami Tour Company guest on two occasions

    And I'll be riding with with them a third time next month when friends come into town.

    Your lunch hour time waster

    Have you had lunch yet?

    Here's the Monday edition of the Random Pixels Lunch Hour Time Waster featuring a very sexy food video by Daan Oskam and Frenkel Schonfeld.

    The way we were...Miami Beach outlaws 'vermin and wild animals'

    From the Miami Daily News, Sept. 22, 1954...

    Miami Beach passes an ordinance "outlawing vermin and wild animals."

    While the law didn't specify what kinds of "wild animals" were illegal, Mayor Harold Shapiro told a reporter "that the ordinance was aimed at people keeping ocelots and other wildcats."

    Saturday, October 15, 2011

    Your tax dollars at work

    Three Miami-Dade police officers drive their patrol cars home to Collier County each day.
    The cost to taxpayers is $10,000 a year in gas alone for each car.

    UPDATE: On July 18, the Eye on Miami blog actually beat Ch. 10 to the punch when it posted county documents that estimate the cost of take home vehicles (THV) to Miami-Dade taxpayers.

    Twenty years ago, Dade County commissioners were deciding whether or not to approve a plan that would give take-home patrol cars to 1,159 Metro-Dade police officers.

    In an Aug. 12, 1991 story,  Miami Herald reporter Gail Epstein wrote, "The Dade Police Benevolent Association and Commissioner Arthur Teele are pushing the idea, which they say would increase police visibility and reduce crime."

    Epstein wrote that the county manager's office estimated "the take-home car program would cost an additional $90 million over the next decade," adding...
    County Manager Joaquin Avino thinks that money could be better spent when it comes to fighting crime in unincorporated Dade.

    "Nothing that we've been able to compile in a nationwide search indicates a direct relationship between the take-home car program and a reduction in crime," said Aristides Rivera, executive assistant to the manager. "So it boils down to maybe a matter of perception, that the officer being more visible reduces crime."
    Looks like Avino was right.

    Take-home police cars - which cost taxpayers millions - don't deter crime.

    This week we learned that thieves actually seek out marked police cars to break into....while they are parked in front of officers' homes. From NBC Miami:
    Miami-Dade Police are looking for a group of brazen car burglars who were caught on video breaking into cop cars [parked in front of the officers' homes] and stealing a gun and ammo.

    Eight vehicles, including three marked Miami-Dade Police cruisers and a federal law enforcement vehicle, were burglarized in Cutler Bay between Oct. 3 and Oct. 11, Miami-Dade Police spokesman Roy Rutland said.

    The burglaries happened in the area of Southwest 210th Place and 211th Lane, between 90th Place and 92nd Avenue, and were caught on surveillance video Rutland said. The suspects were seen leaving in a white Ford Explorer.

    Items taken included a semi-automatic pistol, ammunition, and miscellaneous personal items.
    No one would argue with the fact that it's essential for some cops to take their police vehicles home. Members of SWAT are on call 24 hours a day and need to be able to respond to emergency situations rapidly.

    But does the same hold true for a cop who drives a take-home car but who has a desk job and works 9 to 5?

    And then there's the matter of some cops who live outside of Miami-Dade County.

    On Friday's late news on Local 10, investigative reporter Jeff Weinsier reported that three Miami-Dade police officers drive their patrol cars home, across the state, to Naples in Collier County daily.

    (Click here watch Weinsier's report.)

    "It's 121 miles one way, 242 miles round trip and 1,210 miles a week to get to work. That's $10,000 in gas for just one officer to get to and from work a year," Weinsier reported.

    Also from Weinsier's report:
    Local 10 has also learned 10 officers drive their Miami-Dade police cars home to Palm Beach County. As of August, a total of 2,650 marked and unmarked Miami-Dade police cars go home with officers.

    According to information provided to Local 10 by the department, 2,161 officers live in Miami-Dade, 472 live in Broward County, 10 live in and drive to Palm Beach County, four officers live in Monroe County and three live in and drive across the state to Collier County.

