Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Your Random Pixels 'Miami Moment'®

This afternoon at Publix.*

(*Shot with my crappy cell phone camera.)

(Click to enlarge.)

Former Miami Herald photo editor is South Florida's best 'Paparazzo of Pooches'

Growing up in Independence, Missouri, Suzy Mast Lee believed that all her friends had a darkroom and photo studio in the basements of their homes.

Suzy's father, an engineer and weekend amateur photographer, had crammed the basement of their home with studio lights, an enlarger, yellow boxes of photo paper and darkroom chemicals. Using a child's logic, she reasoned that other homes in her neighborhood were similarly equipped.

She has no memory of a time when she wasn't staring at the world through a camera viewfinder.

Says Suzy, "I've always owned a camera."

In high school, she took pictures for the school newspaper and yearbook.

At the University of Kansas, she studied journalism and worked as a photo editor on the school paper.

After graduation, she ended up in Maryland, where she worked for a few years as a freelance photographer before landing a job as a staff photographer at a newspaper in Hagerstown.

In 1991, she was hired as a photo editor with the Associated Press in Washington. Her duties included selecting and distributing images made by AP's Washington photographers and AP photographers in the Southeast.

One day, her boss told her a photographer in Miami was being transferred to Washington. That photographer, Wilfredo Lee, had been a classmate of Suzy's at the University of Kansas. The two ended up working together on many big Washington stories, including the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal. One thing led to another and on Oct. 1, 1998, they married.

(Wilfredo was part of an AP photographic team that won the Pulitzer Prize for its photos of the people and events connected to Bill Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky and the ensuing impeachment hearings.)

A few months later - in December of 1998 - the couple ended up in Miami. Wilfredo joined the AP bureau there and Suzy found a job at the Miami Herald as a photo editor.

But, by 2008, the Herald's fortunes were declining, and the paper - like others in the McClatchy chain - accelerated a series of drastic cuts in its staff. After surviving several rounds of that sort of thing, Suzy had enough. She left the paper in October 2010.

With lots of time on her hands, Suzy was soon spending part of her day walking the couple's two dogs - a Cocker Spaniel named Pixel, and Weegee, a Cocker Spaniel-Dachshund mix.

Pixel and Weegee enjoy a beach run.
© Suzanne K. Mast Lee.

At some point she started carrying her camera on the walks and returning home with pictures of not just her dogs, but also the neighborhood cats, lizards, parrots and wild birds that frequented an area near a lake a few blocks from her home at the northern end of Miami Beach.

The routine dog walks had become daily photo safaris.

On weekends, Suzy and her husband visit dog-friendly beaches, shooting pictures of Pixel and Weegee learning to "surf" and playing with other dogs.

Weegee and Pixel at the beach.
© Wilfredo Lee.

Back home, the couple upload their photos to Facebook.

Suzy has uploaded more than 5,000 photos to Facebook in albums with names like "Daily Dog Walk 2012" and "Pups visit the Beach" and "Cat Faces."

And along the way, she's picked up scores of fans who check her Facebook page daily for new photos.

One of her Facebook friends is Tampa journalist Tamara Lush who says, "She captures the essence and joy of what it's like to be a dog."

One of Suzy's former Herald colleagues, Elinor Brecher, thinks she knows what makes Suzy's dog photographs so special: "I'm convinced Suzy was a Cocker Spaniel in a past life."

See more of Suzy's amazing work by clicking here or in the slide show below.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Visit Suzy's Website:

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The way we were...The Smith's Book Store Raid of 1913

Miami's first swipe at public indecency just may have occurred 100 years ago, on the afternoon of July 14, 1913 in downtown Miami. Click here to read the shocking details at Miami Archives, my blog devoted exclusively to Miami's history.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

About that full-page ad Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria ran in Sunday's Miami Herald......

Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria spent Only God Knows How Much to run an ad today in three South Florida newspapers, including the Miami Herald.

If early reaction is any indication, Loria couldn't undo the public relations nightmare he's created if he went out tomorrow and bought a brand new Hummer for every South Florida baseball fan.

Read some comments made about the ad on the NBC Sports Hardball Talk blog and the Herald's Fish Bytes blog.

Click here to enlarge.

Here's what CBS4's Jim DeFede had to say about the ad...

USA Today: Jeffrey Loria fires back at critics of Marlins makeover

Sun-Sentinel: Dave Hyde - Loria comes out swinging (and missing)

After 42 years, John Dorschner says goodbye to the Miami Herald


In a way, it's like we appeared on a TV quiz show and won a Rolls-Royce. We were ecstatic, until we discovered that the maintenance costs -- insurance, gas, repairs -- are absolutely horrendous, and that we would have been better off with a Toyota, even if we had had to pay for the Toyota ourselves.

Metrorail is almost like that. But not exactly.

Because you could always sell the Rolls.

New York's subways are dirty and dangerous. You climb out of a grimy, unair-conditioned car, walk up greasy steps, sidestepping winos, nervously looking out for any Bernhard Goetz-types, and when you get out of the station, . . . you are right in the middle of the city. Times Square. Wall Street. Central Park.

That's why people take it. It deposits them right where they want to go.

With Metrorail , the stations are magnificently designed -- red-tile floors, translucent glass blocks, gleaming stainless steel -- but most of them give the casual visitor an odd sense that he is . . . well, no place.

-John Dorschner, Tropic Magazine, September 15, 1985


What follows is an email from Miami Herald editor Amy Driscoll to the Herald newsroom:


John Dorschner
John Dorschner is retiring from the Miami Herald after 42 years.

Hard words to write. Hard words to read. We’ll miss him in the newsroom, where he has set the standard for hard work, ethics, intelligent reporting and beautiful prose for decades. Readers will miss him even more.

We know him these days as the gimlet-eyed business reporter who has applied his considerable investigative talents and apparently endless stamina to the Gordian knot known as Jackson Health System.

