Sunday, July 29, 2012

And now for some Kumbaya...brought to you by the folks at the Miami Herald

The Miami Herald has one of the most ethnically and racially diverse newsrooms in the country.

And the newsroom staff, in addition to covering breaking news, is always on the lookout for story lines that showcase the ethnic melting pot and rich, cultural bouillabaisse that goes into making Miami such a wonderful and tolerant place to live.

They never pass up an opportunity to show, that despite our different religions, nationalities and skin colors, South Floridians all have one thing in common: Our unwavering love for one another.'s that working out?

Yesterday, after American swimmer Michael Phelps was defeated by teammate Ryan Lochte in the 400-meter individual medley, headlines like this started popping up on the Internet: "Ryan Lochte wins 400 IM in blowout." Here's another: "Ryan Lochte wins gold in 400 IM, Michael Phelps fails to medal in first race at London Games."

But, here's how the Herald headlined the story on its website...highlighting the nationality of Lochte's mother and ignoring the real story of his athletic accomplishment:

(Lochte was born in Rochester, New York, to Steven Lochte and his Cuban-born wife. He grew up in Daytona Beach.)

Okay, so Lochte has never actually lived in Miami. But, he's still a Cuban-American.

And that's something all Miami Herald readers can be proud of and celebrate...right?

Guess again, Pedro!

The Herald headline writer poured the gasoline on the wood pile. The readers lit the match.

Check out some of the comments on the story left by the Herald's incredibly ignorant and grammatically-challenged readers:
  • It takes a Cuban to get it started...Congrats, Cubanito!! Go, USA!!! Where the envious indigenous bloggers?? Eat your heart out!

  • He's not cuban twit read his bios and see how cuban he is. He does not even have a cuban name. Typical cubans want to steal the limelight like everything else they steal.

  • his mother is makes him a cuban american. accept the truth. you dont like cubans? why? they've only made florida rich. dumb.. american b....t.. tell your fellow americans to stop using them food stamps and Section 8 housing and to get to work

  • The woman who bored him and carried him for 9 months was a Cuban woman....and fed him and the milk that nourished came out his Cuban mother's breasts,, and the food he ate and the first world he said was "Mami".!! If you think he's not Cuban, you're a delusional or an've never been around Cubans...

  • you must be a non miamian. cubans built this city in part that was a small piece of dump jim crow south racist dump before the cubans arrived here.

  • He looks Caucasian to me and not Cuban.

  • You are stupid woman!! How can anyone be so ignorant...You either never got out of Georgia and have seen a Cuban...or have never seen the Real Housewives of Miami!!! ....
    Cubans can be blond, brunette, blue eyes, green eyes, white skin as pale as any Aryan Swedish Anglo Saxon..or they can be black, of african decent just like African Americans. Aryan is not the only white Race, the Hemites and Semites are also Caucasian....Jews and Arabs, Spanish, Italians and Mediterrinean are also Caucasian...and Cubans don't have indigenous race like mexican, nicaraguans, guatemalans or most of Latinamericans...the native indians of Cubans were wipe out completely by the spaniard and europeans by the 15th Century...and Cuba have had only five generations......they can white (CAUCASIAN),black, asian or mixed (mulatos), 89% Cuban exiles are white!!! Get a course in etnicity and stop making stupid comments that have nothing whatsoever with facts and reality.

  • I don't know about you....but reading those comments leaves me feeling all warm and fuzzy.

    And don't forget, sometime between now and the end of the year, the Herald is going to ask you to pony up some of your hard-earned money for the privilege of reading garbage like that. Everyday.

    Saturday, July 28, 2012 to have paywall by year's end

    Click image to enlarge.

    [The Miami Herald's parent company] McClatchy says it intends “to roll out a metered plan in the third quarter in five of our markets” in its press release about the company’s second-quarter earnings, and it will start charging at the rest of its papers in the fourth quarter.
    We will offer readers a combined print and digital subscription package that will include access to web, certain mobile and replica editions for a relatively small increase to print home-delivery rates. We’ll also offer online-only digital subscriptions to users after they read a certain number of pages. Once the first wave is launched, we intend to expand this model to our other markets beginning in the fourth quarter of this year.
    There you have it more free lunches from the Miami Herald. If you want to read their crap first-class journalism; you're going to have to pay.

    Note to Herald executives: If you expect me to pay to read your content, I'll expect you to make a few minor tweaks first:
    You can start by assigning real reporters to cover the news. I'm not about to pay to read semi-literate crap like this: "Betancourt was assaulted and stricken at the head, enough to crack the front and side of his skull and bruising the brain on the opposite side of the impact."

    Re-design the website. What you have now is a complete disaster. And while you're at it, perhaps you can hire someone to come up with a site design that allows photographs to be displayed in a size that doesn't require viewing them with a magnifying glass.

    Hire someone who knows how to cover Breaking News. This person obviously has no clue how it's get rid of her. And, I'd like to see more news about Liberty City and Miami Beach and less about Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

    Do away with or completely revamp the current story comment system. I'm not about to pay my money to read a constant, never-ending stream of hate speech written by Internet trolls. You don't allow it in the pages of your paper, so why allow it online?

