Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Ethics complaint filed over Broward Sheriff Scott Israel's yacht cruise

Local 10's Bob Norman reported tonight that "a former Broward Sheriff's Office commander filed an ethics complaint against Broward Sheriff Scott Israel over a five-day cruise to the Bahamas aboard a campaign donor's $35 million yacht."
Israel paid a total of $1,500, or $300 for each member of his family, for five-days on the yacht that rents for $190,000 a week with campaign donor Robert Pereira. He said Broward Sheriff's Office lawyers told him state law only required him to pay the equivalent of an inexpensive cruise, which he did.

Israel didn't disclose the trip to the public.
But, it appears that Israel isn't too concerned about the complaint. Or if he is, he's not showing it.

At least that's the sense I get after seeing a flyer that's been circulating at BSO headquarters in recent days.

C'mon, Scotty. Do you really think this is a good idea right now? Haven't you learned your lesson?

Click here to enlarge.

Your lunch hour time waster

Jumpy is one smart dog!

Today's classic Don Wright cartoons

These classic cartoons by Don Wright ran 30 years ago this week in the Miami News.

Miami News, Aug. 1, 1983.
(Click images to enlarge.)

Miami News, Aug. 2, 1983.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Vicious Beatdown at Dirty Blondes in Fort Lauderdale caught on video

Arnald Thomas-Darrah
UPDATED @ 11:45am, Sunday, Aug. 4 - via the Sun-Sentinel:
A pair of bouncers caught on a cell phone video pummeling two customers at Dirty Blondes Sports Bar last week have been charged with battery after a 15-second clip of the beatdown went viral on social media.

Arnald Thomas-Darrah, 30, a resident of Oakland Park, has been charged with aggravated battery, Fort Lauderdale police said Sunday.

A second bouncer involved in the July 28 incident, Jovan Ralfhel Dean, 35, is facing misdemeanor battery charges that will be filed by the Broward State Attorney's Office, according to Fort Lauderdale police.


Their t-shirts say "Security," but they're no more than low-life, ghetto thugs.

A brawl that involved bouncers from the Fort Lauderdale Beach bar Dirty Blondes and patrons rocked the busiest stretch of the beach Sunday afternoon.

The man who gets pounded, and even stomped on, in the video below was identified as Alexander Coelho, 29, of Fort Lauderdale.

Believe it or not, he’s the one who was arrested, and charged with battery and disorderly conduct.

How did all this happen?

Broward/Palm Beach New Times posted a Facebook comment from Mary Ann Crespo, who New Times says is "a friend of the patrons involved in the confrontation."
This is a video of my friend Stephanie & her boyfriend, Alex. They were at Blondies yesterday, got a drink they didn't like, asked for a new one (offering to pay for both) & then got verbally attacked by the bartender. When they asked the security guys at the door for the manager, this is what happened! I hope they sue Blondies and the employees get arrested! If I lived in Florida, Blondies would never get a penny from me ever again! This is horrible & disgusting. Please help them & share this video. It could've happened to anyone of you out for your Sunday Funday.

So, who owns this dump?

Public records show that Dirty Blondes is owned by Lior Avidor and Aiton J. Yaari.

Last January, the Sun-Sentinel reported that Ft. Lauderdale city commissioners were considering "proposals to allow State Road A1A hotels and restaurants to offer food and beverage service on the beach in front of their establishments — and to allow beachgoers to bring their own drinks."

One of those quoted in the story was Dirty Blondes owner, Aiton Yaari:
"Fort Lauderdale beach is a world-class destination," said Aiton Yaari, a member of the beach business district committee recommending the hotel and restaurant service to commissioners. "We want to be something special. We want to be like Saint-Tropez."

Yeah, judging from that video and others on the Internet, I'd say Dirty Blondes is really "something special." And definitely "world class."

Meanwhile, a "Boycott Dirty Blondes" Facebook page has been created. As of this writing, the page has over 3,300 "likes."


Fort Lauderdale Collective: Fort Lauderdale Beach Violence Caught on Tape at Blondies

Your lunch hour time waster

"Dog Beach" by ponypix2021

Monday, July 29, 2013

For Just $2500, You Can Co-host South Florida's Worst TV Show

Click to
If you've really been hating yourself lately but can't seem to come up with a suitable form of self-abuse....I think I may have what you're looking for!

The marketing geniuses at Groupon have come up with something they're calling the "Celebrity Epic Deal Series in Miami."

Here's how it works: For only $2,500, you get to hang out for an entire day with someone called Roxanne Vargas, who hosts the show, "6 In The Mix," which just may be South Florida's worst TV show, ever!

