Tuesday, January 31, 2012

HBO releases trailer for 'Game Change'

HBO has released the trailer for "Game Change", a movie based on the book of the same name, by journalists Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, which chronicles the story of John McCain's 2008 presidential bid.

Julianne Moore plays Sarah Palin and McCain is played by Ed Harris.

The movie premieres March 10 on HBO.

Spoiler alert: they lose!

Monday, January 30, 2012

There are no more bunnies in the Everglades

If you need any more proof of how widespread the python problem is in the Everglades, consider this story filed today by Tampa Bay Times environmental writer Craig Pittman:
Pythons slither all over the southern end of Everglades National Park. And because of them, a new study says, a lot of animals that used to be seen in the Everglades are gone —- apparently gobbled up by the invading snakes.

In a report published Monday, a team of scientists said they found that between 2003 and 2011, the areas where pythons had proliferated saw a 99 percent decrease in raccoons, a 98 percent drop in opossums, a 94 percent drop in white-tailed deer and an 87 percent falloff for bobcats. And that's not the worst of it.

"We observed no rabbits or foxes," the report noted.

The bottom line: "In areas where pythons have been established the longest ..., mammal populations appear to have been severely reduced."
Study co-author Robert Reed, a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, said the disappearance of rabbits raised serious questions about how widespread the pythons are.

"Because they breed like — well, like rabbits — they should be able to bounce back pretty well," from facing a new predator like pythons, Reed said. "The fact that they've been knocked back so far is pretty alarming."
(A few years ago, when he was interviewed by CNN about the Burmese python problem in the Everglades, wildlife expert Joe Wasilewski said, "They're eating basically everything in sight.")

Read all of Pittman's story by clicking here.

Read the complete text of the study (in PDF form), on the website of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by clicking here.

“Who is Newt Gingrich?’’

In case you missed it this morning, MSNBC's "Morning Joe" originated live from Jerry's Famously Overpriced Deli on Miami Beach.

The Miami Herald's Doug Hanks reports the strippers sat in the back and “Morning Joe” fans sat up front.
“Who is Newt Gingrich?’’ asked Skrawberry, a 26-year-old stripper occupying a back table at Jerry’s Famous Deli during the live broadcast. She and friends gathered there for a post-clubbing breakfast, drinking from a $450 bottle of Moet pink champagne left over from their night at the Fontainebleau’s LIV.
For some unexplained reason, the show's producers booked the Herald's Dave Barry, a guy who never passes up an opportunity to roll out his repertoire of stale jokes and show-off his equally-dated, 1980's, dorky bowl-on-the-head haircut.

Dave didn't disappoint this morning, dredging up the three-year old story of a dead shark on the downtown People Mover. (It's one he never tires of telling.)

Get some new material, Dave!

Your lunch hour time waster

From Texas, where everything is bigger and faster....

An outfit called High Tech Corvette has made a name for itself by posting videos of "hot" girls going for rides in high performance cars.

Let's see how "Sexy Jenni" enjoyed her ride in a 1250whp Underground Racing Lamborghini.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

LeBron James bikes to work

LeBron James in traffic near SE 15th Rd. and Brickell Ave.
Photo via Twitter
-via NBA AllBall blog:
Due to the Miami Marathon, traffic getting to AmericanAirlines Arena was brutal for today’s Heat-Bulls matinee. As reported by ABC during the telecast, LeBron James took the traffic into consideration and made alternate plans for his commute — specifically, he rode his bike.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Pat Sajak and Vanna White were drunk during tapings of 'Wheel of Fortune'

File this under "News You Can't Use."

We learned this week that, "Pat Sajak used to host 'Wheel of Fortune' while drunk."

In a strange bit of serendipity, I can reveal that to this day, the only way I can stand to watch "Wheel of Fortune" is if I'm completely hammered.

We now return you to regularly scheduled programming.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Miami Herald's move to new building will cost $57 million

The former Southern Command HQ building at 3511 N.W. 91st Ave. in Doral
will become the Miami Herald's new home in May, 2013.

-via a Facebook friend: "According to Friday filing (bad financial news always is filed on a Friday) with the SEC...the cost to move The Miami Herald Newspaper from its bayside building to a compound in Doral: $57 million."

via Yahoo! Finance:
Costs Associated with Exit or Disposal Activities
Item 2.05 Costs Associated with Exit or Disposal Activities

Total costs related to relocating the newspapers' operations and for constructing the New Production Facility, including the purchase of the property, construction costs, accelerated depreciation, and moving expenses is estimated to be $57 million. (Emphasis mine.) This total includes $12 million of accelerated depreciation on existing assets expected to be retired or decommissioned, including two of the five existing presses. These costs will be incurred over the next 16 months. McClatchy expects an estimated $25 million, including the $12 million of accelerated depreciation, to be expensed over the 16 months and the remaining costs, approximately $32 million, to be capitalized. McClatchy is entitled to reimbursement of $6 million of these total costs from an escrow account established for that purpose by Bayfront 2011 Property LLC ("Bayfront") under the terms of that certain Purchase and Sale Agreement dated May 26, 2011 pursuant to which McClatchy and its subsidiary Richwood, Inc., sold MHMC's existing headquarters located at One Herald Plaza, Miami, Florida, to Bayfront.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The way we were...the day it rained money in Overtown

Fifteen years ago this month - an Only-in-Miami story - an armored car crashes on I-95 sending money raining down on one of Miami's poorest neighborhoods.

From the Miami Herald, January 9, 1997:

by FRANCES ROBLES, Herald staff writer

It was Overtown's version of Pennies from Heaven : quarters and cash from I-95.

Miami firefighter Manny Rodriguez was there trying to quell the chaos after a Brinks truck crashed. Hundreds of people with dollar signs in their eyes went wild around him. Money was everywhere, and folks were dropping on all fours to get some.

He plucked 20s out of trees. He gathered rolls of quarters from the dirt. Bills flew in the air. Nestled in the bushes, Rodriguez found a jackpot: a square white 50-pound bag.

Rodriguez's jaw dropped. A $50,000-a-year firefighter who usually responds to gas spills was working a money spill. And he had just found $330,000. Cash. Currency. Moolah. And he got there a half hour after the crash.

"It was loot , a lot of money," said Rodriguez, 33. "It was very heavy. I didn't even know how much was in there. I gave it to the Brinks guy, and he told me it was about $330,000. I freaked out."

Why didn't he try to keep it?

This is a practical man: He likes being a firefighter. He could lose the job he has had for nine years. He would get in big trouble and lose his treasure anyway.