    Priorities. Why is it that the paper that once employed Edna Buchanan no longer has a full-time, experienced reporter covering the cops? But that same paper still has a full-time dance critic?

    And finally....

    Friday, July 27, 2012

    Shark steals camera; plans to open world's first underwater photo studio

    -via Spaceshark and PetaPixel.

    A valuable lesson about leaving expensive cameras unattended on the ocean floor with large sharks in the area. Filmed on location at Tiger Beach in the Bahamas.

    July 27, 2005 - Arthur Teele kills himself in Miami Herald lobby

    Seven years ago today, former Miami Commissioner Arthur E. Teele shocked South Florida by taking his life in the lobby of the Miami Herald building.

    Research by  Miami Noir: The Arthur E. Teele Story


    Thursday, July 28, 2005


    Former Miami commissioner Arthur E. Teele Jr., under indictment for taking bribes while in office, walked into the lobby of the Miami Herald building Wednesday evening and shot himself in the head. He died less than two hours later at Jackson Memorial Hospital.

    Wearing a dark suit, a light-blue shirt and a crimson tie, Teele , once one of Miami-Dade's most powerful politicians, entered The Herald lobby at about 6 p.m., and within minutes pulled a gun from a green canvas bag.

    Felix Nazco, 35, the security guard, said before pulling the gun Teele told him: ``Tell DeFede to tell my wife I love her,'' referring to Herald columnist Jim DeFede.

    Teele then stood with the gun to his head and gazed out at the street through the lobby's glass doors. As police arrived, he shot himself, security guard Eduardo Pavon said. Teele fell on his back. The pistol clattered across the terrazzo floor.

    Miami fire-rescue workers arrived seven minutes after a security guard called 911. A Miami fire-rescue spokesman said Teele had two bullet holes in the back of his head, and Miami police told The Herald he was declared dead at 7:50 p.m. at Jackson Memorial Hospital's Ryder Trauma Center. He was 59 years old.

    From The New York Times:
    Miami Paper Fires Columnist, Adding Own Twist to Tale of Sex, Politics and Suicide

    MIAMI, July 28 - It seemed like a throwback to "Miami Vice": an eccentric politician, recently accused of money laundering and soliciting male prostitutes, fatally shoots himself in the lobby of The Miami Herald after an anguished phone conversation with a star columnist.

    But the storyline grew even stranger on Thursday as employees of the newspaper reacted with outrage after learning that the columnist, Jim DeFede, had been fired for secretly taping his conversation with the distraught man - a possible violation of state law.

    Mr. DeFede, who chronicles the surreal politics of South Florida, said his conversation with the man, Arthur Teele Jr., a former city commissioner recently indicted on federal charges of mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering, was so disturbing that he quietly began recording it "out of concern" for Mr. Teele.

    Thursday, July 26, 2012

    Michael Lawson says goodbye to the Marlins

    Michael Lawson and his sons attend the Home Run Derby
    in Kansas City, July, 2012.

    Michael Lawson loves the game of baseball.

    We all know someone like Lawson.

    He's the  guy who lives and breathes every aspect of the game.

    And he just doesn't attend games. He buys jerseys and ball caps and baseball memorabilia. He takes his sons to games. Earlier this year he completed a pilgrimage started ten years ago that included a visit to every major league ballpark in America.

    In a town full of bandwagon jumpers and fair weather fans, Michael Lawson is a rarity. He's a true fan. 

    I met Lawson 11 years ago this week at Pro Player stadium where he had gone to watch the Marlins play the Cincinnati Reds on a Sunday.

    I was shooting pictures for a New York Times story on poor attendance at Marlins and Tampa Bay Devil Rays games.

    From the photographer's pit I spotted Lawson high up in the cheap seats. From my vantage point at field level, he appeared as just a solitary speck in the midst of a sea of empty, orange seats. I made my way up to his section and shot a few images.

    He told me that he lived just 10 minutes away from the stadium and that he often came to the ball park on days when his wife was shopping or out with friends. He was unapologetic when he admitted to me that he enjoyed the solitude afforded by an empty section.

    Michael Lawson at a Marlins game at Pro Player
    Stadium, July, 2001.

    Lawson was enthusiastic and optimistic about the Marlins' future on that Sunday.

    He told New York Times reporter Rick Bragg, that he believed the fans would eventually return.

    Bragg wrote:
    But just in case major league baseball in Miami is only a passing dream, "I'll relish every moment I can," [Lawson] said.
    Fast forward 11 years. Lawson sent me this email today:
    I still have the front page of the NY Times framed and hanging up in my house and I'll never forget getting the paper that day day, going right to the Sports section and then realizing it was on the front page.
    I still use baseball as my escape from it all and just finished visiting all the MLB parks this year.
    You'll still find me still sitting alone from time to time in the Upper Deck at some random ballpark, but mainly with my 2 little boys who have started to adopt a love for the game as well.
    In his email to me, Lawson pasted a copy of an open letter he wrote to the Marlins last night. He has also sent the email to a few sports writers.
    Dear Florida/Miami Marlins,

    I’m officially done with you. I am sick and tired of watching you be a farm team for the rest of Major League Baseball. I was there the day the first pitch was thrown and traveled 1,000+ miles this year to see the new stadium only to continue to get let down once again.