    The mayor's office said total take-home costs in gas, insurance and maintenance are close to $7 million a year in tax money. Total take-home costs for the cars that go out of Miami-Dade County are $1.4 million in tax money per year.
    The police department isn't the only county entity that's pissing away taxpayers' money.

    Additionally, on Local 10's 6pm news, Weinsier reported
    A captain assigned to the Training Bureau drives a full-size, four-wheel-drive Miami-Dade Fire Rescue pickup truck to northwestern Palm Beach County, where he lives, after every shift.

    According to Google Maps, it's 85 miles one way from the Training Facility at Doral headquarters to his house. That's 170 miles round trip and 680 miles to and from the office for his four-day work week.

    It costs Miami-Dade taxpayers $200 a week in gas for that one employee to drive the truck between work and home.
    But the part of Weinsier's report that almost caused me to fall out of my chair was this response from Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez: "A lot of this is a legacy thing. People have gotten cars as part of a compensation package or to make the job more attractive."

    Memo to Mayor Gimenez: Excuse me? Make the job more attractive?? Seems to me in these tough times, the fact they even have a job should be attractive enough! Please put an end to wasteful practice now!

    Fast food will make you stupid

    I guess this guy wasn't fully rehabilitated.

    From the New York Daily News:
    A McDonald's cashier with a manslaughter rap was caught on camera savagely beating two women with a metal bar inside the Greenwich Village franchise on Thursday, police said.

    Rayon McIntosh, 31, beat down the female customers after they attacked him following an argument over the veracity of a $50 bill inside the W. Third St. restaurant, police said.

    He can be seen in the video repeatedly striking the women, who had jumped behind the counter, even after they were on the ground, as horrified customers' screamed and pleaded for him to stop.

    McIntosh was arrested and charged with assault, police said. He was held on $40,000 bail.

    Republican Presidential Campaign Wrap-up

    Here are a few items from the campaign trail this week you may have missed.

    Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

    Thursday, October 13, 2011

    Here's a list of Miami-Dade County employees who received lay-off notices this week

    UPDATE: Miami New Times staff writer Frank Alvarado doesn't think there's much difference between Mayor Carlos Gimenez and his predecessor.

    Random Pixels has obtained a list of 555 Miami-Dade employees who received lay-off notices this week.

    According to a note attached to the list, it's "comprised of 555 employees – 290 with classified service rights and 265 with no classified service rights. Those individuals with N/A under new department and new title have been referred to pipeline transition."

    One notable name on the list is Victoria Mallette O'Bryan. O'Bryan was once Mayor Carlos Alvarez's $125,000 a year director of communications.

    When Alvarez was recalled by county voters last March, O'Bryan was transferred to the County's Office of Emergency Management and given the title of "Emergency Management Governmental Coordinator." Her salary: $85,020 a year.

    Of course, as we've learned in the past, losing your cushy county job doesn't really mean you lose your cushy county job as the Miami Herald's Martha Brannigan explained in today's paper:
    Roughly 40 of the 555 pink slips delivered to employees last week reflected the elimination of duplication “in administration, back-of-house and IT-type jobs’’ resulting from the reorganization. Under civil-service rules, many of those workers will have a chance to bump others from jobs or to fill funded vacancies.

    Layoff Report 10-12-11 Public Record Req

    Another cop to be fired in Miami Beach ATV crash


    From the Miami Herald:
    A third Miami Beach police officer has been notified that he will be fired in connection with a near fatal July 3 accident in which a cop is accused of drinking on duty then taking a bachelorette on a drunk joyride on his city-owned ATV.

    Sgt. Manuel Moraga was served [Wednesday] with a notice of the city’s intent to discipline (see document below) him for gross negligence for leaving his midnight shift early, thereby leaving officers under his command unsupervised and whole sections of the city without proper police supervision.
    According to the internal affairs probe, Moraga supervised Rolando Gutierrez, who, together with officer Derick Kuilan, were drinking and partying at the Clevelander bar during the early morning hours of July 3. Moraga had assigned Gutierrez to patrol mid-beach and, according to the investigation, apparently ignored repeated radio transmissions indicating that Gutierrez was not in his assigned area throughout most of the shift.