If you've never heard of Vargas, Miami New Times once described her schtick this way: "She elicits unexpected responses and humanity from guests who thought they were going on television simply to spend a couple of minutes talking about what swimsuit is best for your butt."

Anyway, for $2,500, here's what you get:
Co-Anchor NBC South Florida’s Six in the Mix TV Show! Co-host an episode with Roxanne Vargas on NBC’s entertainment show Six in the Mix. In addition to a co-anchor spot, the purchaser of this Epic Deal will also pre-tape a three-minute segment as a guest reporter, aired during the same episode. Work with Vargas for a day as she shows you the ropes behind the scenes, including full prep from her broadcast team and style savvy hair and makeup professionals. Two Epic Deals available beginning July 29th for a purchase price of $2,500.
Well, what are you waiting engraved invitation?

The clock is ticking on this deal!

The best two sentences you'll read today...

In his latest blog post for, Tampa Bay Times reporter Craig Pittman begins an essay on "What’s it like to grow up in Florida" with these two sentences:

My wife and I were talking to the kids the other day about what it was like growing up in Florida way back in the longtimeago compared to what it's like for them now, and I said, "I remember back when there was no Disney World."

I have now seen what it looks like when a child's mind is blown.

Click here to read Pittman's entire post.

Your lunch hour time waster

Meet Einstein, the Knoxville Zoo's feathered superstar.

"The defendant pulled out his wallet...flashed his gold badge at me and stated, 'We work on the same side' "

Earlier this year, Miami-Dade assistant state attorney Ari Pregen was fired for flashing his badge at a gentlemen's club.

You'd think after an embarrassing incident like that, Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle would have, 1) Sent out a memo to all ASAs asking them to please leave their badges at home if they plan to go out and get sh*t-faced, 2) Taken away all badges from snot-nosed, twenty-something ASAs who have no need for a badge in the first place, or 3) All of the above.

Yeah, well...guess again, Pedro. If she did send out that memo, it apparently wasn't read by all in her office.

Adam Finkel
Over the weekend, Adam Cory Finkel, a 26 year-old, hotshot Miami-Dade assistant state attorney went and got himself arrested at the Purdy Lounge in Miami Beach.

In his report, the arresting officer writes that Finkel got into a "verbal altercation" with a doorman after being told that he had to wait in line. Oh, the humanity!

After taking an "aggressive fighting stance" against the doorman, the arresting officer writes that he escorted Finkel outside. When the officer told Finkel to leave, "The defendant pulled out his wallet...flashed his gold badge at me and stated, 'We work on the same side'"

After that, things deteriorated quickly. (See arrest form embedded below.)

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Q: What happens when you turn over a rock in Broward County? A: Scott Israel and his supporters slither out.

Click here to enlarge.

UPDATED Monday, July 29 @ 3:00pm: Sun-Sentinel - BSO deputies are reminded not to take gifts.

UPDATED Sunday, July 28 @ 6:30pm: Sheriff Scott Israel appeared on Michael Putney's show today. Click here to see the complete interview.


Recognize these names? Ken Jenne, John Timoney, Carlos Noriega, Donald Warshaw, Cheryl Cason and Tom Hunker.

If you follow the news closely, then you know that all of those people, at one time or another, were in charge of various South Florida police departments.

And all were ethically challenged. And a few were just downright corrupt.

  • Ken Jenne, was Broward County's top cop from 1998 until 2007. In September 2007 he agreed to plead guilty to tax evasion and mail fraud charges.  Jenne got a year in the federal pen.

  • Miami Police Chief John Timoney got in trouble after it was learned that he drove a brand-new Lexus SUV for more than a year "without paying the car dealership a penny."

  • Carlos Noriega was Miami Beach's police chief from 2007 until 2011. During his tenure, he grappled with one scandal after another, including drunken cops joyriding in police ATVs on the beach and a  deadly 2011 Memorial Day shooting.  Towards the end of his term as police chief, Noriega was also dogged with questions over his decision to give official-looking police badges to a select group of friends.

  • Donald Warshaw, who was Miami's police chief before becoming city manager, was indicted in September of 2000 on charges of conspiracy to commit fraud and mail fraud. In 2001 he was sentenced to a year in prison.

  • Cheryl Cason was the police chief of the tiny, crime-ridden town of Opa-Locka until her retirement this year. Hired in 1984, Cason had two failed drug tests and more than 22 disciplinary charges before becoming chief.

  • Tom Hunker, until he was fired last March, was police chief of the tiny Village of Bal Harbour. Hunker, a retired Miami Beach narcotics detective, became enmeshed in scandal after questions were raised over his department's handling and spending of millions of dollars in cash seized from drug dealers.
  • Now, it might be time to add another name to that list.