    The continuous trades make me sick, with all the money I have spent on merchandise and tickets. Over the years, I have said goodbye via trade to Josh Beckett, Kevin Brown, Jeff Conine, Bobby Bonilla, Edgar Renteria, Moises Alou, Gary Sheffield, Al Leiter, Robb Nen, Mike Piazza, Carlos Delgado, Ryan Dempster, Cliff Floyd, Charles Johnson, Mike Hampton, Kevin Millar, Adrian Gonzalez, Derrek Lee, Brad Penny, Mike Lowell, Luis Castillo, Juan Pierre, Miguel Cabrera, Dontrelle Willis and now Anibal Sanchez and Hanley Ramirez. With the trade deadline still six days away, I doubt I will recognize the lineup on 8/1.

    Thanks for the two World Series victories, though. I was in the stadium for Game 7 of the 1997 World Series cheering as Craig Counsell crossed home plate, and then back for Opening Day in 1998, cheering after you decimated the team, as everyone booed Wayne Huizenga while he was driven around the field in a gold cart during the pre-game ceremonies.

    I travel every year back to South Florida to see the team in Spring Training and during the regular season, only to constantly have this happen. I’m now done for good. You are like a bad relationship that you keep telling yourself will only get better. You are the definition of insanity – “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

    It is my time now to make a trade. Your entire organization is being traded for a new club which houses many of your former players: the Detroit Tigers. I have been following them for many years, as I took up residence there, but always retained my loyalty to you.

    Not any longer. 100% of my loyalty has been shifted. It will no longer be “Let’s Go Fish,” but “Let’s Go Tigers.”

    Goodbye Billy the Marlin, and hello Paws. Thanks for the memories, though. The good ones were erased by all of the moves you made over the years, but I will always be grateful to you for bringing a professional sports team to South Florida. Even though Joe Robbie, Pro Player, Dolphins and Sun Life Stadium were empty on most nights, I paid my hard earned money to see live professional baseball for many years and created everlasting memories that I will carry with me for ever, with the last one being now.

    It’s been real,

    Michael Lawson

    The Con

    Click image to enlarge.

    "As the epicenter of the nation’s Medicare fraud and capital of assorted con men, scam artists and Ponzi schemers, we [in Miami] should be extremely leery of newcomers who roll into town making big promises. We’ve heard such promises from the likes of David Paul, Sheikh Mohammad Al-Fassi , Allen Stanford, Nevin Shapiro and Scott Rothstein, to name but a few. As I was taught to say years ago, you trust your mother but cut the cards." -Michael Putney, in a Miami Herald column, Sept. 20, 2011

    Marlins' Jeffrey Loria and David Samson conned Miami, lined their pockets and held a fire sale

    by Jeff Passan, Yahoo Sports

    Here is how the con worked.

    The Florida Marlins owners whined, and they brayed, and they swore up and down that they couldn't afford the new stadium necessary to raise their payroll from embarrassing levels and compete annually. And they got it, the vast majority on the taxpayer's teat no less, this gleaming new gem from which they would fatten their pockets by taking all of the ticket and concession and parking and advertising sales, every last cent, no matter how unseemly that felt.

    To allay fears, they changed their name to the Miami Marlins, their colors to a rainbow vomiting, their image to reflect the city, hot enough that the New Yorker would profile them and Showtime would broadcast a documentary on them and free agents Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell would take the money. People actually bought into the thing, recognized them as a real team and not just some affiliate run by a couple of swindlers who had already screwed Montreal and were primed to do the same to another city.

    It wasn't ever going to end any other way. You knew that. You knew. When Jeffrey Loria and David Samson are involved, it can't end any other way, because they know no different. Loria is the owner of the Marlins, Samson the president, and they're turning the Miami Marlins into a chop shop. Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante were traded first this week, to the Tigers. Then Hanley Ramirez, who until this year Loria regarded as the franchise, to the Dodgers. Next could be Josh Johnson, their homegrown ace.

    That would be $32.75 million shed within a week, bringing the Marlins from their $100 million dream back to the bottom quarter of payrolls in baseball.

    And Miami is stuck with $2.4 billion in stadium debt service for that.

    This would be falling-down funny if it weren't so very sad. Two charlatans, ripping off a major American city and laughing all the way to the bank.

    Read the complete Yahoo! Sports story here.

    Kira, the Dolphin dog

    Kira just might be, the most interesting dog in the world.

    An ordinary dog with extraordinary friends...each day, she leaves boring canine pursuits on the shore and heads out to sea to do something much more exciting: swim with wild dolphins. Watch the magical dog-and-dolphin encounter in this nature video filmed in the pristine waters of Ponta do Ouro in Mozambique.