But that John -- the one whose dogged pursuit of healthcare facts became so annoying that a Jackson board member threatened to throw him out a window --- is a relatively recent incarnation. John is also a legend for his work at Tropic magazine, a post that offered him a front row seat to some of Miami’s most wonderful and infamous moments.

Along the way, he has written stories from Haiti and Cuba, worked as a substitute teacher so he could write about the school system from within (deciding in the end that the kids would “eat me alive”) and scored a 5 ½ hour interview with Fidel Castro.

He co-authored a Cuba history book, The Winds of December. Three of his Herald articles have appeared in college textbooks on writing. He was a Fulbright Scholar in Romania in 2001. Won two National Headliner Awards, a Green Eyeshade Award and a host of others.

Pull up virtually any story he did for Tropic and you find it, that combination of qualities uniquely suited to Miami: vivid prose, deep reporting and skewed sense of humor. “The Blob” about the suburban sprawl of Broward. “Sky’s the Limit” about then-upstart firm Arquitectonica. “Metrofail,” an instant classic in 1982 [sic] about the “conspicuous failure” of Metrorail.

But to really appreciate John’s work, you have to read him. From his Arquitectonica story:
This is architecture at freeway speed. It pops into your vision as you speed down Interstate 95 south of Miami, a highrise topped by a huge red triangle. From the north, the building is all reflective glass. Glance in your rearview mirror: From the south, it’s a massive blue grid. And – if you look closely enough – you will see a hole in the center of the structure. A hole 12 stories off the ground, containing a red spiral staircase and a fully grown palm tree.

Meet Arquitectonica, a Miami architectural firm whose work dazzles the eye and sends the mind reeling. From the freeway, you can’t even see the whirlpool nestled in the building’s hole. Never mind. This is delirium in the tropics, fun in tourist town.

“Our buildings, says Laurinda Spear, “are meant to hold your attention at 55 mph.” That’s understating it. They don’t so much “hold” you as goose you.

It’s that final bit – funny, evocative, just right – that made him a destination reporter, a byline readers sought out, then and now, with the sure knowledge of excellence. And if you’ve never read “Welcome to Casablanca,” a story he wrote that helped define the city in its disco-ball-and-cocaine days of Miami Vice, go look it up.

Here’s a taste:
You are being watched.

It happens at large airports, in places like Los Angeles and New York. Local police and federal agents are stationed there, at the Miami gate, waiting for you, watching. You are marked for their attention by the MIA ticket you hold.

The authorities don't demand that you go through customs; they don't ask for passports. They can't, because Miami is still technically part of the United States. But the agents know it isn't, not really, not like Schenectady is part of New York. There is an invisible border between Miami and the rest of the country, and these men are the border patrol.

If you fit a certain "profile," you are one of the usual suspects: Young Latin male? Definitely bears watching. And that blue-rinsed lady who walks with a cane? An innocent grandma, or a money-laundering "smurf"? You never know. Old folks make the best smurfs.

The agents are looking for money, not drugs. Greenbacks. The proceeds of dope deals. It happens all the time. Robert Targ, a Miami defense attorney who frequently travels to Los Angeles, often sees federal agents -- agents he cross-examines in court -- at the Los Angeles airport, watching the people who board the Delta red-eye special for Miami. The Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Attorney's Office acknowledge that Miami passengers are being watched, though they say it doesn't happen on every flight.

Herb Friedberg, an undercover operative for the Internal Revenue Service, tells about the time he and an IRS agent had just finished working a case in which they had seized $120,000. They were carrying the money back to Miami in an attache case. As the case moved through the X-ray machine at LaGuardia, Friedberg saw a security clerk nod to a man standing nearby, and they were asked to stand in another line. Ahead of them, police were already questioning a Colombian woman who had a satchel with $300,000 in cash and an American man who claimed he was a jeweler and was carrying $60,000 in cash to Miami to purchase some jewels.

That was one flight.

"The Casablanca of the Caribbean." That's what the world press is calling Miami.

Funny how images change.

Five years ago, Miami was "Paradise Lost," branded for all the nation to see, right there on the cover of Time Magazine. We had become the land of oppressive crime, runaway immigration, suffocating fear.

Look at us now. Awash in crime, still. Aswarm with immigrants. Aboil with fear. And we are . . . Casablanca. They call it exotic intrigue. Romance. Multicultural excitement. This town has become a movie. Or more precisely: a TV show.

John hates a fuss and, besides, there’s no note that could possibly do justice to such a career. We’ll be filling his job but that’s not a matter for this note. Let’s give him the last word - or words, because John was never known to write short -- from a bio he dashed off a year ago for a conference:

John Dorschner has been a staff writer for The Miami Herald for 41 years. Much of that time was with the Sunday magazine, Tropic, in which he led a pampered existence, spending weeks on a single story. Tropic once sent him to France to walk in the wine country for three days. When the magazine folded in 1998, he became a business writer. In 2002, he started writing about healthcare economics. Since 2009, he’s focused on the turmoil of the tax-payer financed Jackson Health System. He believes that the only reason he has kept at it for so long is that he has a screw loose.

With great affection, we wish him the best.

- Amy Driscoll and the editors

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Facebook Photo of the Day

From former Miami Herald photo editor and South Florida's Best Paparazzo of Pooches, Suzy Mast Lee...

See more of Suzy's masterful work by clicking here.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Miami Has a World-Class Baseball Stadium...So Why Does It Have a Third World Courthouse? [UPDATED x1]

A rare sight outside the Richard E. Gerstein Justice Building: a live chicken.
(Photo via the Justice Building Blog)

"'Course I'm respectable. I'm old. Politicians, ugly buildings, and whores all get respectable if they last long enough." -Noah Cross in the 1974 film, "Chinatown"


No one will dispute the fact the Richard E. Gerstein Justice Building is old. But respectable? As far as I know, no one uses the word "respectable" to describe the ugly building at 1351 NW 12th Street. Certainly not the "truth-seekers" who labor there each day.