    Last January, Scott Israel, the former police chief of North Bay Village, became the latest law enforcement professional to head the Broward Sheriff's Office, the largest, fully accredited sheriff's department in the country.

    A little more than a week after taking office - and even before he'd learned the location of all the elevators at BSO headquarters - Israel raised more than a few eyebrows when he invited Ken Jenne, the disgraced former Broward sheriff and convicted felon, to visit him in "the $1.6 million office space Jenne used public funds to redecorate."

    And while Jenne's visit to BSO wasn't a secret, something Israel did in secret shortly before his swearing-in is now the focus of some scrutiny.

    Early last week Local 10's Bob Norman reported that Israel took "a five-day luxury cruise to the Bahamas on a $35 million super-yacht ... paid for by the sheriff’s largest campaign donor, construction magnate Robert Pereira."

    Norman reports Israel reimbursed Pereira for the trip with a check for $1500.

    video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

    Israel claims he did nothing wrong by accepting the yacht trip; but his reaction to Norman's straightforward questions about the trip say otherwise. Any reporter who's ever cornered a corrupt politician will attest to that.

    Norman also reports that shortly after Israel refused to answer his questions, he called Local 10 to say he'd never talk to Norman again. Again, the reaction of a public official with something to hide.

    A few days after Norman's first report, Israel went on a local radio show to defend himself. But not just any radio show.

    Israel went on the Rich Stevens Show on WFTL-AM. In a video that looks like it was shot by a five year-old, Israel described Stevens as "the consummate professional."

    And, while all this was going on, something very bizarre happened. A website called the "Broward Bugle" sent out this tweet:

    So what is a Broward Bugle, you ask, and why are they calling on BSO deputies to "detain" and "taser" Bob Norman?

    Last May, Broward Bulldog executive editor Dan Christensen wrote this of the "Bugle" and its backers:
    The registered owner of an online Broward “news” operation contributed over $120,000 to a political group that made payments to a firm owned by Sheriff Scott Israel’s campaign manager, Amy Rose, and to her husband.

    Andrew James Miller, 29, gave the money to Taxpayers for Integrity in Government last August, amid Israel’s successful bid to unseat then-Sheriff Al Lamberti, election records show.

    Miller is a protégé of flamboyant South Florida-based political consultant and prospective gubernatorial candidate, Roger Stone. Miller describes himself on his Twitter page as a “political pirate, provocateur, street fighter.”


    The secretive Bugle does not identify its publisher or staffers by their real names. Its Hollywood attorney, Holiday Hunt Russell, would not answer questions about his client. Stone, an Israel supporter with a reputation as a political dirty trickster, has been rumored for months to be behind it because of stories with headlines like last month’s “Lamberti has Chutzpah.”


    “I’m nervous talking about this. I don’t want to say something wrong,” said Miller when asked about the Bugle. “I’m not the one running it. I know who is, but I’m not at liberty to give any names. It’s above my pay grade.”

    Said Stone, “I’m not going to talk about the Bugle, I’m really not."

    Scott Israel, Broward's top cop, apparently has no problem rolling out the red carpet for a convicted felon or accepting a trip on a multi-million dollar yacht from a billionaire who just wants to be the sheriff's "friend." A "friend," who according to Israel, wants nothing in return. All of this while Israel seemingly gives tacit approval to a shady website that exists for no other reason than to attack Israel's critics.

    The sheriff, it appears, has forgotten two adages, "You are judged by the company you keep,"  and "Appearances are everything."

    When Scott Israel's term as Broward sheriff ends, he may looked upon as the most ethical person to ever hold that office.

    But until that happens, if I were a Broward County taxpayer, I'd be nervous about Scott Israel.

    Very nervous.


    Sun-Sentinel: Sheriff: Yacht trip with campaign supporter broke no laws

    Local 10: Sheriff Scott Israel makes new hires to 'connect with community'

    Saturday, July 27, 2013

    The way we were...Kim Bokamper is all wet - 1983

    30 years ago today...July 27, 1983: Dolphins defensive end Kim Bokamper cools off at training camp.

    Miami News, July 27, 1883.

    Friday, July 26, 2013

    Old Miami Herald building is on fire!!

    Photo by Natalie Leon / @ifollownat
    (Click here to enlarge.)

    Photograph by Beth Walsh via @billycorben
    (Click here to enlarge.)

    The old Miami Herald building is on fire, but not really.

    The Herald's Doug Hanks reports: "Burn Notice, the USA spy series filming its final season, took over the abandoned Herald headquarters this week. On Friday, black smoke began billowing out of the building’s western wall facing 14th Street, and pictures of the action promptly began popping up on Twitter."