    Wednesday, July 25, 2012

    Sheep, Wolves and Sheepdogs

    Anyone that has been around sheep knows that they don’t get along with sheepdogs. If the dog walks through the middle of the herd, they part like the Red Sea. And if he is close, they don’t turn their back on him. They don’t trust him. But if a wolf approaches the herd, they all run behind the sheepdog. They know the sheepdog will not allow the wolf near the herd. And the amazing part… the sheepdog will confront the wolf, and fight if he is attacked. He will hold his ground, even if it means he may die. Die trying to save a sheep that doesn’t even like him. -from an Internet posting


    The sheep generally do not like the sheepdog. He looks a lot like the wolf. He has fangs and the capacity for violence. The difference, though, is that the sheepdog must not, cannot and will not ever harm the sheep.
    Still, the sheepdog disturbs the sheep. He is a constant reminder that there are wolves in the land. They would prefer that he didn’t tell them where to go, or give them traffic tickets, or stand at the ready in our airports in camouflage fatigues holding an M-16. The sheep would much rather have the sheepdog cash in his fangs, spray paint himself white, and go, “Baa.”
    -On Sheep, Wolves and Sheepdogs (From the book, On Combat, by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman)


    It was just another random act of criminal stupidity that's become all too common lately in South Florida. Only two TV news outlets bothered to cover the crime.

    A 24 year-old petty criminal assaults a tourist from Germany in broad daylight in Miami Beach last Monday; snatching his iPad and then making a getaway in an SUV driven by his accomplice - a 28 year-old man with a lengthy rap sheet. Also in the SUV: a 33 year-old woman with a history of drug use and prostitution.

    The crime occurred in the middle of the day on Indian Creek Drive. Someone quickly called police with a description of the getaway vehicle.

    Here's what happened next according to Miami Beach Police spokesman Bobby Hernandez: "Officer Miguel Noa heard the BOLO and remembered hearing a similar one the week before. He spotted the Gold Tahoe at Dade Blvd and Alton Road and gave chase. They took off and crashed at the canal bank at Dade and North Michigan."

    Back-up units quickly arrived and soon placed Schnaider Fontilus, Amiran Smith and Scott Kinler Jr. under arrest.
    Fontilus, the man who snatched the iPad, has been arrested in the past for drug possession and battery.

    Kinler, the driver, was charged with fleeing a police officer and strong-arm robbery. He was already out on bond on another charge of fleeing a police officer last April.

    Monday's robbery is the second brazen assault on a tourist in Miami Beach this month.

    Back on July 14, a trio of tourists from Norway were accosted and robbed by a man who claimed he was a police officer. The real Miami Beach cops quickly arrested 29 year-old Charles Diaz and charged him with a slew of felonies including: impersonating a police officer, battery and strong-arm robbery.

    The two robberies, which occurred 10 days apart, don't appear to be the work of criminal geniuses. But, the victims' reactions should be a cause for concern for city tourism officials. The last thing Miami Beach needs are foreign tourists returning home with tales of rampant lawlessness on the streets of Miami Beach.

    Are Hvalbye, the Norwegian tourist who was robbed on July 14 told WSVN: "In this district, on Euclid? Close to the beach? It kind of surprised me, and it was kind of a reality check right there."

    Gerd Niels, the German tourist who had his iPad stolen told WSVN: "I'm lucky I'm still alive." Indeed.

    And lucky for both victims that the sheepdogs arrived in time to confront the wolves.

    The Emancipation of Prince

    Be careful what you wish for...

    Here's a short film about a precocious Chihuahua called Prince who wants a new owner in the absolute worst way.

    Directed by Gavin O'Grady.

    Tuesday, July 24, 2012

    Metrorail's Airport Station opens July 28

    Miami News, May 21, 1986.

    Twenty-eight years after it opened, Miami-Dade County's Metrorail will finally take you to the airport.

    “By directly linking our airport to our urban center, we’re joining the ranks of the great world cities – London, Paris, Tokyo – that already enjoy this kind of dynamic, game-changing connectivity,” said Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez. 

    Better late than never, I guess.

    The "Orange Line" is scheduled to carry its first passengers to MIA this Saturday, July 28.

    H/T: Alfred Spellman

    Your tax dollars at work

    If you're planning to fly anywhere this summer, you might want to skip this.

    The geniuses who run the Federal Aviation Administration came up with a program that was supposed to detect safety problems in the nation's air traffic control system.

    But according to a report released yesterday, the program "has been used by some air-traffic controllers to escape punishment for sleeping on duty."

    From Bloomberg Businessweek:
    A U.S. Federal Aviation Administration program created for early detection of safety problems has been used by some air-traffic controllers to escape punishment for sleeping on duty, a report said.

    Controllers have been allowed to report poor personal conduct rather than the kind of performance problems the program was intended to find, the Transportation Department inspector general’s office said today.

    The intent of the reporting program is to improve aviation safety, not to provide amnesty to controllers who like to watch movies or take a nap while on the job,” said Representative John Mica, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

    The FAA program, known as Air Traffic Safety Action, was modeled on successful programs at airlines. It was intended to discover potential systemic safety risks before they become serious. The FAA encouraged reporting of performance lapses by preventing controllers from being punished as retribution for making reports.

    The program shows promise as a tool to promote increased safety reporting, the inspector general said.

    In a small number of the 41,000 reports filed through December, the FAA allowed employees to report falling asleep, viewing a personal video player while at their positions and refusing to take handoffs of responsibility for flights in a timely manner, making them immune from disciplinary action, the inspector general said.

    Click here to read a related story from the Associated Press.