"It settled in later. I started thinking: What could I do with all that money?'' said Rodriguez, who works out of Station 1 in downtown Miami. "I love my job too much to do something stupid. Basically, it's theft. Everybody picking up quarters was stealing, I think.

"I wouldn't engage in that kind of craziness. It was ugly to watch. I never even thought about keeping it.''

Lots of other people did. And they got away with it.

Opportunity knocked when an armored Brinks truck lost control at 7:25 a.m. Wednesday while turning from westbound 836 onto northbound Interstate 95 and hit a barrier. The truck turned over and split open. A truck loaded with $3.7 million. "The car literally opened like a sardine can, and money literally showered down to the street below as well as onto the highway,'' said Miami police spokesman Lt. Bill Schwartz. "It was pandemonium. People were climbing over fences, climbing over each other. They put it in their pockets, in paper bags, wherever they could until they couldn't carry any more."

Word spread fast. People called their relatives. Residents from nearby Town Park Village came dashing out of their apartments. Drivers pulled over during rush hour to pick up money bags. Passersby were suddenly rich. Up to $555,000

Florida Highway Patrol spokesman Lt. Ernesto Duarte said about 10 to 15 percent of the truck's load disappeared. That's up to $555,000 now in the hands of I-95 commuters and the people of Northwest Fifth Avenue and 17th Street -- the heart of one of South Florida's poorest neighborhoods.

"People walking by, people driving by, anybody that was a witness got money," Duarte said. "Things like this don't happen very often, and people are going to try to take advantage. It's funny, but it's dangerous. People jumped out of cars and grabbed bags full of money. Residents all got money."

Empty money bags were found slit open. Boxes that once held hundreds of rolls of quarters were crushed and raided.

Many people got away with thousands of dollars. Others settled for laundry money -- about $4,000 in quarters Brinks gave up on collecting.

"I was over by Jackson Memorial Hospital, blocks away, and saw people on their knees. I knew what was up. They weren't there picking vegetables," said a man who said to call him David Brink ley.

He ran four blocks and joined about 150 people on their knees collecting quarters. Men joined forces to open manhole covers and check the sewer pipes for spoils. Housewives combed through the dirt with sticks.

"I heard one dude got $35,000," the man said. "I got about $15. Let me get out of here before I get robbed."

The way most people saw it, it was only fair: finders-keepers. Losers? Well, they weep.

"My sister called me and said, `Girl! A truck full of money just fell off the highway!' I didn't believe her," said Roslyn Schuler, her pants sagging from the weight of her loot. "I saw the crowd rush in, and I went in behind them. It's free money! And nobody's robbing for it!

"I must have here $30 or $40." In coins.

Cody Bernard made off with about 10 bucks.

"I got mostly just change, but money is money," he said. "It's honest. I didn't steal it. I'll take it wherever I can get it.

"I think I'll go get a case of Budweiser."

Schwartz says the discoverers shouldn't rest so easy. Detectives will have their eyes out for people who were penniless Tuesday and suddenly strutting the streets with wads of cash. He says taking the money wasn't ethical. And it wasn't legal, either.

"The money does not belong to them. It is theft, whether you picked up a quarter or $100,000," Schwartz said. "Collecting the quarters, nickels and dimes will be hard. But the big bills, we'll be counting on people's consciences."

The driver of the truck, Walter Cravero, and his co-worker, Lazaro Diaz, were both treated and released Wednesday afternoon at Jackson Memorial Hospital. Cravero was charged with reckless driving and got a ticket for having three bald tires.

The people at Brinks won't disclose the tally of the missing fortune.

"Our only comment is that we have no comment," said company spokesman Marven Moss. "We're still investigating what happened."

Hours after the crash, hopeful stragglers were still coming by.

"They said gold fell out of the sky," said a man named Juan. "It sure seemed so. I saw it on the news and rushed over.

"It's a sad shame there's none here now."

Your late afternoon time waster

The Facebook police are coming to your house! -from Jimmy Kimmel.

It's official: Miami Herald announces it's moving to former U.S. Southern Command HQ

The former Southern Command HQ building at 3511 N.W. 91st Ave. in Doral
will become the Miami Herald's new home in May, 2013.

Miami Herald publisher David Landsberg sent out this email this morning to staffers:

Drum roll, please… the big announcement is finally here!

We’re on the move – and starting in May 2013, our new headquarters will be located at 3511 NW 91 Ave., on the 15-acre site that was formerly home to the U.S. Southern Command. The site is located in Doral, four miles west of the airport. It’s located within a 30-minute drive of most Miami-Dade residents, and offers easy access to Broward and the Keys.

MHMC has leased the two-story, 158,000 sq. ft. building to house the business and news offices. The company will also build a new three-story, 119,000 sq. ft. production facility on property purchased adjacent to its new home. Ample parking of about 680 spaces will be available. Groundbreaking on the new press building is expected in April, and construction will be fast-tracked to meet our relocation deadline.

The state-of-the-art printing plant, which will comprise three presses moved from our current location, will offer improved press and color capabilities, as well as a convenient location for distribution of The Miami Herald, El Nuevo Herald and all our commercial printing partners. We anticipate no interruptions in service for either readers or advertisers.

The move is also in keeping with the Miami Herald Media Company mission: to be the most credible and dynamic source of information for our community. We’ve been a vital part of this community for nearly 110 years – 48 of them at our present location – and our new Miami-Dade headquarters demonstrates we’re strong, solid and here to stay.

Stop by the cafeteria today at 11 AM as we celebrate the announcement of our new home. McClatchy Vice President Pat Talamantes and I will be available to answer any questions. We’ll have coffee and donuts, as well as visual renderings of the new site and building. At 9 PM, Craig Woischwill will be in the pressroom for a second Q&A session.

Going forward, we’ll have updates on the construction and move on a regular basis. Look for these updates in the “Move 2013” corner in our lobby.

Thank you for all your patience as we worked to get us to today’s announcement.

Attached is the full Press Release [below] that will be sent to outside media at 11 am today.
Marie Zeno-Garcia
The Miami Herald



MIAMI, Jan. 26, 2012 – The Miami Herald Media Company (MHMC), parent of The Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald, announced today that it has finalized a contract on the future site of its Miami-Dade County headquarters.

MHMC will relocate operations to a leased, two-story office building that formerly served as the headquarters of the U.S. Southern Command and will build a new production center on property purchased adjacent to its new home. The company is scheduled to relocate in May 2013 from its current downtown Miami location.