    Now, you can believe Doug Hanks if you want.

    But I'm going with this explanation from filmmaker Billy Corben.

    Fidel Castro in 1959 - The Lost Interview

    "And if this Revolution falls, what we will have here in Cuba is a hell. Hell itself. Because by the time there will be a million, a million and a half people with no work, people who will not believe in anybody anymore, then it will be a chaos. Trust me, gentleman." -Fidel Castro in 1959.  -Via

    Click here for transcripts of the entire interview with Castro in both English and Spanish.

    Coming Sunday: A Sarasota Herald-Tribune investigation into failed Florida banks

    Coming Sunday: Some great reporting from the investigative unit at the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

    Breaking The Banks, A Herald-Tribune investigation

    The Herald-Tribune obtained previously confidential state records to learn why 68 banks failed in Florida in the last five years.

    Those records show that failed bankers broke the law, manipulated documents, enriched themselves and their friends - and got away with it.

    Sunday: Failure in Florida

    Monday: An acute offender

    Tuesday: Nepotism and insider dealing

    Wednesday: When regulators fail to do their job

    The Herald-Tribune is the same paper that in Dec. 2011, reported on Florida's dirtiest cop, Opa-Locka police Sgt. German Bosque.

    The report on Bosque by Herald-Tribune reporters Anthony Cormier and Matthew Doig started a chain of events that led to Bosque's eventual downfall.

    Last June Bosque was arrested and charged with kidnapping "a man who wanted to file a police brutality complaint against him."


    From Dec. 2011: Unfit for Duty - A Herald-Tribune Investigation.

    The way we were...July 26, 1973

    40 years ago today: President Nixon refuses to turn over secretly-recorded White House tapes to the Senate Watergate Committee.

    Cartoon by Don Wright.
    Miami News
    , July 26. 1973.

    Wednesday, July 24, 2013

    A classic Don Wright cartoon from July 24, 1963

    In the summer of 1963, the Golden Glades interchange was under construction and detours were causing mammoth traffic jams that engineers predicted would last for months.

    Here's how Miami News cartoonist Don Wright depicted the problem in a cartoon that appeared 50 years ago today.

    Miami News, July 24, 1963.

    Your lunch hour time waster

    Think your commute sucks?

    Check out the morning rush hour in Beijing.

    Fabi Watch

    Fabiola Santiago, the Miami Herald's most thought-provoking columnist, is now writing her own headlines.

    That's the only explanation I can come up with for this: "DCF badly failed 5 kids who died."

    But wait, it gets better!

    Fabi offers further proof that no issue is too complex for her to tackle, ending today's column with this bromide: "It’s time for the highest authorities in the state to step in, investigate and substantially change the modus operandi of the agency charged with protecting the most vulnerable among us."

    Her next column? "Sun, again, rises in the East. . ."

    Look for it in Saturday's Miami Herald.

    Tuesday, July 23, 2013

    Your lunch hour time waster

    Raccoon steals cats' food while the cats watch.

    It's a boy!

    I don't know about you, but I want my Royal Baby news delivered by someone with a proper British accent.

    via The Daily Show: On Her Majesty's Secret Cervix - A Royal Son.
    England's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, delivers a son on her very first try.

    Today's classic Don Wright cartoons

    Miami News, June 3, 1988.
    [Reagan's remark offends U.S. Indians, June 1, 1988]
    (Click all images to enlarge.)

    Miami News, July 22, 1988.

    Miami News, July 26, 1988.

    Monday, July 22, 2013

    Tweet of the Day

    My friend, Billy Corben, liked my post on Miami Herald columnist Fabiola Santiago so much that he tweeted this today:

    Really, Billy? Comparing Fabiola to Fidel Castro?

    Isn't that a little harsh?

    Ah, maybe not.

    Sunday, July 21, 2013

    Fabiola Santiago just may be the Miami Herald's most fraudulent columnist

    Click here to enlarge.

    Miami Herald columnist Fabiola Santiago embarrassed herself and her newspaper a few days ago. It's something that Santiago has become quite experienced at doing.

    Santiago, whose work has been described at various times by colleagues as "trite" and "vapid," sat down at her computer following the weekend verdict in the George Zimmerman trial and composed a column for Wednesday's paper headlined, "Juror never gave Trayvon a chance." In the column, she offered solid proof that she is, without a doubt, the Herald's most incompetent writer.

    Normally I don't give Santiago's puerile and preachy scribblings more than a passing glance. On those occasions when I do choose to wade through her clunky prose; when I'm finished, my reaction is almost always the same: "There's five minutes I'll never get back."