Last year, while on jury duty, filmmaker Billy Corben had this to say about the place: "The Richard E. Gerstein Justice Bldg. in Miami-Dade County, Fla. was built 40 years ago for 8-10 judges. It now has over 45 judges and 1 working elevator." Corben was off by ten years...but you get the point.

A few weeks ago an 18 year-old woman was found in criminal contempt for extending her middle finger in the general direction of a judge during a bond hearing in one of the building's courtrooms.

Corben told me today, "If anyone has contempt for that court, it's the county or state or whoever is responsible for maintaining the building. There are a lot of people doing extremely important work in there and they should not have to work under those conditions. I'd rather serve jury duty on the Carnival Triumph."

And here's what Miami Beach criminal defense attorney Michael Grieco has to say about the REGJB: "The first rule I was taught in that building is to never touch the escalator handrails or my face," adding, "The Dade County criminal justice system outgrew the building's usefulness in the mid-90s."

Family and friends of a defendant in a criminal case wait in a sixth floor
corridor in Nov. 2011. (Photo by Al Diaz/Miami Herald)

 WPLG reporter Michael Putney told me the Justice Building is the perfect place to observe "the full spectrum of humanity...from the best to the worst."

Said Putney, "Back when my daughter was a teenager, she thought the world was a wonderful and sparkly place. One day I threatened to take her down to the courthouse on a Monday morning so she could see the petty criminals and strung-out junkies pulled in by cops over the weekend."

But while the place may be lacking in amenities, it's got tons of character and atmosphere...character and atmosphere roughly akin to that of a $49 a night Biscayne Blvd. motel room.

The wheels of justice turn slowly inside the building. Outside, enough has happened to inspire a dozen novels and screenplays. More than one chicken has given up its life on NW 12th Street in a desperate attempt to "sway the outcome" of a trial.

But, the Justice Building hasn't always been an object of scorn or the butt of jokes.

It was completed in 1962 at a cost of $8 million....about the price of a Marlins Stadium luxury suite in 2013 dollars.

Back then, as the place was getting ready to open,  Miami News editor Bill Baggs used words like "high class" and "elegant" to describe the joint:
This is obviously as high class an address as a public official could have. The walls inside the White House are not nearly as elegant, not to mention the tile work. It is a sumptuous vista, down there among the shipyards, and we should all swell with pride.
Miami News, Sept. 29, 1962.
Click here to enlarge.)
But that was then...

More than a half-century later, Michael Grieco knows exactly what's needed to fix up the place: "The Justice Building needs two things: a parking garage and a wrecking ball."

UPDATED On Feb. 22at 12:05pm:

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Miami-Dade assistant state attorney Ari Pregen fired for flashing badge at strip club

So, what's the deal with lawyers getting stupid at strip clubs?

We learn today - thanks to Frank Alvarado at Miami New Times - that an assistant state attorney at the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office has been fired for getting really stupid at a Miami strip club.
Ari Pregen in happier
Ari Pregen picked the wrong strip club to throw his weight around. On January 26, the Miami-Dade assistant state attorney gained free admission for himself and two pals into downtown Miami's Goldrush by flashing his work badge at the titty bar's executive manager Jeff Levy. A few hours later, Pregen again whipped out his law enforcement credentials so he wouldn't have to pay a 15 percent credit card surcharge on lap dances he purchased.
Pregen got belligerent with Goldrush's front door bouncers, demanding he and his crew be allowed into the club without paying the cover charge. Security called Levy, who came to the front door. He explained to Pregen that he only allowed military with a valid ID to enter the strip joint for free. "Mr. Pregen was more persistent and told me that he had not paid for admission fees for years," Levy recollected. "Mr. Pregen reached for his wallet and flashed his State Attorney's badge at me."

To avoid making a scene, Levy said he let the trio in without charging them "against my better judgement."

Around one in the morning, Pregen lost his cool when he used his credit card to pay for lap dances. He was annoyed that Goldrush -- like all strip clubs -- wanted to collect a 15 percent surcharge for swiping his plastic. Anyone familiar with titty bar etiquette understands that obtaining bands to make her dance inside the club usually comes with a Vig. That's why you stop at an ATM before you step through the front door.

Obviously, Pregen didn't get the memo. Levy alleges Pregen tried to intimidate the female employee who ran his credit card by stating "he is a state attorney and he dares her to charge him ... Mr. Pregen goes on to flash his badge again to the female employee." The assistant prosecutor also claimed it was illegal for the club to take his fingerprint because he was a state employee.
Read the entire story at Miami New Times by clicking here.

The Justice Building Blog first reported Pregen's firing last week but didn't name him. One of the blog's readers responded with this comment...
This is bs. Please do some investigation before posting such nonsense. I bet he didn't even "flash" it at all, but rather it accidentally fell out of his pocket as he was walking through the threshold of the establishment. My badge has a mind of its own whenever I get pulled over for speeding, when I purchase guns and ammo, and when I'm running late at the airport. Such clumsy things, those damn badges.
Pregen isn't the first Miami lawyer to do something stupid in a strip club.

In 1996 United States Attorney Kendall Coffey resigned his post in disgrace....something about a stripper, a strip club named Lipstik and a $900 bottle of champagne...paid for with a credit card.

And two years ago, Miami DUI attorney Mark Gold made the stupid list after allegedly racking up almost $19,000 in credit card charges at Goldrush...the same strip club where Pregen tried to throw his weight around.

Gold sued the club alleging that he was served so much alcohol that he became "temporarily unconscious, and further to the extent that he had a complete loss of judgment, rational thought, or the ability to enter into lawful contracts or agreements." Yeah...whatever.

So, here's a bit of advice for any of you Miami-Dade ASAs who still want to visit Goldrush or any of South Florida's other fine strip all means, go right ahead. But leave the plastic in your wallet and pay with cash. And if you feel like you absolutely must flash your badge...don't.

Get yourself one of these instead. I had one when I was a kid and it worked like a charm.

How to avoid making the same tragic mistake as 'Party Princess' Karlie Tomica

Click to enlarge.