    Anaheim CA cops demonstrate how not to handle an angry crowd

    This past weekend, Anaheim CA police demonstrated how not to handle a crowd of angry citizens by....
    1) Firing rubber bullets into a crowd that included women and children

    2) Allowing "an unrestrained police dog [to lunge] at a group of people that included children."

    From the Los Angeles Times:
    Anaheim Police Chief John Welter said his department was "very concerned" about an uptick in fatal officer-involved shootings and the outrage that has surrounded the two most recent weekend incidents.

    The latest incident -- which resulted in the death of a man Sunday night -- marked the city’s fifth fatal police shooting this year, said Anaheim Police Sgt. Bob Dunn. Last year, there were four officer-involved shootings, compared with six so far this year, he said.
    Tensions were high in the Orange County city after the first shooting Saturday, which resulted in the death of a man identified as 25-year-old Manuel Diaz. Authorities said Diaz was shot in the 700 block of North Anna Drive after running from police, but they did not reveal what led to the shooting.

    The Orange County district attorney's office — which handles investigations into officer-involved shootings — was called to the scene, but Welter said as police worked to to secure the area, a crowd gathered and “started becoming very vocal and agitated.”

    The result was a melee with bottles and rocks thrown at officers, prompting authorities to fire non-lethal rounds and pepper balls to settle the crowd, police said. Television footage of the confrontation showed an unrestrained police dog lunging at a group of people that included children.

    One man was bitten on the arm, suffering "small puncture wounds," before police restrained the dog, Welter said. The dog had accidentally gotten out of its handler’s car because a rear window was “not secure,” the chief said.

    Saturday, July 21, 2012

    Rick Scott gets to work as "Ranger" Rick

    -via the Tampa Bay Times:
    Times staff photographer Edmund Fountain followed Gov. Rick Scott at Hillsborough River State Park [Thursday] as part of his series of "Let's Get to Work" days. Today's assignment: See what a day in the life of a park ranger is like.
    Looks a little like Ricky was aiming for "Smokey and the Bandit," but ended up with "Deliverance."

    Click here for more photos of "Ranger" Rick.

    rick scott, slack-jawed park ranger, goofy park ranger, doofus

    Friday, July 20, 2012

    The Face of a Madman

    CNN has obtained a photograph of suspected Aurora CO shooter James Holmes. He was a PhD candidate in neuroscience at University of CO.

    More (via

    * ABC News apologizes for “incorrect” report about theater shooter James Holmes having Tea Party ties. (Politico)

    * Aspiring sportscaster (and self-described “grammar snob”) Jessica Ghawi was killed at the theater. @JessicaRedfield — her Twitter handle — sent her last tweet from the theater. Incredibly, she was in Toronto’s Eaton Center seconds before the June 2 shooting there, but “an odd feeling … led me to go outside and unknowingly out of harm‘s way. It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around how a weird feeling saved me from being in the middle of a deadly shooting,” she wrote on June 5.

    * Theater shooting victim Jessica Redfield was a passionate journalist. (Sporting News)

    * KMGH in Denver is live streaming their coverage.

    * James Holmes, Aurora shooting suspect, was med-school dropout and loner, say neighbors. -via NY Daily News

    aurora james holmes photo, aurora theater shooting photos, shooter james holmes pictures

    Thursday, July 19, 2012

    $$ Dancers Wanted...Will Train $$

    While poking around in the archives of the defunct Miami News, I stumbled across this ad from back in the day for a northwest Miami strip club called The Trap.

    From the Miami News, April 26, 1985.

    I was curious to see what had replaced The Trap. Surely this place wasn't still around more than a quarter-century later.

    After a quick Google Map search I am able to report The Trap is alive and well.

    The Trap, 2011. (Click to enlarge.)

    So well, in fact, that they are HIRING DANCERS. No experience necessary. Like the sign says, they'll be happy to train any inexperienced applicants. (I get the feeling this place hasn't changed all that much in 27 years.)

    Get in line, ladies!

    Monday, July 16, 2012

    Edna Buchanan is pissed!

    In Edna Buchanan's 18 years as the Miami Herald's Pulitzer Prize-winning ace crime reporter, she matched wits with surly editors, bad cops, assorted petty criminals and more than a few shady lawyers.

    She once spent 120 hours interviewing a notorious serial killer at the Dade County Jail.

    During a Today Show interview in the early 80s, Buchanan told a national TV audience that she protected herself by carrying not one, but two, loaded pistols.

    In 2002, a Miami Beach handyman told police that Buchanan threatened to shoot him between the eyes because she suspected he was kidnapping neighborhood cats and sending them to an animal shelter...and their untimely deaths.

    Given all that, you'd think that the politicians in Buchanan's hometown of Miami Beach would go out of their way and not to piss her off.

    But, you'd be wrong.

    What follows is a rant Buchanan posted today on her Facebook page. It's classic Edna.
    Did you ever arrive somewhere expecting a welcome, then realize you were unwanted?

    Most of us have had that experience.

    We did last week. We were clearly considered unwelcome intruders at the open-to-the-public Miami Beach Budget Meeting at the city’s new building at 1775 Meridian Avenue.

    Commissioner Deede Weithorn chaired the event, scheduled to start at 2 p.m. When it finally began at 2:30:

    + There were too few chairs for the public.