    What prompted me to look at Santiago's Wednesday column was a scathing blog post written by Boca Raton-based criminal defense attorney Kevin F. Moot. Moot's post is one that should be read by every one of Santiago's bosses at the Herald.

    Moot begins the essay on his firm's blog with this paragraph:
    Like millions of Americans across the country, Fabiola Santiago is angry that George Zimmerman was acquitted in the killing of Trayvon Martin. Like millions of Americans upset with the verdict, she shows not the slightest appreciation for the rule of law. She writes derisively that juror B-37 "had no trouble giving Mr. Zimmerman the benefit of the doubt from the start," apparently blissfully unaware that it was juror B-37's solemn and lawful duty to presume Mr. Zimmerman's innocence from the start. The judge instructed her to give Mr. Zimmerman the benefit of the doubt. It's the law.
    Unfortunately, like so many upset Americans, Ms. Santiago has apparently forgotten that in America, when the government accuses an individual of a crime, the individual is given the benefit of the doubt, as a matter of law.
    But Moot saves the best for last and closes out his essay with these zingers:
    If Ms. Santiago actually believes that the State presented compelling evidence of Mr. Zimmerman's guilt, then Ms. Santiago either didn't watch the trial, or she holds the government to an incredibly low burden.
    Thankfully for all individuals in the State of Florida, we are not held to the exacting standards of Ms. Santiago. Rather, we are held to the standards of the law. That is the standard that juror B-37 applied. That is why George Zimmerman, innocent or not, is not guilty under the law.
    It's ironic that Moot mentions - if only sarcastically - Santiago's "exacting standards."

    Because, when it comes to getting stories in the paper, it's apparent she's not held to the same standards that her colleagues are. In the case of her Zimmerman juror column, it appears that it wasn't even looked at by an editor.

    There are plenty of other examples of Santiago's work that bolster my theory that she gets special treatment.

    Perhaps the best evidence of that is the time she used her column to launch a personal attack on Miami filmmaker Billy Corben after it was alleged that he used social media while he was on jury duty. Never mind that Corben sent out tweets in the courthouse before he was picked to sit on a jury. Those are facts and facts somehow never make it into Santiago's columns.

    After that column appeared, Kyle Munzenrieder at Miami New Times wrote this of Santiago's attack on Corben:
    Instead she uses her column for a full-out ad hominen attack on Corben. She makes a point of using his legal name, "William Corben," like she was an angry mother reprimanding her son. She calls him "condescending," and a "bad-boy" narcissist, and chides his "stupidity" and "runaway self-promotion." Never mind that Santiago herself comes off as condescending and slightly stupid.

    Worst of all, not a single bit of Santiago's painful column is particularly funny, clever or illuminating. It is seriously just a columnist rehashing a previously reported story and calling the man at the center of it names. Names that aren't even clever! "Twitting twit?" Seriously?

    Reading between the lines, one also gets the feeling that the columnist doesn't really understand the Internet. She writes with a shocked tone, "Every time he posted, his followers and friends commented." Yes! Welcome to Social Media 101, Fabiola!
    Want more proof that Santiago gets special treatment?

    Last February, Herald editors allowed Santiago to waste valuable space in their paper by printing her attack on the 18 year-old girl who flipped-off a Miami judge during an appearance in bond court.

    Santiago used her column to belittle someone with no prior criminal record but who was obviously struggling with drug-dependency issues.

    The judge she flipped-off had a record of having a short fuse and anger management issues. But Santiago ignored that. Instead, she tripped all over herself, calling the judge a "gentleman." So much for Santiago's exacting standards of journalism.

    "A lot of us rolled our eyes in disbelief after that column got in the paper," one staffer told me.

    A few days ago, one Herald insider described Santiago's work to me using terms like, "thin, poorly reported and fraudulent."

    It will be interesting to see if Herald editors, in the next few days, publicly acknowledge and correct Santiago's latest lapses as noted by Mr. Moot.

    We'll be anxiously waiting for that to happen.

    And until it does, we'll be keeping a close watch on Santiago's future columns with a feature we're calling, "Fabi Watch."

    Check back often as we set out to scrutinize the work of the Miami Herald's most fraudulent columnist.

    Saturday, July 20, 2013

    Friday, July 19, 2013

    Here's your feel-good video of the day

    U. S. Air Force Captain Hyrum Bronson chose a unique way to surprise his family after returning home from a tour of duty in Afghanistan.

    Via Bethany Bronson:
    After being in Afghanistan for 6 months and 3 months of training in the States before that with only a short month home in between, he is finally home! We thought he was coming home 3 weeks from now, but he is sneaky. We can't believe he is finally back home with us!

    scuba soldier, captain hyrum bronson, returns, afghanistan, surprises wife, kids, scuba gear

    Thursday, July 18, 2013

    Your lunch hour time waster - New York vs Texas

    Can we get Lewis Black to do something like this on Rick Scott?