What was 20 yr old Karlie Tomica thinking on the morning of January 28 when she chose to get in a car and attempt to drive from Nikki Beach on Ocean Drive to her home 5 miles away at Collins Ave. and 56th Street? All while drunk on her ass. Half-way home she struck and killed Stefano Riccioletti and then kept on driving like a bat out of hell.

It's too early to know whether or not we'll ever get a coherent and satisfactory explanation from her of her actions that day. Answers to any of those questions are just as elusive as any sign of remorse from the self-proclaimed "party princess."

For now, the only sign of regret comes from Tomica's attorney, Mark Shapiro, who issued this hollow statement last week: "Ms. Tomica and her entire family are heartbroken over this tragic accident. Their thoughts and prayers are with the Riccioletti family."

What we do know for sure is that she took the life of a loving father of two children.

In addition to to that, she destroyed her own life and that of her parents - who at this point in their lives were probably thinking of retirement. But now they're burdened with astronomical legal bills and the knowledge that their daughter may be spending a considerable amount of time in a state prison.

She also irrevocably altered the lives of anyone else touched by her incredibly selfish acts.

But all this pain could have been avoided for the price of a $20 cab ride.

Click here to enlarge. (Photo on right by Emily Michot/
Miami Herald)

EXCLUSIVE: WLRN's 3 Year Plan to 'Reinvent' Its Future

If you listen to WLRN and your idea of fun is playing the "Phil Latzman Drinking Game"*, then you're in luck.

Starting on July 1, WLRN is embarking on a three-year plan to "reinvent its future."
"Our goal is to make WLRN the round-the-clock pervasive and constant source of news and information about and of interest to South Florida."

"Our goal is to be a major-market public media news juggernaut that has no equal." - WLRN 2016: News Is Our Future

So, I wonder if a "News Juggernaut" is something like that "24/7Information Specialists" thingy the Herald's got going on?

(*Phil Latzman Drinking Game: Do a shot every time Phil Latzman utters the words "Florida Legislature.")

More details on the upcoming "News Juggernaut" in the document embedded below.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Persistent pooch tries to outsmart courthouse security

A TV videographer was on hand last Friday as a very determined dog tried to find its owner who was conducting business at the Richard E. Gerstein Justice building in Miami.


Your lunch hour time waster

1950 Chevrolet Technicolor Ad:

Featuring the University of Mia-muh in Coral Gables, Crandon Park and the old Parrot Jungle.

A Classic Don Wright cartoon from 25 years ago...

NEWS ITEM: Feb. 16, 1988 - Republican presidential contender Pat Robertson Monday stood by his assertion that Cuba has nuclear missiles pointed at the United States, but the White House denied that Soviet missiles are based in Cuba

On Capitol Hill, a Senate aide identified by Robertson as the source of his information said the Republican presidential contender apparently drew his conclusion from a speech delivered by Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C., who only speculated that missiles could be in Cuba .

Peppered Monday with questions about his assertion during a GOP debate Sunday, Robertson said he was not backing off his claim, but he acknowledged that he had no proof.

Miami News, Feb. 16, 1988. (Click to enlarge)

Monday, February 18, 2013

Your lunch hour time waster

Check out this wonderful video of a baby elephant enjoying a romp in the surf. Watch closely and you'll soon realize that animals aren't that much different from humans.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Your Random Pixels 'Miami Moment'®

This photo was posted on Facebook yesterday by a friend with the following caption:
Rude woman who held up the Publix express line for 15 minutes with her price questioning -- and then told those in line behind her to "kiss my a--" when we volunteered to pay the difference just to get the line moving.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Introducing South Florida's biggest hypocrite

Click to enlarge.

Consider these two individuals if you will:

One is a respected, hard-working political reporter who writes for the Miami Herald.

The other, is a resident of almost crime-free Pembroke Pines and a Federal Aviation Administration employee who blogs anonymously on government time. His blog is littered with the worst kind of left-wing hate speech imaginable.(Yes, liberals are capable of hate speech.) The rest of the time, this government employee/blogger visits the websites of local newspapers looking for content to steal.

The political reporter is Marc Caputo.

The blogger is someone who calls himself "Rick."

His blog is the South Florida Daily Blog. For those who don't know "Rick," he's the self-appointed gatekeeper of the South Florida blogosphere.

A few years ago "Rick" ran a widely-read blog called "Stuck on the Palmetto."

And then one day he posted a particularly homophobic comment that caught the attention of Bob Norman, who at the time worked at Broward/Palm Beach New Times:
Rick at Stuck on the Palmetto got going this morning with a rather rancid take on Michael Mayo's column in the Sun-Sentinel about the isolation of gay inmates at the Broward County Jail. His post on the column, illustrated with a bar of soap, ends thusly:

"Hey, if the guys wants to mix with general population, let them mix with general population. Better yet, before they transfer, let's give them some high heels, lipstick, pink tutus and a big, Costco-sized tub of Vaseline."

The notoriously thin-skinned "Rick" took exception to Norman's criticism and a pissing match ensued in the comments section below Norman's posts.

Pretty soon, "Rick" dropped a clue about his employer in one of his comments. Norman soon figured out what "Rick" did for a living and surmised that "Rick" was spewing a lot of his hate on government time.

So, "Rick," fearing that Norman was about to expose him, did what cowards and bullies always do when someone hits back: He shut down his blog and went into hiding.

(We all know what cockroaches do when someone turns on the lights.)

Here's what Norman wrote at the time:
A little background: Rick is/was probably the most active blogger in South Florida. He mines the newspapers and the larger Internet for his material and posts several times a day, illustrating just about every post. I'd say he averages three to four hours a day on it. Just an educated guess.

Everyone by now has gathered what line of work he's in, thanks to his bullhorning of an obscure jab that was tucked away in a comment on the Pulp. Now it's time for you to put two and two together. I've devoted half my career so far to exposing waste, corruption etc in government. So I'm not going to lie and say my eyebrows didn't raise a notch when I found out what Rick does for a living. It crossed my mind that all that Palmetto time might be better spent doing his actual job, which is not an unimportant one at all.