    + Little or no air conditioning in a stuffy room.

    + The lone microphone did not work and the city officials deciding how to spend our tax money did so seated at a table, with no sound system. No one past the first row or two in the audience ever knew or saw who was actually speaking -- even if they could hear them.

    + There were not enough copies of the facts and figures for taxpayers who attended. A man distributed a few then suggested we “share with others.”
    Can it be that there is no copy machine in that modern mid-rise, parking garage building full of city departments and offices?

    If so, Office Depot, and a Kinko’s were mere minutes away. But apparently the little people, we residents, taxpayers, and voters, were not worth the effort.

    They did everything but padlock the bathrooms to make us leave.

    When a longtime resident and taxpayer in front of us turned around after a hour and forty minutes and swore, “I’d sooner go to the roof and jump off, than sit here another minute,” we agreed and took our leave.

    Shame on them. They succeeded.

    Shame on us. We left. We must all resolve to make the effort to scrutinize and question every decision city officials make about our money and our futures at this crucial time in city history.

    Remember, back in the nineties they persuaded us to vote for General Obligation bonds by promising much needed improvements to our neighborhood. When the bonds passed, they said they’d break ground on our neighborhood project in Fall, 1998. Later, in ‘01, they swore again that the promised work would soon begin. It never did. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Why aren’t their pants on fire? What happened to our improvements – and all that money?

    And don’t believe it now when they say residents will not pay the new Resort Tax hike they are urging you to support. Think about it. When you buy a meal, a drink, etc. how will the cashier know you are a resident and not a tourist? Don’t vote for it! You are paying now!

    When you shop at a Publix, a Walgreen’s, etc. on the Miami side of the Bay, check your receipts. You’ll see that you pay less tax than at those same chains in Miami Beach. In addition, identical products are often more expensive on the Beach. When I asked a Miami Walgreen’s manager why an $18.95 item I bought at his Biscayne Boulevard store is always $21.95 at Miami Beach Walgreen’s, he explained that “store managers on the Beach can and do charge higher prices at their discretion because, you know, it’s Miami Beach.” Made sense to him.

    Ever see lower gas prices on the Beach than across the Bay? Never. We already pay tourist prices, tourist taxes. We pay higher taxes for less quality of life.

    Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Don’t let them fool us again.

    As we left the “Budget Meeting” we couldn’t help but note the “art” on the walls. Bad photos in cheap frames. Bleah! Whatever happened to Art In Public Places which required that a small percentage of a public building’s cost be devoted to art?

    There is spectacular public art at the Stephen P. Clark Center, at 111 NW First St., and at the Medical Examiner’s Office at One Bob Hope Road. But not so much at the Beach’s new Meridian Avenue office building where the sleekest, brightest, and most attractive piece of art is the coke machine in the lobby. Where did that money go?

    Just wondering,

    Edna Buchanan and T. Michael Smith

    Sunday, July 15, 2012

    Will you vote for a 'jerk' in November?

    Barack Obama campaigns Saturday during a downpour in Glen Allen, Va.
    (Photograph by Jason Reed /Reuters)

    I always clench my jaw when I read one of those presidential poll stories that begin with: "If the election were held tomorrow..."

    Well, the election won't be held tomorrow. Or next week.

    The 2012 presidential election is on Tuesday, November 6, 2012 - almost 4 months from now.

    And a lot can happen between now and then.

    And you can expect plenty more of those poll stories to appear on the front page of your local paper in the next 114 days.

    According to Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times, the latest Florida poll shows President Obama and former Gov. Mitt Romney "essentially tied in America's biggest battleground state."

    The Times' Smith writes:
    Dig into the numbers, and what's most surprising is that Obama is at all competitive with Romney:

    • 54 percent of likely Florida voters say the country is on the "wrong track" with Obama at the helm.

    • Only 35 percent believe his policies have improved the economy, while 41 percent say they have made it worse.

    • 46 percent of voters approve of the president's job performance, while 50 percent disapprove.

    Romney's numbers could change dramatically either way once he picks his running mate. A number of other factors could also affect both candidates' poll numbers between now and election day.

    But what's not likely to change much is the lead Obama has over Romney when it comes to likeability.

    Much of Obama's appeal is due in part to the fact that - unlike Mitt Romney - he seems to connect with average Americans. And that drives conservatives crazy.

    Who hasn't seen the photograph of the Leader of the Free World fist-bumping a White House custodian?

    Or the video of the Commander-in-Chief "magically" soothing a crying baby?

    And how can you not like a guy who mercilessly ripped an unrepentant blowhard like Donald Trump at the 2011 White House Correspondent's Dinner?

    Obama's rapport with voters surfaced again yesterday when he braved a torrential downpour and spoke to rain-soaked supporters at a campaign stop in Virginia.

    (Perhaps Obama saw the rain as an omen. In October 2008, then candidate Obama campaigned in the rain in Pennsylvania while his opponent, John McCain cancelled an event because of the weather. And we all know how that ended.)

    But it takes more  than being well-liked or giving an occasional campaign speech in the rain to get elected.

    There's also the "jerk factor." In addition to a candidate's stand on issues, many Americans also take into consideration whether or not the candidate is a jerk. Face it, no one likes a jerk.