    Memo to all South Florida TV reporters: Please stop interviewing idiots

    How many idiots and crybabies can one TV reporter cram into a 2 minute and 20 second story about rain?

    Let's find out as we watch CBS 4's Natalia Zea tap into a mother lode of stupidity on South Beach yesterday.

    “And I can’t believe the flooding, I’m going to have to wade through the water get across.” -Danielle Langevin

    "It’s a whole mess, and it’s a shame, it’s Miami Beach, it shouldn’t be.” -David Alfonso

    “When it all dries, we have to pick it up.” -Miami Beach resident Jon Carson, talking about the spilled contents of trash cans in his neighborhood.

    Wednesday, July 17, 2013

    Someone just bought Meyer Lansky's former Hallandale Beach home for $1.2 million

    Meyer Lansky's former home at 612 Hibiscus Drive, Hallandale Beach. 

    If walls could talk.

    Someone just bought a house in Hallandale Beach that comes with a bit of history.

    The home at 612 Hibiscus Drive was once owned by mobster Meyer Lansky.

    It sold last month for $1.2 million. The new owner is a front called Tiger Business LLC in Weston.

    From a 1990 Sun-Sentinel story:
    In 1958, Lansky lived at the Tuscany Hotel at 3800 S. Ocean Drive in Hollywood. In 1964, the FBI listed his permanent address as 612 Hibiscus Drive, Hallandale. And in 1969, Lansky moved to 5001 Collins Ave., Miami Beach.

    Click here to enlarge.

    Lansky's ties to Hallandale date back to the 1940s.

    In the summer of 1945, Lansky bought the Colonial Inn near Gulfstream Park from showman Lou Walters for $80,000.
    He opened the Colonial Inn in December 1945. The Inn became a profitable, posh East Coast gambling establishment. It was closed by the government in 1948.

    Miami Archives: The Meyer Lansky Scrapbook

    Miami Archives: The Meyer Lansky Scrapbook (Part II)

    The Miami Herald introduces a new feature: 'We omitted some information from a story - It's your job to figure out what it is'

    Here's a story that appears on the Miami Herald's website today:

    Miami man shot and killed by two robbers outside his home


    Miami police are asking the public’s help in finding two gunmen who robbed and killed a man working outside his home Tuesday.

    The victim, identified as Marcus Smith, 58, was rushed to Jackson Memorial Hospital and was pronounced dead shortly after his arrival.

    The daylight robbers made off with a watch, cash and other valuables, said Miami police spokesman Sgt. Freddie Cruz.

    “They just fired up on him; the motive appears to be robbery,” Cruz said.

    Police said the incident began about 2:05 p.m. when the victim was apparently outside his home at 549 NW 44th Street when he was accosted by the two suspects who shot him several times.

    The victim collapsed several feet away and the suspects robbed him of his jewelry then fled on foot.

    The men are believed to be in their 20s both with a thin build. One was wearing a red striped shirt, the other a black hoodie.

    “I know that’s kind of vague information, but if anyone saw anything, we need them to come forward,” Cruz said.

    Anyone with information on the shooting is asked to call CrimeStoppers at 305-471-8477.

    This story will be updated when more information is available.

    Miami Herald photographer Walter Michot contributed to this report.

    Now, here's where the fun begins.

    The writer has slyly omitted some key information from the story.

    Can you guess what it is?  I ask that only because that's apparently what Herald editors want their readers to do: Guess or fill in the blanks.

    Here's a hint: The first sentence reads, "Miami police are asking the public’s help in finding two gunmen who robbed and killed a man working outside his home Tuesday."

    OK, so what's missing from the Herald story?

    Give up?

    Here's some help...

    Below is the press release sent by Miami Police last night that contains two vital pieces of information that should have been included in a story that begins with the sentence: "Miami police are asking the public’s help in finding two gunmen who robbed and killed a man working outside his home Tuesday."


    On July 16, 2013, at approxiatmately 2:05 P.M., the victim was outside a home located at 549 N.W. 44 Street where he was doing some work. The victim was standing on the sidewalk when he was approached by two Black males who shot him several times. The victim then collapsed several feet away, at which time they took his jewelry. The subjects then fled in an unknown direction on foot. The victim was transported to Jackson Memorial Hospital in critical condition.

    The Miami Police Department is looking for:

    Suspect #1 Black male, 5-9 to 5’10, thin built, in his 20’s, wearing a red shirt with stripes.

    Suspect #2 Black male, 5’9’to 5’10, thin built, in his 20’s, wearing a black sweater with a hood.