“This move represents a new era for the Miami Herald Media Company,” said president and publisher David Landsberg. “We are excited about these modern and efficient facilities, which will provide our employees with a 21st century workplace to better serve the varied needs and demands of our customers. And we’re thrilled to make this substantial investment in our company and in the community.”

The two properties encompass approximately 15 acres and are located at 3511 NW 91st Ave. in Doral, Fla., inside the Westpointe Business Park. MHMC’s new headquarters will sit four miles west of Miami International Airport and within a 30-minute drive of most Miami-Dade County residents, offering easy access to Broward County and the Keys.

The office building contains approximately 158,000 square feet and will house all of The Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald’s business and news operations. The property owner, GPA-I, LP of Memphis, Tenn., is providing a long-term lease. Tere Blanca, president and CEO of Blanca Commercial Real Estate, Inc., represented MHMC in the transaction, and David Steinfeld from CB Richard Ellis represented GPA-I,LP.

Miami Herald Executive Editor Aminda Marques Gonzalez said she was looking forward to creating a newsroom built to serve the many ways in which MHMC reaches its more than 1.5 million weekly readers.

“We’ll be able to build a modern newsroom around a central hub that truly integrates our multimedia operation, including our print, website, radio, video, mobile news and tablet platforms,” Marques said. “We’ve been visiting and studying other newsrooms to incorporate the best ideas around the country into our new space.”

El Nuevo Herald Executive Editor/General Manager Manny Garcia said, “Our new location will put us even closer to the communities we serve.”

Construction of the adjacent production facility is expected to begin in April 2012. When completed, the facility will stand three stories high and encompass approximately 119,000 square feet.

Three of the company’s existing presses will be refurbished and relocated to the new facility, offering improved printing and color capabilities as well as a centrally located distribution center. MHMC not only publishes and distributes its two flagship newspapers, The Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald, but provides printing and local distribution for dozens of other publications as well, including The Wall Street Journal, New York Daily News, New York Post and El Pais.

Pat Talamantes, McClatchy vice president and CFO who also oversees McClatchy’s Florida operations said, “We are very pleased to find a solution for both our production and office needs in one location in Miami-Dade County. This office building and production facility will allow us to optimize the work environment for a modern media company. I congratulate the management team at the Miami Herald Media Company, our real estate advisers at Blanca Commercial Real Estate, our production designers at Dario Designs and the GPA-I, LP team for developing such a strong, cost-effective project.”

About the Miami Herald Media Company

The Miami Herald Media Company (MHMC) publishes two daily newspapers: The Miami Herald, winner of 20 Pulitzer Prizes, and El Nuevo Herald, an award-

winning Spanish-language publication. Together, the newspapers are read by more than a million people each week, in print and online at MiamiHerald.com and elNuevoHerald.com.

MHMC products include the websites Miami.com and MomsMiami.com. The company

produces content across all media, including video, mobile and radio on WLRN/Herald News; as well as over 110 custom publications for hotels, airlines and other clients through its subsidiary, HCP/Aboard Publishing.

The Miami Herald is owned by The McClatchy Company.

About McClatchy

The McClatchy Company is a leading news and information provider, offering a wide array of print and digital products in each of the markets it serves. As the third largest newspaper company in the country, McClatchy’s operations include 30 daily newspapers, community newspapers, websites, mobile news and advertising, niche publications, direct marketing and direct mail services. The company’s newspapers include The Miami Herald, The Sacramento Bee, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, The Kansas City Star, The Charlotte Observer and The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C. McClatchy is listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol MNI.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Miami-Dade County shell game continues [Part II]

Yesterday, in a very public, emotionally-charged meeting at County Hall...
A divided Miami-Dade Commission reached a contentious compromise on Tuesday to save the jobs of hundreds of county workers who would otherwise have received pink slips.

By a 7-6 vote, commissioners imposed a controversial concession they had rejected earlier this month — but only after making it slightly smaller and agreeing to raid a trust fund that pays for employee healthcare claims.

Instead of requiring employees to contribute an additional 5 percent of their base pay toward health insurance, the county will force them to contribute 4 percent, bringing their total contribution to 9 percent.

To make up the difference, Miami-Dade will take $10 million from the approximately $90-million reserve fund that pays employee health-insurance claims.

Following the commission decision, Mayor Carlos Gimenez said his administration would rescind layoff notices sent over the past two weeks to 118 police officers, 17 corrections employees and at least 68 professionals and supervisors. The layoffs would have been effective Feb. 3.
But, behind the scenes, far removed from the cameras, bright lights and microphones, it appears to be business as usual.

Consider this email I received today:
Subject: Gimenez Department Reorganization Simply Added a New Layer of Bureaucracy‏

During the meetings about the union contracts, you probably heard several of the commissioners questioning Mayor Gimenez about the savings that should have been realized by the reduction in County departments. The attached announcement [see memo below] demonstrates how Gimenez simply added another layer of bureaucracy with his so-called department reduction and reorganization and did not cut any costs.

Before the Sept. 2011 reorganization, there were three separate departments called Human Resources (HR), General Services Administration (GSA), and Procurement Management (DPM). Their respective department directors were Mary Lou Rizzo, Wendi Norris, and Miriam Singer.

When Gimenez announced that number of departments would be reduced, he placed HR, GSA, and DPM under one department named “Internal Services.” He moved his hack-buddy Lester Sola from the Elections Department over to head the new department without a job posting, competitive interviews, etc.

You would think that would mean Rizzo, Norris, and Singer would be shown the door along with their assistants, their secretaries, etc. Instead, as you can see in the announcement, three new Assistant Director of Internal Services positions were created for them. In typical county fashion, Rizzo, Norris, and Singer were appointed to the new positions this month without job postings, competitive interviews, etc. It is my understanding that their salaries were not lowered and that their assistants and secretaries are still with them.

So, if you worked in the HR, GSA, or DPM departments, the only thing different for you now is that you have a new person, Lester Sola, in your chain of command. You still answer to Rizzo, Norris, or Singer. The bureaucracy actually INCREASED with the reduction in departments.

I know you supported Gimenez. I worked VERY hard to elect him, and I am so disappointed by his failure to reform the County administration. I am unaware of Gimenez firing ANYONE from the Alvarez administration (which is amazing to me). He actually made it clear that anyone who did leave (e.g., Sara Pizano at Animal Services, Karls Paul-Noel at Fire Rescue) was not fired or forced out.