    Gutierrez and Kuilan were instead frolicking with women at the Clevelander, and it was Kuilan who crashed his ATV into two beachgoers as he sped down the coastline about 5:15 a.m. with the bride-to-be on the back of his vehicle and his lights off. Blood-alcohol tests showed that both officers were under the influence of alcohol.

    After the crash, an emergency call went out, and Gutierrez then reported to his assigned area in mid-beach. When one of the woman at the bar told first-responders at the crash scene that the two officers had been drinking, Gutierrez and Kuilan were ordered to police headquarters.

    Moraga told investigators he was not aware that his subordinate, Gutierrez, was called to police headquarters over the radio even though Moraga was responsible for monitoring all radio calls. He also claimed, that while he knew there was some kind of an emergency involving a woman who was injured, he failed to ask anyone details about what happened.
    Moraga was relieved of duty without pay effective Wednesday.

    The document below charges Moraga with six violations of police department policy including "conduct unbecoming" and "gross negligence and gross inefficiency."

    UPDATED at 7:45pm: On Tuesday the Miami Herald reported:
    Three supervisors were served notices of intent to discipline [in connection with the ATV incident.] Two other officers have already been disciplined, two have been fired and further punishment is forthcoming, said City Manager Jorge Gonzalez. Hearings for the trio that were given notice on Tuesday are scheduled for Monday.
    One of the supervisors, Lt. Jerome Berrian, was "demoted to sergeant and required to reimburse the city $2,600 for claiming compensation for time he did not work," according to the Herald.

    Yesterday, Tim Elfrink of Miami New Times reported,
    The night of the [ATV] crash, Berrian was in charge of supervising both Kuilan and Gutierrez. Yet he showed up at least two hours late for his 10:30 p.m. start time. He told investigators he was "at a party," and later spent "a prolonged period of time in the restroom."

    He didn't log onto his work computer until around 1:45 in the morning. In the meantime, Guiterrez went to work with Kulian when he was supposed to be on patrol farther north on the Beach. When Kuilan's direct supervisor went home early due to an illness, Berrian left two full districts unsupervised for almost two hours.

    Just to top it off, Berrian falsified his time sheets to show that he'd actually arrived on time at 10:30 p.m., investigators found, and claimed 7.5 overtime hours while dealing with the aftermath of the ATV crash.
    In the same story Elfrink notes that
    "Berrian has long been one of the highest compensated officers on the force thanks to heaps of overtime work. In the five years before 2010, he made $824,538. In 2007, Elfrink reported that "Berrian hauled in $225,065.15. About $38,000 of that came from an off-duty job, but from taxpayers he still made $77,000 in salary, $99,700 in overtime."
    Given the fact that Berrian was disciplined for falsifying his time sheets, Miami filmmaker Billy Corben thinks it may be time to look at some of that past overtime Berrian claims to have worked. Corben Tweeted today, "Anybody investigating possible fraud in $824,000 in overtime pay Miami Beach Lt. Jerome Berrian made 2005-2010?"

    Moraga Intent to Discipline

    Déjà vu all over again

    Headline and story in today's Miami Herald:

    Miami-Dade’s Gimenez reshuffles County Hall, keeps department heads at their current salaries


    Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez named five new department directors and two interim heads this week as he slashes the number of county departments to 25 from 42.

    But don’t weep for those gold-plated bureaucrats left without a seat when the music stopped.

    Most of the displaced department heads are staying on — at their current six-figure salaries – at least until the new department directors figure out how to revamp their refashioned empires in a quest for efficiency.

    Headline and story from the Miami Herald, Aug. 30, 2009

    Downsized Dade execs still make big bucks


    Under fire for delivering double-digit raises to his closest advisors during a budget crisis, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez has defended himself by saying the perks were part of a broader staff reorganization that eliminated jobs and saved money.