    In a piece posted last May on The Daily Beast, columnist Michael Tomasky explored that very question: "It’s been a long time since the country elected a man as personally unappealing as Mitt Romney. Will Americans overlook their deeply held conviction that he’s a jerk?"

    After the revelation that Romney may have bullied a gay classmate in high school, Tomasky wrote, "We learned ... that [Romney] behaved like an a**hole and is now pretending to forget it. A jerk is one thing. But a jerk who takes no responsibility for his jerkitude is pretty much the definition of an unlikeable person."

    I'm sure some of Romney's supporters will say that, he too, is likeable. Just as likeable as Obama.


    From The Daily Beast piece: "He reeks of privilege. Every time he says something off the cuff he says something obnoxious. Corporations are people, pal. I like firing people. Where on earth did you get those Godforsaken cookies?"

    Or, consider the exchange that the draft-dodging Romney had with a gay Viet Nam vet while campaigning in New Hampshire last December.

    November 6th is a long way off. Romney still has to win his party's nomination and pick a running mate.

    But, I'm pretty sure along the way he'll say more stupid things. Count on it.

    And that just might widen President Obama's likability margin even more.

    After all, here in Florida, we know all too well what happens when a jerk gets into office.

    Thursday, July 12, 2012

    Your lunch hour time waster - The worst police sketch, ever

    This could be, quite possibly, the worst police sketch of a crime suspect, ever.

    The New Orleans Police Department released it yesterday in an effort to find a man they are looking for in connection with a rape of a woman last month in New Orleans.

    Maybe, instead of looking for this guy, they should be looking for a new sketch artist.

    Make sure you check out what New Orleans residents are saying about the sketch at

    Tuesday, July 10, 2012

    The Great Canadian Potato Chip Caper

    This is not a story from The Onion. This actually happened last month in a town called Saanich in Victoria, British Columbia.

    From Yahoo News:
    "These were very specific, and hard-to-obtain, barbecue chips."

    That's how police in Saanich, Victoria, British Columbia, described a bag of potato chips stolen by two drunk university students from a garage in a crime that Vancouver Island's CTV spent more than three minutes soberly reporting last month. A video of the Onion-like segment posted on YouTube has since been making the social media rounds, and it's easy to see why.

    "The students were wrapping up a night of drinking," CTV anchor Hudson Mack says in a serious tone, "when they were overcome by a certain craving—the kind that hits late and hits hard."


    "It appears that the effervescent chip package in the open garage appeared too yummy to pass up," Saanich Police Sgt. Dean Jantzen said at a press conference to address the BBQ chip burglary.

    "I haven't tried these for myself," Jantzen added, "but my understanding is that particular brand of barbecue is quite tasty."

    Thankfully, Jantzen had a sense of humor about the crumb-covered crime. "These are first time chip offenders," he said before bursting into laughter.

    Monday, July 09, 2012

    The way we were...Telstar communications satellite launched, July 10, 1962

    The Miami News, July 10, 1962. (Click to enlarge)

    July 10, 1962...
    CAPE CANAVERAL (AP) - A "switchboard" satellite rocketed into orbit today as a possible first step toward a space relay system for swift, world-wide transmission of radio, telephone and television signals.
    Telstar: A half century of information from space

    By A. Michael Noll

    A half-century ago, the world became much smaller. Until then, it was hard to get telephone and television signals from other continents. But then came the launch of Telstar on July 10, 1962 — and everything began to change.

    Telstar was the first active relay communication satellite. It received a signal up from Earth and then retransmitted that signal back down, spanning the Atlantic Ocean and bringing continents closer together. The frequency bands used for the uplink and downlink are still the ones mostly used today — Telstar got it right from the beginning. The first test television transmission on July 10, 1962, was a taped video of an American flag. The signal was received in France, but missed in England because the British had the polarization wrong. Later, the first telephone calls across the Atlantic by satellite would be relayed over Telstar. A few weeks afterward, on July 23, Europeans saw Walter Cronkite live, a few minutes of a Chicago Cubs game and even a little of a news conference with President John F. Kennedy.

    Friday, July 06, 2012

    'Oh, hi! Am I on TV?'

    Fox 17 news reporter Nicole DiDonato and her new friend.

    From Yahoo News:
    Fox 17 reporter Nicole DiDonato was delivering her live report in Grand Rapids, Michigan on ways to beat the summer heat when a stray cat suddenly climbed up onto her shoulder.

    We've all heard of newshounds. But what would you call this breaking news kitty? A repurrter?

    Amazingly, DiDonato remains mostly composed as the cat climbs up the back of her leg, then comes to rest on her shoulder. When the camera cuts back to the news studio in Grand Rapids, Mich., the Fox 17 anchors note that they heard meowing off-screen while DiDonato was preparing to go live with her report.

    Tuesday, July 03, 2012

    Andy Griffith: 1926-2012

    From the Raleigh News & Observer:
    Andy Griffith’s broad shoulders carried a heavy load for more than 50 years. In 1960, he created an iconic fictional character so noble that today, church groups still seek moral guidance in Sheriff Andy Taylor’s every televised word, deed and gesture.