Gimenez kept all of the Burgess/Alvarez cronies, and his department reorganization/reduction was a hoax.
(Click here and here to read earlier posts on this subject.)

Sola Appointments ISD

Déjà vu all over again

"It became necessary to destroy the town to save it." -- An American major after the destruction of the Vietnamese Village Ben Tre, Feb. 1968
If Miami Herald publisher David Landsberg worked at his paper as a reporter, he'd have been fired long ago for a lack of originality in his writing.

In an email today to newsroom staffers announcing company-wide one-week furloughs for all full-time employees, Landsberg wrote, "The improving trends we've seen in our business results so far this year are real and encouraging, but we continue to experience year-over-year revenue losses." That sentence is a variation on a theme that Landsberg has dredged up numerous times over the past four years.

Last August, in announcing similar furloughs, Landsberg told his staff that, "the company’s efforts to develop new revenue streams aren’t enough to offset prolonged revenue declines.

In May, 2010, in an email announcing mandated furloughs, Landsberg said that while things were improving at the paper, "revenue was still lagging."

In March, 2009, Landsberg ordered job cuts and other "expense reductions" at the Herald that included a cut of 19% in the workforce, pay cuts for all full-time employees making more than $25,000 a year and a loss of an additional one week of pay through unpaid furloughs for full-timers.

Here's the full text of today's email from Landsberg.

From: Landsberg, David
Date: Wed, Jan 25, 2012 at 9:57 AM
Subject: 1st Half Furlough
To: MIA All Herald Users

To all Herald staff:

Today we are announcing a one-week furlough program for most full-time employees who work a regularly scheduled 40-hour week, including all executives and senior managers.

The improving trends we've seen in our business results so far this year are real and encouraging, but we continue to experience year-over-year revenue losses. As a result, we must find ways to manage our expenses accordingly, and the furlough is one way we hope to accomplish this.

Employees required to participate in the one-week furlough plan will have until June 24, 2012 to complete their furloughs. Each division will manage its own process for sign-up and scheduling furloughs.

We remain committed to generating new sources of revenue and new ideas to help offset the difficult economic environment. Thank you for your continued hard work and dedication to our mission.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Cat vs. alligator: Cat 1, 'Gator, 0

Cat challenges alligator for chicken scraps.

The face-off is caught on camera by some tourists at Cajun Pride Swamp Tour in Louisiana.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Is this the Miami Herald's new home? [Part II]

Could the former Southern Command HQ building at 3511 N.W. 91st Ave. in Doral
become the Miami Herald's new home?

Oscar Musibay of the South Florida Business Journal continues to stay out front of the pack on the story of the Miami Herald's quest to find a new home.

Musibay reported last week the "Herald’s negotiations to relocate to part of 21 acres in Miami that are home to outgoing Bertram Yachts had stalled.

Today Musibay reports that "The Miami Herald is in discussions with the owner of the former U.S. Southern Command headquarters in Doral to make it the newspaper’s next home."
The newspaper is seeking about 120,000 square feet of office space, and about 150,000 square feet for its printing operation and parking.

The facility at 3511 N.W. 91st Ave., has been vacant since the Southern Command relocated next door in December 2010. It has an existing 153,000-square-foot building that sits on 9 acres.

The former Southern Command complex and the home of Bertram Yachts on the Miami River were relocation finalists. The Herald eventually chose to negotiate with the owner of the Bertram Yachts land, but the deal stalled for several reasons.
In an email last Jan. 13, Herald publisher David Landsberg told staffers that the paper was "still vetting various location options and finalizing plans" and that "We still expect to vacate One Herald Plaza by late-May 2013."

Is UM president Donna Shalala guilty of a 'conflict of interest?'

Here's a story that won't be showing up in the pages of the Miami Herald anytime soon.

Jack Stripling and Andrea Fuller, senior reporter and researcher respectively at the The Chronicle of Higher Education - a Washington DC based newspaper - collaborate on an interesting article that appears in this month's issue focusing on what experts say are conflicts of interest involving some American college presidents.

Stripling and Fuller found that "a handful of college leaders [...] collect hundreds of thousands of dollars each year as directors for companies that are headed by or employ university trustees."

Topping the reporters' list of college chiefs with apparent conflicts of interest is University of Miami president Donna Shalala.

Stripling and Fuller write:
As president of the University of Miami, Donna E. Shalala answers to dozens of trustees, many of whom are captains of industry. But two of those board members also answer to her.

Ms. Shalala's uncommon role reversal is a product of her lucrative service on the boards of two different companies headed by members of Miami's Board of Trustees. In effect, her role as a director at a national medical group and at a home-building empire places her in the position of functioning as her bosses' boss.

While corporate board service is not uncommon for university presidents, Ms. Shalala is among a handful of college leaders who collect hundreds of thousands of dollars each year as directors for companies that are headed by or employ university trustees, a Chronicle analysis has found. Such board service is fraught with potential conflicts of interest, corporate-governance experts say, because a university president may be disinclined to question or oppose an industry executive who has a say in his or her continued employment and compensation. So, too, may a university trustee's judgment be clouded in evaluating a president who has influence over the trustee's professional endeavors.
Equally taboo for a president is service on a board connected to a major donor, which describes the family of Leonard M. Miller, a former University of Miami trustee, which gave a historic $100-million gift to the university in 2004, after Mr. Miller died. The gift led to the naming of Miami's medical school in honor of the late Mr. Miller.

Ms. Shalala joined the board of Lennar Corporation, a home-building company co-founded by Mr. Miller, in 2001, the same year she became Miami's president. The company's chief executive is Stuart A. Miller, Mr. Miller's son, and a Miami trustee.

Charles M. Elson, a professor of corporate governance at the University of Delaware, said a president who serves on the board of a company that employs a donor or trustee invites skepticism and even legal repercussions. If a corporate board is thought to have failed in its duties to protect shareholders' investments, a president who is perceived to have blind allegiance to a chief executive could wind up answering for his or her actions in court.

"You never should go on the board of a donor, past, present, or potential, because it destroys your independence," Mr. Elson said.

Ms. Shalala and Pascal J. Goldschmidt, dean of Miami's medical school, also serve on the board of Mednax, a medical group whose chief executive, Roger J. Medel, is a university trustee. Dr. Medel has helped set performance goals and allocate bonuses for both Ms. Shalala and Dr. Goldschmidt, according to company proxy statements.

Ms. Shalala, Dr. Goldschmidt, and officials from Lennar and Mednax all declined interview requests.