    Anyone with information is urged to contact the Miami Police Department’s Homicide Unit at (305) 603-6350. Those with information that wish to remain anonymous can contact Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at (305) 471- TIPS (4877), visit and select “Give a Tip” or Send a text message to 274637. Enter CSMD followed by the tip information and press send.

    Tuesday, July 16, 2013

    The way we were....Tempers flare in Judge Blanton's courtroom in 1917

    Dedication of the Dade County courthouse, July 28, 1914.

    August 21, 1917: Summer in Miami and temperatures are hovering in the mid-eighties.

    Inside the new Dade County Courthouse, Judge W.F. Blanton is hearing the cases of six "indignant" soda fountain owners charged with failing to wash and properly sterilize drinking glasses.

    And even though it's still early morning, in Blanton's courtroom, tempers are nearing the boiling point.

    The Miami Daily Metropolis reports the first case is that of W.A. Cox, who has been summoned to court because a health inspector saw him reuse his glasses after rinsing them in cold water.

    Judge Blanton fines Cox $15. He stalks out of the courtroom, but not before threatening to kick the health inspector out of his business if he shows up again. Not to be outdone, the health inspector "promptly had a warrant sworn out for his arrest on the charge of using threatening language," the Metropolis reported.

    Next up is the case of a fountain manager who's also been dragged into court for not washing glasses. He says his plumbing was out of order. He's fined $15 and protests that he's being persecuted.

    Next, the judge hears the case of J.K. Fink who manages the fountain at a cigar store. The inspector says the water used to wash the glasses at the store's soda fountain wasn't hot enough to kill germs.

    Fink argues that if the water was as hot as the ordinance demanded, he "would not have a glass left in the store, because the hot water would crack them all."

    The judge doesn't buy his excuse. He's also fined $15.

    Also in Judge Blanton's court that morning was a Miami Beach "speed cop" who had been arrested the day before for speeding in Miami.

    He tells the judge he didn't know how fast he was going because he wasn't looking at his speedometer; but then says there was no way he could have been going 60 miles an hour as the arresting officer claimed.

    Blanton fines him $10.

    As he leaves the courtroom, the Beach cop reminds the judge that Miami Beach also has a speed limit.

    And, according to the Metropolis, he tells the judge he'd better watch his speedometer if he ever visits Miami Beach.

    Apparently, rowdy courtroom behavior was the norm in Miami in the early part of the century.

    A few years later, in August 1922, the Metropolis reported that two attorneys arguing over a contested will in Judge Blanton's courtroom, threatened "to go out on the courthouse lawn and fight it out with their fists."

    "You and I, will go on the outside and settle this argument, if you want to," declared one of the battling barristers.

    Judge Blanton quickly overruled that motion with a stern glance, according to the Metropolis. 

    Miami Daily Metropolis, Aug. 21, 1917.

    Aug. 21, 1917.

    Aug. 21, 1917.

    So, this happened at County Hall this morning

    video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

    Angry animal lovers and Miami-Dade voters showed up at County Hall this morning to try and persuade Mayor Carlos Gimenez to "change his mind on fully funding programs to end mass killings at the county’s animal shelter," reports the Miami Herald's Elinor Brecher.

    But, before filing into the commission chambers, some of the attendees made their sentiments known by holding a rally in the plaza outside County Hall.

    Some chose to make their point by holding up placards made from a Photoshopped Miami Herald front page that I posted here last Friday.

    It's gratifying to know that some are noticing what I do here.

    Photographs by Peter Andrew Bosch/Miami Herald.
    Click images to enlarge.

    Monday, July 15, 2013

    Your lunch hour time waster

    Today's "Time Waster" answers the question: Is it possible to shoot a bad video of Golden Retrievers?

    Answer: No.

    Sunday, July 14, 2013

    The Verdict

    Criminal Defense Blog: The Embarrassment Of The George Zimmerman Verdict

    Saturday, July 13, 2013

    Miami Beach Police responded to the city's two towing companies more than 750 times in 2012

    "If you're not part of the solution, you are part of the problem." 
    Beach Towing attorney Ralph Andrade and Miami 
    Beach Commissioner and mayoral candidate Michael Góngora.

    In a little more than three months from now - on Nov. 5 - Miami Beach voters will go to the polls to elect a new mayor.

    Three of the candidates are well-known to Beach voters: current commissioners Jerry Libbin and Michael Góngora and comedian Steve Berke. Long-time Beach businessman Philip Levine is not that well known.

    So far, we haven't heard that much from the candidates.

    But, generally speaking, their positions on the issues are pretty much identical.