    And over the years, when Griffith insisted that Mayberry, the perfect little town he invented, was absolutely not based on his hometown of Mount Airy, N.C., fans nodded, winked, said “Sure, Andy, whatever you say,” and went right on believing what they wanted to believe.

    What they wanted to believe was that around the next bend or over the next hill was a place like Mayberry and a man as fair, wise and decent as Sheriff Andy.
    Andy Griffith never won an Oscar, an Emmy or a Tony for his acting. But then, around here we never thought of him as an actor. He was just our friend and neighbor, and we were so proud of him we couldn’t hardly stand it.

    And if the rest of the world happened to tune in to his popular shows and just happened to assume folks in North Carolina were anywhere near as good-hearted as Andy Taylor, Ben Matlock or the good people of Mayberry, well, that was OK with us, too.

    Monday, July 02, 2012

    'Push to add drama'

    To launch the ... TV channel TNT in Belgium [the network] placed a big red push button on an average Flemish square of an average Flemish town. A sign with the text "Push to add drama" invited people to use the button.

    Sunday, July 01, 2012

    Miami Herald editors try to get away with a little journalistic trickery

    Click image to enlarge.

    So, here's the problem. You're in charge of what used to be the state's largest and most powerful newspaper.

    But for the past half-dozen years or so, things haven't been going so well.

    Your reporting staff has been slashed to almost nothing and readers and advertisers are leaving in droves.

    Then, seven months ago, a relatively tiny paper from the other side of the state sends a reporter to town and kicks your ass - figuratively speaking - on a story your staff should have known about and reported on.

    That's exactly what happened last December when the Sarasota Herald-Tribune - a paper with half the circulation of the Miami Herald - discovered that Florida's dirtiest cop, German Bosque, was working in Opa-Locka, a small municipality that's just a dozen miles north of One Herald Plaza.

    (Click here to read the Sarasota Herald-Tribune's Dec. 4, 2011 story on Opa-Locka police Sgt. German Bosque.)

    So, what do you do?

    Well, if you're an editor at the Herald, you wait seven months, then run the story this weekend as if it's your own and cross your fingers and hope that none of your few remaining readers remember seeing it elsewhere.

    But, on the off-chance that some may remember; you credit the Sarasota paper, slipping in the barest of mentions somewhere around the 46th paragraph of the story.

    This is not the first time the Herald has been beaten on a story and then tried to play catch-up months later by acting as if they were first with the information.

    In 1996, the Daily Business Review broke one story after another on mismanagement at the Port of Miami.

    In May 1997, the Herald finally got around to covering the scandal at the port. None of their stories bothered to mention the groundbreaking work done by the Review. The Review's editor, Edward Wasserman, retaliated by spending $5,000 to rent a billboard directly across the street from the Herald building.

    From Miami New Times:
    Under the [billboard's] headline "Following the leader" are two opposing images. On the left are three issues of the Miami Herald; on the right is a front page from the Review. Both papers display stories about Lunetta. Publishing dates are included in large type: The Herald editions are from May 1997; the Review copy dates from December 1996. To the right are these words: "Don't wait for the Herald to catch up." The billboard, located on Biscayne Boulevard at Thirteenth Street, is angled so that it points directly at the Miami Herald's headquarters across the street.

    If anyone at the Herald is reading this, here are a few thoughts from someone who's been reading Miami newspapers for over a half-century:
    Two of the surest ways for a newspaper to squander what little credibility it might still have is to over-promote or under-credit its material. To pretend for 45 paragraphs that you're reporting new material is truly shocking.

    But far worse is the absolute black hole of editing here.

    In an age when everyone is on the lookout for plagiarism or near-plagiarism or similar behavior, when respectable publications go out of their way to prominently include "...was first reported by...." references high up in their follow-ups (even when you get grotesquely beat on a story, as you were on this story), how is it remotely possible that any high-ranking editor signed off on this obvious deception?

    Does anyone there still have even a vestige of professional pride?

    Miami Beach taxpayers get ready to bid farewell to Jorge Gonzalez...and a whole bunch of their money

    From the Miami Herald:
    By David Smiley
    The Miami Herald

    Miami Beach City Manager Jorge Gonzalez is enjoying a fairly sweet sendoff for someone who was forced to resign following another city hall corruption scandal.

    Gonzalez and his wife traveled to Switzerland along with Mayor Matti Herrera Bower and stayed in the Hotel Basel for several nights in mid-June as part of an annual city delegation to the renowned Art Basel fair. The city each year pays for or reimburses hotel nights, meals and plane tickets for officials and their spouses or significant others.

    Gonzalez, who steps down July 8 after nearly 12 years atop the city, will also receive a farewell party Monday morning in a junior ballroom in the Miami Beach Convention Center — hosted, according to the invitation, by the same commissioners who forced him out the door.

    Gonzalez will remain on the city’s employee rolls and healthcare plan while burning roughly $170,000 in accrued sick and leave. No word yet on what his severance package will be worth.
    Earlier story: Cost of getting rid of Gonzalez is still a mystery
    Nearly a month after Miami Beach’s city manager was forced to resign, the looming cost of his ouster is still unknown to the elected officials who pushed him out the door — and the taxpayers who will foot the bill.