Your early afternoon time waster

Dachshund tries mightily to teach a baby to play fetch!

The baby has trouble grasping the concept.

Major cuteness ensues.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

"Deep Doo-doo" Time

A Random Pixels Random Thought on a Sunday afternoon: If Gingrich wins big in Florida, look for Republicans to start jumping in the lifeboats faster than an Italian cruise ship captain.

"Not only are we not moving toward a coalescing of support with the establishment of Newt Gingrich, we're probably moving toward a declaration of war on Newt Gingrich by the Republican establishment. And if Newt Gingrich is able to win the Florida primary, you will see a panic and a meltdown of the Republican establishment that is beyond my ability to articulate in the English language. People will go crazy." -Steve Schmidt, former McCain campaign senior strategist.

From The Daily Beast:
Newt Gingrich's Surprise Win in South Carolina Panics Republicans
by Paul Begala

Reactions to Newt Gingrich's stunning and impressive victory in the South Carolina primary form a symphony. First, of course, we hear the cheers of South Carolina Republicans who have chosen their champion. From Ronald Reagan in 1980 through John McCain in 2008, the winner of this primary has always gone on to be the Republican nominee.

Then, of course, we can hear the buttons popping from Newt Gingrich's shirt as his ego swells to Macy's parade size. If you listen carefully, you can hear the soft sobs of Mitt Romney and his consultants, crying in their chocolate milk.

But above it all we can hear the weeping, the wailing, the gnashing of teeth of the Republican establishment as Gingrich's victory sends them into full-blown panic. I'm not talking about mere fear, nor normal nervousness. Not even the feeling you get when the captain says, "We've lost power in one of our four engines." No, this is worse. Worse even than when your doctor says, "I don't like the looks of that shadow on the X-ray."

This is terror. Chest-clutching, breath-sucking, soul-shaking panic. This is your teenage daughter telling you, "I think I'm in trouble." This is a Turkish border guard pulling you into a holding room when you've got a baggie of coke in your pocket. This is what George H.W. Bush famously called "deep doo-doo."

TV weatherman hits So Be on vacation; gets scammed for 43 grand and loses his job

John Bolaris used to be a TV weatherman in Philadelphia.

In March, 2010, he took a vacation to South Beach where he hoped he might "get laid."

And then, as they say on TV news, that's when things went horribly wrong.

From Philly.com:
Every spring, Bolaris and a pal head to Florida for a couple of days of hanging out in the sun.

Last March, his pal bailed at the last second. Bolaris went anyway.

He checked into his Miami Beach hotel, the Fontainebleau, and headed to dinner at another hotel. A few diners recognized him from TV and started asking about the weather.

Unbeknown to Bolaris, federal authorities said, two Latvian women - Marina Turcina and Anna Kilimatova - had been watching him. They sized him up - good-looking middle-aged guy with an expensive watch - and made their move.
From Gawker.com:
Philadelphia meteorologist John Bolaris—a bar-trawling man-about-town who has been described as a "media self-promoter," "weatherhunk," "publicity hound," and "poonhound"—has lost his job in the wake of a "real-life The Hangover," with a side of Anchorman bluster.

After being drugged and scammed out of $43,712.25 by the Russian mob while on vacation in South Beach, the middle-aged bachelor went on a PR blitz that included a rollicking Playboy tell-all. His employer, Fox 29, suspended him "indefinitely," then pulled the plug on his employment this week

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Random Pixels Saturday Night 70's Rewind

From 1975.... Classic Saturday Night Live bit with Chevy Chase: "Generalíssimo Francisco Franco is still dead."

Lincoln Road Outdoor Antique and Collectible Market this Sunday

Photo by Suzy Mast Lee.
Another Lincoln Road Antique Market takes place tomorrow, Jan. 22nd.

The weather's going to be great.

For a complete list of 2012 dates, see the blue box in the right-hand sidebar. ------>>

See you there!

Best Facebook update, ever!

Click image to enlarge.

Friday, January 20, 2012

President Obama channels Al Green

President Obama Sings Al Green's 'Let's Stay Together' during a fundraiser at the Apollo Theater In Harlem.

Mitt Romney would like a few seconds for rebuttal.

Your lunch hour time waster

MSNBC's Morning Joe says "Adios, Cowboy" to Rick Perry.

Watch LeBron James nearly crush Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria into a fine powder

via Tim Elfrink of Miami New Times:
The best part of last night's game wasn't that LeBron James dropped 31 points, or that the Heat crushed Kobe's Lakers without Dwyane Wade. Honestly, the best part wasn't even when LeBron James absolutely pancaked Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria on the sideline while chasing a loose ball (although every taxpayer in Dade rejoiced a little at seeing the mastermind of the new stadium deal doing a faceplant.)

No, the best part was after the LeBron-Loria collision when LeBron clearly had no idea who this sad old man in an expensive suit was that he'd just steamrolled.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Miami cop fired following road-rage incident

UPDATED at 3:30pm Thursday: I just got off the phone with Miami police Sgt. Javier Ortiz who is also the vice president of the Fraternal Order of Police.

Ortiz told me, "This whole thing has been blown out of proportion. This officer was never charged with anything following the incident."

Ortiz added that he met with Juchnowski today and "He is not distraught."

Ortiz told me that the FOP is working to get Juchnowski re-instated, adding, "You can quote me on this, this officer will get his job back."

Ortiz dismissed the allegations that Juchnowski was fired for a "variety of other reasons."

"No one has has shown me what those 'other reasons' are. This is a good police officer."

Ortiz also said that Juchnowski was still a probationary officer due to the fact that he had been out for almost a year recuperating following a training accident.


A City of Miami probationary police officer was fired Wednesday for "a variety of reasons," including his part in a December 14, 2011 road rage incident that occurred on Miami Beach while he was off-duty.

Yesterday, a Miami Police Internal Affairs investigator went to the Pennsylvania Ave apartment of the officer, Michael Juchnowski, to retrieve his city-issued equipment.

Juchnowski allegedly pepper-sprayed a cab driver who was picking up a passenger near David's Cafe on Meridian Road last Dec. 14. (See incident report below.)

Juchnowski had apparently drawn the attention of his supervisors for other infractions since his hiring a few years ago.

Following Juchnowski's dismissal, the Internal Affairs Investigator alerted Miami Beach police because Juchnowski became "extremely distraught after the firing."