    But many of the executives whose jobs disappeared are still working for the county, in some cases at higher salaries -- raising questions about how much the cutbacks have saved taxpayers.

    For example, the mayor said the 54 percent raise he gave in 2008 to his $125,000 per year director of communications, Victoria Mallette, was a bargain because she replaced two other executives.

    "The truth is, if you look at the situation as it really played out, I saved the county, I don't know, more than $100,000," Alvarez told WQBA radio host Oscar Haza on Tuesday, two days after a Miami Herald report detailed raises to his top aides.

    But both of the employees Alvarez said Mallette replaced, former Communications Director Paula Musto and her Assistant Director Louie Fernandez, are still on the county payroll.

    They made a combined $315,839 in September 2007, when they left the communications office. They grossed $350,243 in their new county jobs in 2008, payroll records show.
    Memo to Mayor Gimenez: I believe you were elected on a platform of cleaning up county government. If this is how you're going about it, please explain how this is any different from what the other guy was doing. Thank you.

    Your lunch hour time waster

    Here's the Thursday edition of the Random Pixels Lunch Hour Time Waster featuring Neo & Tuxedo, the skateboarding Boston terriers in Paris.

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011

    City of Miami to pay $550,000 to woman assaulted by cop

    Michael Ragusa
    From El Nuevo Herald:
    The City of Miami will pay $ 550,000 in compensation to the victim of an attempted rape in 2007 by a uniformed policeman.

    She was one of three victims who accused the former officer, Michael Ragusa, of a sexual assault that occurred in his patrol car and while in uniform. Ragusa was convicted in 2008 of two counts of rape and one count of attempted rape. He is currently serving a 10 year sentence.

    On the night of the attack, the 35 year-old woman who was working as a waitress, had stepped of a bus when Ragusa ordered the woman into his vehicle. Ragusa led her to a dark area, unzipped his pants and ordered her to perform oral sex. The woman tried unsuccessfully to stop the attack.
    In March, 2007, the Miami Herald reported this account of the incident:
    Miami police Officer Michael P. Ragusa kidnapped a woman in his patrol car, tried raping her, released her, sent her a cellphone text message, then called to invite her to lunch, authorities say.

    Ragusa, a three-year officer with an undistinguished career, was arrested Tuesday.

    Stripped of his badge and gun, he was charged with kidnapping and attempted sexual battery by a law enforcement officer.

    "It's difficult for us anytime one of our own gets in trouble for anything," said Miami Lt. Bill Schwartz. "But something like this boggles the mind."

    Ragusa , 31, Coconut Grove afternoon-shift patrolman, was not on duty when the alleged kidnapping happened in Miami Beach just before 5 a.m. Monday.

    That's when, police say, Ragusa pulled up to a 31-year-old woman who had just left her undisclosed workplace.

    She stepped off a county bus at Collins Avenue and 73rd Street. He beckoned her over.

    Calling her "beautiful," Ragusa grabbed her by the arm and pulled her toward the blue-and-white Ford Crown Victoria, according to a police report.

    The terrified woman later told police she had never seen him before.

    Ragusa pulled her into the car "across his lap." They drove to a "secluded area" behind a nearby Collins Avenue home.

    Ragusa , not in uniform, smelled of alcohol, she said.

    Pleading, the woman begged him "to please let her go, because she had to go home to her son," an arrest report says.

    As she struggled, Ragusa fondled her, forced kisses on her and stripped off her pants, police say.

    Ragusa tried raping her, police say, but stopped when the woman claimed she had a venereal disease.

    Allowing the woman to put her pants on, Ragusa extended an invitation back to his apartment, police said. The woman insisted she needed to go home.

    Ragusa drove her home but before letting her go, he "stated he wanted her phone number." She agreed, writing the number on a match book -- he immediately called her to make sure she had given the correct one.

    "He told her he would like to see her again," the police report says.