I barely gave it a second thought, though; this wasn't a job for Pulpman. His blog was decent and who knew how he juggled it with his job to make it happen. But when he started accusing me of bashing police and made himself out to be some avenging angel of law enforcement, it did irk me. It's the one issue Rick -- solid, middle American, mind-numbingly normal Rick -- gets totally irrational about. I knew why he was biased, but nobody else did. Basically I thought he should admit what line of work he was in, in general terms. We tussled about it a little in the past and I nudged the guy over the weekend. I thought it was harmless.
Fast forward to last Sunday.

In a post on his blog, "Rick" accused Miami Herald political writer Marc Caputo of being "Marco Rubio's wingman in Miami."

Rick ended his post with this:
Seems to me that it wouldn't take much time or effort for Didziulis or any other reporter with the time and resources to assemble a reporting portfolio that would clearly show Caputo's bias.

Which has to make one think of glass houses and stones, you know.

In a tweet last Saturday, "Rick" called Caputo, the Herald's "Republican hack."

Seriously, "Rick?" A "Republican hack?"

Here's "Republican hack" Marc Caputo, questioning Republican Rick Scott back in 2010 when Scott was running for governor. Listen closely as Caputo lobs one softball question after another at candidate Scott.

Need more proof that Caputo is a "Republican hack" and a Rubio "wingman?"

Watch this video from last October as Caputo peppers Sen. Rubio with questions about his friendship with David Rivera. At the time, Caputo wrote of the exchange: "Sen. Marco Rubio preferred to get rained on Monday than answer questions about a criminal investigation into his long-time friend and ally, Congressman David Rivera."

(Scroll down to the very bottom of this post to see more examples "Republican hack" Marc Caputo's "bias" when it comes to writing about Rubio.

And here's one of my faves. Watch as "Republican hack" Marc Caputo sends Herman Cain's handlers into panic mode in 2011 when he tries to get the Republican presidential candidate to share his thoughts on the "Cuban adjustment act" among other things.

Yesterday, I emailed Caputo the link to "Rick's" post and asked him if he'd seen it.

His response:
Judging by the appearance of the link, this is the guy who trolled me on Twitter. I blocked him. Someone gets blocked for being anonymous, false, stupid, hypocritical and a name-caller.

Interacting with people like this is like handling feces: no matter how clean you are, their stink clings to you if you deal with them.

So I haven't read the post. Nor will I. When I first got trolled a few weeks ago, I quickly scanned over the blog (which has about 200 readers). I saw what he's up to. He wants to drive traffic by making inflammatory remarks because he can't produce good content with original reporting.
In his post, "Rick" called Caputo "thin-skinned" for blocking him on Twitter.

A few years ago I had a little fun at "Rick's" expense after he wrote a post about a paintball attack on his car. Rather than leave a comment on my post, "Rick" sent me a whiny email asking "why don't you like me?" and "what it is I've ever done to deserve whole posts dedicated to making me look like an ass?" Remember, this comes from a guy who called Caputo, "thin-skinned"

So, "Rick"'s some free advice. The next time you feel the need to call someone a "hack", you might want to do some basic research so that you get your facts straight and don't end up making a complete ass of yourself.

More advice: If  you're accusing someone of being thin-skinned, hypocritical and a "hack," you might want to make sure that, #1, you're not thin-skinned yourself, #2, you're not a hypocrite, and #3, you're not a "hack."

Ditto for impugning someone's ethics.

From where I sit, Rick, you're batting zero.

Now, go get your f**king shine box.


Published in the St. Petersburg Times, March 9, 2010: Rubio's campaign image belies history of $250 million in pork requests.

Rubio speaks out on turnpike deal 

Monday, April 7, 2008
by MARC CAPUTO, Herald staff writer

House Speaker Marco Rubio said Monday he used obscure budget language that helped a friend and blocked a $265 million turnpike deal due to concerns over the Department of Transportation's potentially "cozy" ties to "monopolistic" contractors. 


Here's part of a 2009 Caputo story on Rubio, who after he left the speakership, got nice "consulting" contracts from two hospitals he steered money to. (Jackson and Miami Children's).

Lawmaker joins 2 others in web of lobbying ties

A state legislator, his wife and a former House speaker are all linked to hospital lobbying and consulting in two deals that are raising eyebrows. 

Monday, February 9, 2009 

by MARC CAPUTO, Herald staff writer

In a legislature where public votes and private profit can collide, one alliance stands out: the trio of Rep. Esteban "Steve" Bovo, his wife and former House Speaker Marco Rubio .

Bovo, a freshman Republican from Hialeah, is the in-house lobbyist for Miami Children's Hospital. He sits on a House budget committee that helps decide how much state money hospitals and healthcare providers in the state receive.

As Bovo was taking office in November, Rubio was leaving, due to term limits. Rubio took his top assistant -- Viviana Bovo, Bovo's wife -- with him to work at a new consulting -lobbying firm, Florida Strategic Consultants.

The company in December then scored two contracts worth $102,000 and $96,000 with Miami Children's and Jackson Memorial hospitals, respectively.


And here's another Caputo puff-piece on Rubio from 2003 ...


Tuesday, October 28, 2003
by MARC CAPUTO, Herald staff writer

A handful of South Florida legislators missed what was hyped as one of the most important votes in state history last week as they watched the World Series live Thursday from the comfort of the Florida Marlins invitation-only owners' box.

The absence of the lawmakers went largely unnoticed until late Thursday night, when votes became critical as political trouble bedeviled one of the bills to create a South Florida branch of the Scripps Research Institute with $310 million from taxpayers.

Most prominent among those missing: Rep. Marco Rubio, the Coral Gables leader of the House Republicans, whose absence comes as he is courting the votes of fellow Republicans in his bid to become speaker in 2006. Also missing was Rep. Gaston Cantens, a one-time speaker candidate and current majority whip, whose duties include orchestrating floor votes.