Miami Beach police Lt. Ronald Chapman issued a memo late Wednesday that cautioned Miami Beach officers to "use extra caution when responding to [Juchnowski's] location."
From: Chapman, Ronald
Sent: Wed 1/18/2012 4:59 PM
To: Police Intel
Subject: Officer Safety

The Miami Police Officer who was involved in an off-duty incident on December 14, 2011 involving a taxi cab and described in the attached Special Incident was terminated by Miami PD today. The probationary officer was terminated for a variety of reasons according to the Internal Affairs Investigator. The former officer resides at [redacted] Pennsylvania Avenue #1B, he recently moved to #7 in the same building. Today, his City equipment was taken from him by the Miami Police Department Internal Affairs Investigator. The investigator requested our agency be notified as the individual was extremely distraught after the firing. Responding officers should use extra caution when responding to the location. PSCU was advised and the address has been flagged to advise any responding officer of the possibility of encountering the individual who is believed to have personal firearms. Captain Causey was advised.

Subject Description:

W/M, Michael Juchnowski, (Former Miami Officer)
[redacted] Pennsylvania Avenue, Miami Beach

[by] Lieutenant Ronald D. Chapman, Patrol Division/2nd Platoon

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

21 seconds with Laurie Jennings and Calvin Hughes

Oh, to to be a fly on the wall in the office of WPLG news director Bill Pohovey as he watches his station's newscast every evening.

I would love to know how many times he cringes as he watches Laurie Jennings and Calvin Hughes - Channel 10's Dynamic News Duo - bumble and stumble their way through 90 minutes of news.

Here's 21 seconds from Wednesday night's 5pm newscast that pretty much tells you all you need to know about this pair.

Never mind Laurie's lame and totally useless observation about Kareem Abdul Jabbar's height.

Instead, listen as she uses the word "amazing" - as if she's an anchor on Entertainment Tonight - twice in the space of 8 seconds.

Apparently no one has told Laurie that "amazing" is on the list of 2012's banned words.

(Question for Bill Pohovey: Any chance you can impose a 6 month moratorium on Laurie's use of the words "amazing" and "incredible?" I know it's a lot to ask.

Your late afternoon time waster

Movie clips spliced together = random actors singing Lionel Richie's 'Hello.'

H/T: Billy Corben

Hello from ant1mat3rie on Vimeo.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Snow in Miami! - Jan. 19, 1977

Miami Herald, Jan. 20, 1977. (Click to enlarge)

This coming Thursday will mark 35 years since "The Great South Florida Blizzard of '77."

On Jan. 19, 1977, many Miami residents got their first glimpse of snow, ever.

The Miami News was able to get a paper on the street that afternoon with this headline: "Souvenir edition: The day that couldn't happen. Snow in Miami!"

News staff writer Ian Glass reported, "Snow fell on Miami for the first time in recorded history."

At the Associated Press bureau on Biscayne Boulevard, 29 year-old staffer Marty Merzer was working the overnight shift and it was his task to break the bone-chilling news to the world.

A few days ago, Merzer shared with me what he remembered of that night.
I was working the solo overnight (11 p.m.- 7 a.m.) shift at AP Miami. We knew it was going to be cold, but I don’t think the forecast mentioned the possibility of snow.

At any rate, special advisories started moving on the weather wire and I whipped up a brief story, with a lede I can’t really remember but I know its core was a phrase that had snow “reported as far south as” a Florida East Coast city.

In very rapid fashion, as the reports of snow moved south, I just kept re-topping the story by changing that phrase. “As far south as Fort Pierce.” “As far south as West Palm Beach.” Pompano Beach. Fort Lauderdale. Hollywood. Miami.

For one of the few times in my miserable life, I didn’t take a byline, maybe because the story began as little more than a brief. Alas, the next day, the Herald printed a box that showed the rolling AP ledes, one after the other, as a way of tracking the snow southward.

I could have had something like eight bylines in my hometown Herald that day, which – as an AP writer back then – would have given me a grand lifetime total of…eight Herald bylines.

Still, it was a fun story to write, I later nailed my share of Herald bylines and I didn’t really mind all that much getting snowed out that day. Sort of.
A few months later, Merzer left the AP and went to work for.....the Herald, where he stayed until retiring in 2008.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Miami-Dade Police director Loftus sends out lay-off notices

UPDATE: Click here for Miami Herald story.


From: Mc Cully, Annette On Behalf Of Loftus, James K.
Sent: Friday, January 13, 2012 1:50 PM
To: (MDPD) All Staff
Subject: Staff Reduction

I have before me on my desk, staff reduction letters for our sworn personnel. These letters will be distributed during the course of this day.

In a Department with a history of dark and difficult days, this one is unique. Never before have so many of our finest left us under these circumstances.

As always, we will find a way to persevere because of our responsibility as the Thin Blue Line. I give you my word that I will shift resources to ensure officer safety while honoring our commitment to the Department’s core function.

To everyone impacted by this layoff, my heart goes out to you. My family and I will keep you in our prayers. To everyone in the Department, please continue to fight to keep your focus. Your safety, the safety of your coworkers, and the well-being of our community demands your vigilance and commitment.

God Bless you,
James K. Loftus, Director
Miami-Dade Police Department

Miami Herald publisher says One Herald Plaza will be vacated by late May 2013

Here is the text of an email Miami Herald publisher David Landsberg sent out this morning updating staffers on the paper's move to a new building.
Good morning all,

It’s been a while since we’ve communicated regarding our upcoming move. Our goal throughout the process was/is to provide information to you as it becomes available. However, this particular move is complicated, and we are still vetting various location options and finalizing plans, so details remain limited. In addition, until contracts and/or leases are negotiated and finalized, some information cannot be made public.

Here is a quick summary of what can be shared. We have generally been looking at spaces within the Gratigny highway on the north, 836 on the south, the Palmetto highway on the west, and I-95 on the east. [See map below.] We are focusing on solutions that will provide employees and our customers with good access and ample space for both our office and production needs, as well as make sense for the long-term. We hope to make the location decision and announce it to you by the end of February.

We understand that traffic and commutes are a concern for everyone. Given the wide distribution of employee residences around the city, there will be those whose commute will be shorter and those that may have a longer drive. To the greatest extent possible, we are giving consideration to public transportation, freeway access, parking, etc.

We still expect to vacate One Herald Plaza by late-May 2013. Employees will have more than adequate time to make accommodations or arrangements related to working in a different part of the city.

We are continuing to work with architects, and have visited our recently relocated sister paper in Fort Worth to gather ideas. No matter where we locate, we will end up with a modern, efficient and functional space.