Friday, February 15, 2013

The story the Miami Herald won't print

Here's an interesting story by CNNMoney writer Jose Pagliery on the "two versions" of Micky Arison. And it's one you probably won't be seeing anytime soon in the pages of the Miami Herald.
There are two versions of Micky Arison.

One is the billionaire deeply involved in the success of his professional basketball team, the Miami Heat. That Arison is close with the players, attends nearly every home game and talks often about the team on Twitter.

The other is the CEO of cruise company Carnival (CCL) -- he remains largely silent during company disasters.

It happened in 2010, when an engine fire knocked a cruise ship offline and forced nearly 4,500 to spend three days stranded in the Pacific. It happened last year during the Costa Concordia shipwreck, which killed 32 off the coast of Italy.

And it's happening again.
The reason you won't see this story in the Herald? What? And risk pissing-off one of Miami's most powerful men? Are you serious?

Click here to read the entire story at


Is Carnival's Micky Arison a Greedy Corporate Pig?

Gov. Rick Scott in "Attack of the Happy Feet"

Just when you thought Gov. Rick Scott couldn't get any creepier, he goes and does this in front of impressionable school children!

Video by Miami Herald reporter David Smiley.

What??...wait! Let's see that again!

GIF by Huffington Post.

gov. rick scott dances, rick scott dances school, miami beach

Disturbing new details emerge in case of So Be 'Party Princess,' Karlie Tomica

Karlie Tomica in court Friday with attorney
Mark Shapiro, right.

Karlie Tomica, the self-described South Beach 'party princess' who has been charged in the violent hit-and-run death of a hotel executive chef last month, was in court this morning with her attorney, Mark Shapiro.

Click to enlarge.

The Miami Herald's David Ovalle reports that, "prosecutors...formally charged a 20-year South Beach bartender with DUI manslaughter in the hit-and-run death of hotel executive chef [Stefano Riccioletti."]
Circuit Judge Migna Sanchez-Llorens, citing the extraordinary facts and Tomica’s alleged underage drinking, raised her bail to $77,000. Tomica was re-booked into jail, and will likely be released later Friday.
The impact was so violent that her car was severely damaged, covered in skull fragments and brain matter, prosecutor Warren Eth told the judge Friday. A nearby street barricade “was painted in blood,” he said.

Tomica refused to stop, instead driving several miles to her 17th-floor condo even as a good Samaritan followed and tried to get her to stop. Police arrested her at the condo.

She refused to take a breathalyzer test at the scene, Eth said, and she later fell asleep on a chair at the Miami Beach police station, snoring loudly. In her purse, detectives found another woman’s drivers license they believe Tomica used to buy liquor.
Read Ovalle's full story by clicking here.

Your lunch hour time waster

Chatty Canadian news anchor shares an innocent enough story of dealing with her toddler's teething pain. But it's not long before the story becomes R-rated.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Stephen Colbert shows Marco Rubio how to stay properly hydrated

"Don't worry, Senator Rubio, no one noticed — that you gave a speech."

What if Miami had a real, New York-style tabloid newspaper?

A newspaper run by editors with cojones and who weren't afraid to take shots at those in Miami who deserve it.

A newspaper run by editors with no fear of offending Miami's elite, ruling class.

But most of all, a newspaper with headlines and stories that, in the words of Edna Buchanan, "might cause a reader who is having breakfast with his wife to "spit out his coffee, clutch his chest, and say, 'My God, Martha! Did you read this!'"

Miami needs a paper like that this week.

In a bizarre sidebar to the story of the disabled Carnival Cruise ship, Triumph, an Alabama newspaper reported Wednesday that "Carnival Cruise CEO [Micky Arison was] spotted Tuesday watching a Miami Heat game.

The UK's Mail Online posted a headline that was a little more direct: "Boss of Carnival cruise ship adds insult to misery by going to basketball game as 4,000 suffer aboard 'stinking stricken ship' with urine-soaked carpets and sewage in cabins."

But, as you might expect, the spineless, candy-ass editors at the Miami Herald have have kept news of the Triumph fire and its aftermath off the front pages of the paper.

A strange, inexplicable editorial decision considering that Miami-based Carnival is "the largest, most successful cruise operator in the world."

Or, maybe not so strange when you consider that Carnival buys advertising in the Herald.

That might also explain why there was no mention in the Herald of Arison's insensitive decision to attend Tuesday's Heat game as thousands of his customers suffered on a filthy, stinking ship.

But, imagine for just a minute, that a ballsy, take-no-prisoners, New York-style tabloid editor was running things at the Herald.

Here's how the paper's front page might have looked today.....

Click here to enlarge image.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Will someone at Local 10 please buy Laurie Jennings a Thesaurus?

Although I have no proof, I'm reasonably certain that somewhere in South Florida, small groups of friends gather weekday nights between 5 and 6:30pm to play a drinking game during Local 10's evening newscast.

Object of the game: Down a shot every time anchor Laurie Jennings uses the word "amazing."

It can be a dangerous game.

Laurie uses the word frequently.

This week, on the same day Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation, a photographer captured a shot of a lightning bolt striking St. Peter's basilica in Rome. Local 10 showed the photo on its 6pm image that Laurie called, "amazing."

During a segment on tonight's newscast discussing Sen. Marco Rubio's speech last night, Laurie used the word "amazing" to describe the senator's mid-speech water gulp, 

And here's a video clip from last year of Laurie using her favorite word - twice in the space of 8 seconds.

Even though Laurie's in the news business, she apparently doesn't bother to read any actual "news" that's not on a studio Teleprompter.  That includes this 2012 story that reported on an annual survey that ranked "amazing" as the year's most overused word.
A correspondent from British Columbia agreed, saying that "the word which once aptly described the process of birth is now used to describe such trivial things as toast, or the color of a shirt".
So, here's my offer to anyone at Local 10: Buy a Thesaurus and give it to Laurie. Take a photo of her holding it, send it to me and I'll buy you dinner!

And, if you're reading this Laurie, why not click on this link and see what other words you can substitute for the word "amazing?"

You'll be amazed at how many there are!

Marco Rubio: 'Stay thirsty, America'

CORAL GABLES, Fla. — As a teenager in the late 1980s, Marco Rubio's favorite place to get drunk with his high school buddies was the golf course surrounding the Biltmore Hotel, a towering Mediterranean-style structure at the center of town.
Twenty-five years later, Rubio still has a drinking problem.

Wait! Can we see that again?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Karlie Tomica was 'legally drunk' when she struck and killed Stefano Riccioletti in South Beach

Click image to enlarge.

Via Huffington Post:
MIAMI BEACH -- She was as drunk as a witness described.

Blood alcohol test results shows Nikki Beach bartender Karlie Tomica was three times over the limit when she plowed into Shore Club executive chef Stefano Riccioletti and kept driving.

Miami Beach Police told The Huffington Post the 20-year-old self-proclaimed "party princess" will now appear in court Friday to be charged with DUI manslaughter.

Riccioletti, a father of three, died at the scene in the wee hours of January 28 on Collins Avenue near 18th Street. His son Jacopo sued both Tomica and the nightclub last Thursday, alleging Nikki Beach operators allowed Tomica to consume alcohol underage and on the job before driving home drunk.
[Nikki Beach] is named for the daughter of the owner, who was killed by a drunk driver just weeks before her high school graduation.

Feb. 8: 'Party princess' Karlie Tomica retains high-profile defense attorney; family of hit & run victim files suit against her and Nikki Beach

Friday, February 08, 2013

'Party princess' Karlie Tomica retains high-profile defense attorney; family of hit & run victim files suit against her and Nikki Beach

John Goodman (left) and attorneys - Mark Shapiro, Guy Fronstin, and Roy Black -
react as a guilty verdict is announced in Goodman's DUI manslaughter trial,
March 23, 2012. Click image to enlarge. (Palm Beach Post photo.)

"Party princess" Karlie Tomica, the Nikki Beach bartender charged in the hit and run death last month of a South Beach executive chef, has retained attorney Mark Shapiro, a partner in famed defense attorney Roy Black's law firm, Black, Srebnick, Kornspan & Stumpf, P.A.

An entry on the website of the Miami-Dade Clerk of the Court lists Shapiro as Tomica's attorney.

Shapiro's bio on his firm's website says he joined Black's firm "after nearly a decade of high-level trial work and criminal investigations as a prosecutor with the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office."

Shapiro most recently assisted Black on the high-profile DUI manslaughter case of Palm Beach polo mogul, John Goodman.

Shapiro and Black lost that case.

Meanwhile, in other news related to Tomica's case, the first lawsuit tied to the hit and run death of chef Stefano Riccioletti has been filed.

Via the Huffington Post:
The son of the well-known chef killed in a South Beach hit-and-run has filed a lawsuit against the driver and her employer, nightclub Nikki Beach, as first reported by NBC6.

Though blood alcohol test reports are pending, a witness to the crash said bartenders 20-year-old Karlie Tomica, was "really drunk" when she plowed into the Shore Club's executive chef Stefano Riccioletti on Collins Avenue in the early morning hours of January 28. The witness followed Tomica to her home, where he said she could barely stand.
Tomica was "served and consumed alcohol at the club, with the club's knowledge and authority that she was underage the lawful drinking age," reads the complaint, embedded below. It states the club "knew or should have known that she was going to drive. It was foreseeable to the club that she posed a dangerous risk of injury or death to other motorists and/or pedestrians."
One section of the suit alleges that Nikki Beach's bartenders and servers are encouraged to consume alcohol with customers.

"The purpose of this practice," the suit says, "is to encourage liquor sales and to be-friend patrons and ensure they will return to the club."

Your lunch hour time waster

Do you remember Anastasia? She's the hyper Jack Russell terrier that picked this year's Super Bowl winner by popping balloons on the Jay Leno show last week.

Well, I've uncovered evidence that Anastasia may not, in fact, be a dog.

After watching this video it appears she's actually a coiled spring with four legs and a tail who's on a mission to destroy every party balloon in the world.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Canadian sisters who (falsely) claimed cops roughed them up last year, appear in court today

Canadians Angelina (left) and Michele Mastrangelo allege they were roughed
up after they were arrested by Miami Beach Police just before Christmas last year.
However, when asked to back up their allegations with
a sworn statement,
the pair refused. (Toronto Star)

In a post on the Miami New Times blog Riptide last month, staff writer Frank Alvarado cut right to the chase in his story about two Canadian sisters who claimed they were "roughed up" by two Miami Beach Police officers a few days before Christmas 2012.
During the darkest months of winter, half of Canada flees to South Florida. So you'd think police would have some respect for the maple-syrup-guzzling visitors who fuel the local economy through spring break.

That's not what one pair of sisters from Toronto found in Miami Beach last month. The women say two Beach cops assaulted them while hurling insults such as "bitches," "sluts," and "dirty Canadians."

Not very neighborly, eh?

Miami Beach Police officers Eduard Alba and William Beeker allegedly gave Canadian tourists Angelina and Michele Mastrangelo a nightmare before Christmas they will never forget.
Alvarado wrote that cops arrested the sisters on Dec. 23rd "for allegedly acting belligerent and refusing their commands to leave the Ritz-Carlton at 17th Street and Lincoln Road."

Angelina was charged with resisting arrest without violence and sister Michele was charged with disorderly intoxication, resisting arrest without violence and criminal mischief.

The pair made bond after spending about 11 hours in jail and then returned to Canada.

Once back in Canada, they reached out to Alvarado by email.

In his Jan. 7 story, Alvarado listed some of the sisters' allegations against the cops:

  • "Those officers are disgusting. They completely ruined our trip."

  • Angelina claimed one cop told her to "sit the f*ck down bitch."

  • Michele told Alvarado that one cop "Grabbed my sister by one arm and yanked her up...He dragged her to his cop car, threw her against the car and told her, 'you are in my playground now bitch.'"