As with any move of this magnitude, we’re certain that you have many questions. We recognize no one likes to move, and change can be stressful. What we ask of you for now is to remain patient and focused on your work, allow us to finalize our plans and trust us to communicate information at the right time.

Thank you for hanging in there.

Click to enlarge. Map courtesy of Miami New Times.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

WPLG's Calvin Hughes struggles with basic facts

Calvin Hughes is one of the luckiest people in South Florida.

All he has to do is show up at Channel 10's studios everyday, sit in a chair and read words other people have written for him. And for this, he pulls down a handsome six-figure salary. Nice work if you can get it.

Hughes has been at WPLG for over five years, but, it's evident that his bosses don't require him to read a newspaper, or for that matter, exhibit even a basic knowledge of the market his station covers.

Hughes proved that last week when he twice referred to Miami-Dade County Hall as "city hall."

Hughes' bosses apparently got to him over the weekend. This week he's struggling mightily to show he's more engaged. Hughes is now asking more questions of reporters doing live shots.

But, he still doesn't know jack about Miami.

Tonight as he Channel reporter Glenna Milberg wrapped up her report from Miami-Dade County Hall, Hughes said, "Glenna, we know you are on the case for us, live for us at Miami county hall."

No, Calvin! It's not "city hall." It's not "Miami county hall." It's Miami-Dade County Hall.

You would know that if you watched your own newscasts or occasionally picked up a newspaper.

Beating the odds

From Thursday's NBC Nightly News:

Seventeen year-old Samantha Garvey lives in a homeless shelter, but that's not stopping her from going after the grand prize in the Intel Science Competition.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Your lunch hour time waster...Turning a newspaper page the Rube Goldberg way

This could make newspaper reading fun again.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The way we were...'Let the children eat all the ice cream they want'

100 years ago in Miami...

Newspaper ad for Seybold's Ice Cream in the Miami Daily Metropolis, May, 1, 1912.

Another reason why CNN is the worst cable news channel

Jon Stewart's right..."You don't cold-call a Kennedy at 5:00 in the morning. Do you know how many unexpected tragedies this family has suffered?"

Ashleigh Banfield; you're an idiot!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

PBA president John Rivera sends Miami-Dade mayor a 'cease and desist' order

Last Friday, John Rivera, president of the Dade County PBA, sent a tersely worded letter to Miami-Dade mayor Carlos Gimenez, ordering him to "cease and desist from any further direct dealing with our membership on any issue."

The PBA and the Government Supervisors Association of Florida have scheduled a contract ratification vote on the 5% employee contribution for health care for Thursday, Jan. 12.

The Miami Herald reported "Gimenez said Friday he plans to veto the county commission’s decisions Thursday not to impose labor concessions on county unions, but added he will still move ahead and send out the first wave of pink slips to county employees on Friday Jan. 13."

Cease and Desist Ltr to Mayor

5% Ratification 1 10 12

Trapped in the Pork 'n' Beans

The Liberty Square Housing Project, aka the Pork 'n' Beans.

Imagine living in a prison with no bars, no fences, no guards; but knowing you're trapped with little or no hope of ever escaping.

That's what Miami New Times managing editor Tim Elfrink found when he visited Miami's crime-ridden Pork 'n' Beans housing project to follow up on the Christmas eve morning stabbing of Phillip Arthur - a 24 year-old father of three - at the hands of his neighbor, Dorian Hinkson.
Phillip Arthur grew up far from Pork 'n' Beans, amid a big extended family in South Miami Heights, where he attended Ruth Owen Middle School and later graduated from Miami Killian Senior High. But after he and Moore began having children — son Phillip Jr. and daughters Anijah and Tanijah — the couple wanted to make their own life in Miami.

(NOTE: Some say Pork 'n Beans, the name given to the Liberty Square projects at Northwest 63rd Street and 14th Avenue springs from the projects' most popular food. Others say it's used because the roofs there are tinted sweet orange-red. -Miami Herald, Nov. 19, 1989.)

Arthur's family, like most Liberty Square tenants, had stayed for a couple years but wanted to leave. Today there's a waiting list of more than 1,000 names of residents asking to leave Pork 'n' Beans. But the young dad didn't just have the bad fortune of ending up in one of Miami's worst housing projects; he also got stuck in a single-story, blue-painted unit that shared a wall with [Dorian] Hinkson's home.
(Residents of the Pork 'n' Beans live with violence on an almost daily basis. Five and a half years ago, on July 1, 2006, 9 year-old Sherdavia Jenkins was playing in the housing project when she was killed by a stray bullet fired by warring drug dealers. The Miami Herald pulled out all the stops and covered every angle of Sherdavia's senseless killing. Ironically, Phillip Arthur bled to death just two short blocks from where little Sherdavia was gunned down.)

This time Herald editors decided the story of Arthur's murder was worthy enough to give it a few lines on the inside pages of its Christmas day paper. The Associated Press sent out six line brief. And then, the media moved on.

But, Elfrink decided to dig deeper after looking into Hinkson's background and checking out his rap sheet.

Elfrink followed up with a visit to the housing project; talking to neighbors of Arthur and Hinkson.
About five years ago, the unemployed native of St. Vincent lost his wife, neighbors say. And then his kids moved out. Hinkson, in turn, began struggling with serious mental illness — and with police.
A few days ago, Elfrink attended a memorial service for Phillip Arthur at a small Homestead church.
Last Saturday, more than a hundred mourners packed the Homestead Christian Center Ministries, a small church adorned with velvet curtains a few blocks west of Krome Avenue. They remembered a quiet father and placed flowers on his ivory-hued casket; his sisters, Clarenesha and Clarandra Cowart, sobbed as they read poems about their brother.

Toward the end of the service, his brother Mark wiped his eyes and walked to the altar with a wireless microphone. In a keening tenor, he sang a song likely to resonate with everyone still left in Pork 'n' Beans. "Why can't we just fly away?" he sang. "Why can't we all just fly away?"
Read Elfrink's full story by clicking here.

Monday, January 09, 2012

The Herman Cain 9-9-9 Comedy Tour

Herman Cain is back according to Jimmy Kimmel.

Get ready for the Herman Cain 9-9-9 Comedy Tour with 99 minutes of laffs!

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Random Pixels presents: Courthouse fashion tips for drug dealers

This is not proper courtroom attire!

Okay, this seems like a no-brainer.

If you've been arrested for drug trafficking, you probably don't want to show up for a court appearance wearing something that might erase any doubt that you are, indeed, a drug trafficker.

But, the Sun Sentinel's Paula McMahon has the story of a man who did just that Friday in Fort Lauderdale.
A man accused of drug trafficking showed up for court Friday in Fort Lauderdale sporting a jacket that bore a cartoon-style recipe for cooking crack cocaine.

Maybe he was hoping to impress the judge or "crack up" the courtroom crowd, but the fashion police at the Broward County Courthouse labeled it a fashion fail.

"Probably not the smartest attire for a defendant!" said Michael Weinstein, a lawyer who snapped a cellphone photo.

The man's white jacket looked like a how-to guide for making crack cocaine, with a series of little pictures of a white substance with a spoon, a carton of baking soda and a little pot over a fire. The end product was a "rock," slang for the drug.
Witnesses, including the man's attorney Joshua Rydell, would not reveal the name of the man, who did not get into trouble for his threads.

Rydell said his clients still surprise him by wearing drug-related attire to court.

"Giant marijuana leaves on their T-shirts..." Rydell said. "It's so common that I routinely advise clients, 'No drug-related clothes when you come to court.'"
As stupid as this drug dealer's act of defiance is, it pales in comparison to that of a Los Angeles area gang member who had details of a murder he committed tattooed on his chest.

Friday, January 06, 2012

The way we were...Carl Hiaasen's Crime Prevention Tips for Tourists

Photograph © Brian Smith

Miami in the 1990's was a dangerous place for tourists.

In a March, 1991 story, the Miami Herald reported....
In less than 15 hours last weekend, three groups of tourists were robbed in North Central Dade, part of a recent rash of tourists being targeted by thieves, police said.
The three crimes reported Feb. 23 and 24 show how brazen the criminals have become:

* At 7:25 p.m. Feb. 23, a Coral Springs couple visiting Miami was stopped at a red light at Northwest 41st Street and 27th Avenue when three armed men rushed their car. When Isidore Greenman, 75, did not unlock his door, one of the men smashed a window and grabbed his wife's purse.

* About 10 a.m. Feb. 24, a French couple was duped into believing they had a flat tire near Northwest 54th Street and 27th Avenue. They were robbed.

* Fifteen minutes later, a German couple had pulled over at Northwest 82nd Street and Second Court to look at a map when two men robbed them at gunpoint.

Police reports indicate that tourists , driving rental cars, often are preyed upon at gas stations, fast-food restaurants and stop lights in an area bounded by 41st and 103rd streets, between Northeast Second and Northwest 27th Avenue. Repeated incidents have occurred at the corners of Northwest 103rd Street and Seventh Avenue, Northwest 62nd Street and 27th Avenue, and 79th Street and Seventh Avenue.
In late summer, 1991, car rental companies began removing bumper stickers and other insignia from their cars that might identify the occupants as tourists.

In mid-August, the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce announced it would print 500,000 copies of a brochure "designed to warn visitors about local crime without scaring them," according to a Herald story.

In an August 19, 1991 column, the Herald's Carl Hiaasen came up with some Miami-specific tips on avoiding crime he hoped the Chamber would include in their brochure.

CARL HIAASEN, Miami Herald Columnist

The Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce needs $40,000 for a project that might save lives: A new brochure that will advise tourists how not to become the victims of crime.

This is a milestone in the annals of South Florida promotion. Finally the chamber is admitting, in writing, that there is a crime problem. It's a small brave step, and let's hope it gets done. Forty grand is peanuts compared to the millions spent to subsidize auto races, tennis tournaments and Super Bowls.

A few weeks ago, Hertz and other rental companies began unbolting the logos from their cars because so many customers had been attacked by smash-and-grab robbers. Tourists, unfortunately, make prime targets.

"Don't leave your common sense at home!" the new brochure tells visitors. Keep your car doors locked and your windows up at all times. Don't pick up hitchhikers. Be careful when using ATM machines. If confronted by an armed robber, don't resist. If a suspicious person approaches you at an intersection, look both ways before running the red light.

It's solid generic advice that applies to traveling in any big American city. Miami, though, is different from other big cities. Before the new pamphlet goes to press, some of the warnings should be modified to fit our unique style of crime.

From the moment a tourist steps off the plane at Miami International, he or she must be vigilant and alert:

* If someone offers you $5,000 to carry his "grandmother's suitcase" through Customs, don't do it.

* When renting a car, check the trunk for dead bodies. If you find one, tell the rental agent immediately -- not only are you entitled to a different car, but also to a free upgrade from compact to mid-size.

* If you're taking a taxi, beware of drivers who speak fluent English. They're obviously novices who couldn't find Coconut Grove with a cruise missile. Once you select a taxi, though, be courteous and tip generously. Recently a local cabbie was convicted of beating a customer to death in a dispute over a fare.

* Choose a hotel carefully, and remember: Location isn't everything. If the block is cordoned off with bright yellow tape, ask your driver to recommend another place.

* When checking in, ask the desk clerk to put your belongings in the safe -- not just your valuables, everything. Underwear, dental floss, sunblock . . . lock it up with your jewelry. Anything left in your suite is liable to be gone when you get back. (A friend recently had his shoes stolen from his room at a very famous Miami Beach hotel. He was told that it happens all the time; apparently there's a booming underground market for used footwear).

* When going outdoors, try not to dress like a typical hayseed tourist. For instance, don't wear black socks under your sandals, and don't tape one of those tiny plastic sun shields over your nose. And that $800 Nikon dangling from your neck might as well be a neon sign that says, "Mug Me!"

* When playing on the beach, don't leave cash hidden in your tennis shoes. As noted before, shoes get stolen.

* Be wary of roadside peddlers, common at South Florida intersections. If you're really in the mood for fresh guavas, fine. But if a guy comes at your car with a cinderblock, assume he's not trying to sell it to you. Step on the gas.

* If you must carry a purse or wallet during your visit to Miami, experts recommend securing it to your torso with a sturdy 42-inch length of galvanized chain and a single-action Master padlock. Arc welding is an optional precaution.

* No Rolexes, even fakes. Among thieves, these are almost as popular as second-hand shoes.

* When boating in the Atlantic, don't pick up any bales, floating duffel bags or plastic packages. These are often marked, "Made in Medellin."

* On the highway, be careful of police impersonators. Even with a blue flashing light on the dashboard, it's unlikely that a 1968 Fairlane with no hubcaps is being driven by a real cop. Don't stop until you find one.

* Finally, when asking strangers for directions, don't ever begin the conversation with the words, "Hi, we're from out-of- town . . . "