  • Michele told Alvarado, "Alba called her sister 'Miss Piggy' and 'fat bitch' when she told him her weight. Alba also called us sluts, cunts, and dirty Canadians. He told the other male cops not to talk to us because they would get HIV."
  • According to Alvarado, the sisters "filed a complaint at the police station against Alba and Beeker."

    But according to Miami Beach Police spokesperson Bobby Hernandez, "When it came time for [Angelina and Michele] to give a formal, sworn statement, they refused."

    Sharon Carpenter, the sisters' mother told New Times,
    My daughter Michele has been waking up every night crying her eyes out. Angelina cries every time she talks about it, which is why she has Michele tell most of the story. This has traumatized them forever. I'm never ever in my life going back to Miami.
    So, how traumatized were the sisters by their experience at the hands of the cops?

    Here they are at the Miami Beach police station on the night of their arrest...dancing in the booking area. (starts @ 0:20 on the video)

    In the video below, one of the sisters "urinates on a chair and then begins to contaminate the rest of our holding facility by wiggling on the other chairs and the floor," according to a police spokesperson.

    The pair were back in a Miami Beach courtroom today to answer to the charges.

    According to court records, they opted to enter a pre-trial diversion program in exchange for having the charges against them dropped. The Toronto Star reports that the sisters also agreed to perform 25 hours each of community service.

    Wednesday, February 06, 2013

    Judge gives bird-flipping defendant 30 days in jail: The rest of the story [UPDATED x1]

    UPDATED 1x below.

    You don't have to travel very far in South Florida to find someone like Penelope Soto. She's the 18 year-old girl who flipped-off a Miami judge this week during an appearance in bond court. The judge, Jorge Rodriguez-Chomat, gave her 30 days in jail.

    South Beach is full of Penelope Sotos. As a Miami Beach cop I know has told me on more than one occasion, "If rude behavior ever becomes illegal, South Beach will be the world's largest penal colony."

    Enter the Miami Herald's Morals Watchdog, columnist Fabiola Santiago.

    In a column in today's paper, Fabi calls Soto a "disrespectful, dismissive brat" and "a poster child of a flaky celebrity-worshiping generation."

    And Judge Rodriguez-Chomat? “Such a gentleman,” an unnamed "court insider" told Fabi.

    Well, that settles that! Kind, sweet, grandfatherly, "gentleman" judge - a model of judicial restraint -  metes out justice to snotty "brat." We know it's true because Fabi said so. Case closed.

    Not quite.

    In Aug. 1998, the Miami Herald reported:
    State Rep. Jorge Rodriguez-Chomat , R-West Dade, is betting voters will overlook his reputation for having a short fuse and a sharp tongue and return him to Tallahassee for a third term representing District 114.
    In February [1998] when Florida International University professor Dario Moreno described Miami on national television as "almost the definition of a Third World Banana Republic," Rodriguez-Chomat retaliated by threatening FIU President Mitch Maidique to hurt the university when funding issues came up in Tallahassee if Maidique didn't take a stand against Moreno. Maidique refused and Rodriguez-Chomat was forced to apologize and retract his statement."

    In a 2010 Dade County Bar Association judicial poll, Rodriguez-Chomat "was rated unqualified by more than 46 percent of respondents," according to Jose Pagliery, then a Daily Business Review staff writer. Fabi conveniently ignored those juicy tidbits when when crafting her column.

    But wait, there's more!

    As is sometimes the case, the comments left by readers at the bottom of Herald stories are more informative and balanced than the stories themselves. This is one of those occasions.

    Someone who calls himself "skepticinMD," left this comment after reading Fabi's column:
    I saw the video and while it is clear the girl is not exactly the model of decorum, it also seems to me the judge was on a bit of a power trip. After setting her bail, he shows a lack of decorum with his dismissive "bye-bye," to which she respectfully replied in the native tongue of much of So. Florida (and evidently, both she and the judge,) "Adios" -- which is much more respectful than the judge's high and mighty "bye-bye." Sure the girl is a bit of a dope, but she also appears to be a druggie -- heavy volumes of Xanax are usually reserved for people with major panic disorders. The doses can make people excessively talkative (like she was) and irritable/impulsive -- especially upon withdrawal.

    But that's still no reason for the judge being a thin-skinned bully. But there's a pattern here. When the judge was the [Florida] State Legislature, there's a famous picture of him mixing it up on the floor with another lawmaker when the judge thought the other lawmaker got personal.

    It is easy to see this in black and white -- a disrespectful party girl who is used to flirting her way through life, getting her comeuppance. But this bully in a black robe is hardly the model of humanity who should be delivering society's disapprobation. His snickering mockery is simply the flip side of the girl's callow disrespect. The thing is, the judge should know better -- but bullies rarely do. They just seek out more powerful positions. As a judge, his ability to [exert] power over a pretty but bubble-headed party-girl seems, [to Santiago], to be a virtue. When he was on the floor of the legislature engaging in fisticuffs, the other party had the ability to hit back. We should expect better from our robed jurists!

    UPDATE:  From the St. Petersburg Times, April 10, 1998:
    [Carlos] Valdes said [Jorge] Rodriguez-Chomat had walked over to him and repeatedly called him a jackass.

    "By the third or fourth time (he said it), I just said, "You must be looking at yourself in the mirror,' " Valdes recounted. "He grabbed my tie, and I was just trying to keep him away." He said Rodriguez-Chomat also tried to punch him.

    TALLAHASSEE, FL. 4/9/98-Reps. Jorge Rodriguez-Chomat, R-Miami, left, and Carlos Valdes, R-Miami, scuffle on the floor of the House of Representatives as Rep. Bruno Barreiro, R-Miami Beach, right, tries to intervene Thursday at the Capitol in Tallahassee. Earlier during debate over the School Readiness Voucher Program bill Valdes pointed out that Rodriguez-Chomat's children attend a private school. Rodriguez-Chomat took exception to the comments and said he felt the statements overly personalized the debate. Photograph by COLIN HACKLEY