    According to their websites, they're all for strong leadership and against corruption at City Hall. Further, the candidates tell us they "care about Miami Beach," that they're "diligent workers" and "active members of the community." What's not to like?

    You'll know that their campaigns have shifted into high gear and that election day is near when they start the name calling and your mailbox starts filling up with negative campaign mailers.

    And while you may not live in Miami Beach, you should pay close attention to this election. Especially if you ever drive a car to Miami Beach and park it anywhere on Miami Beach's 7.2 square mile strip of real estate.

    And, if you're a Miami Beach taxpayer who's tired of seeing your money being wasted, you'll want to pay close attention to the next few paragraphs.

    Last May, I wrote a post for this blog that took an in-depth look at Miami Beach's two towing companies. Companies that engage in, what one Miami Beach cop once told me was "legalized auto theft."

    I found that the towing companies have been able flourish over the years with help from lobbyists, a few former Miami Beach mayors and a succession of politicians and public servants who work out of a building at 1700 Convention Center Drive.

    As I researched the post, a few paragraphs from a 2005 Miami Herald story jumped out at me:
    In 2004, calls to police for assistance reached a new high: 958 calls from irate customers and towing employees alike. By comparison, the police received 614 calls in 2000. The number has grown steadily since then."

    The calls and the complaints have become a public relations dilemma for the city and a drain on police.

    "It definitely takes away from our resources, especially because we have to often send two officers to respond to a call," said police spokesman Bobby Hernandez.
    My curiosity piqued, I submitted a public records request to Miami Beach PD for a list of calls received and dispatched to Miami Beach's two towing companies in 2012.

    Last week I received the lists and I've embedded them below. The total number of calls dispatched to both Beach and Tremont Towing in 2012 was approximately 768.

    A close look at the lists reveals that many of the calls dispatched are what police designate as  a "34." (Listed as "call type" in the third column of the embedded documents.) That's police radio code for a disturbance that covers everything from a customer arguing loudly with a clerk to a fist fight.

    In those cases, police dispatchers are required to dispatch two units for officer safety. And, as Beach police spokesman Hernandez said in 2005, "it definitely takes away from our resources."

    Earlier this week, Hernandez told me in a phone interview that the 768 calls dispatched doesn't reflect that actual number of calls received by his department from the victims of the towing companies. In many cases, Hernandez told me, complaint desk personnel are able to convince callers that the police can't do anything to help them get their car back.

    "We tell them that once their car has been towed, their only option is to pay and then take the tow company to court," Hernandez told me. "But if they insist, we have to dispatch a unit," said Hernandez.

    If you're a Miami Beach resident and taxpayer; even if you've never had your car towed, you also pay.

    Two units answering a call at a tow company means there are two fewer units on the streets protecting citizens.

    Multiply that by 768 times, year in and year out, and you start see the tremendous drain on resources these two companies create annually. Who pays for this? You, the taxpayer. Not the towing companies.

    But, for the companies it's been business as usual: They've been rewarded with a virtual monopoly and rate increases guaranteeing them huge profits and no competition.

    So, I wondered, what do the four candidates running for mayor have to say about this waste of taxpayer money?

    Earlier this week, I reached out to all four by phone and email and asked this question:
    In any other town, if cops were called this many times to a business, the Nuisance Abatement Board would shut them down. 
    As a candidate for mayor, does it concern you at all that Miami Beach police have been dispatched more than 700 times to just two businesses in the City of Miami Beach?

    Here are the responses, in alphabetical order, from each candidate:

    Steve Berke: As a candidate for mayor, I'm extremely concerned that the City of Miami Beach seems to be partnered with two towing companies that have a horrendous history of using threats, extortion, and other bullying tactics as part of their daily business. Unfortunately, my car has been towed by both Beach and Tremont towing, so I have personally experienced some of these ruthless practices. Both companies hire thugs for drivers who berate and intimidate both our residents and the tourists who come to visit our city. To make matters worse, many of these employees have developed inflated egos due to the reality show "South Beach Tow" which seems to glorify their thuggish behavior. Not only does it leave a bad taste in everyone's mouth, but the amount of police that have been dispatched to deal with these companies is a waste of our taxpayer's money. What's surprising is that the commissioners seem to be complacent with the current system. If I am elected mayor, I would immediately look into reforming the current system because our residents definitely deserve better.

    Michael Góngora: Did not respond to my phone calls, text messages or emails. However, last April he told me that the towing companies are a "horrible, necessary evil."

    Philip Levine: Towing on Miami Beach is a long-standing policy and necessary public service in our city. We're on an island and our private and public space is limited. Many of our residents pay parking permit fees and for their quality of life illegal parking and towing is something that must be enforced simply as a matter of fairness. However, should I become Mayor, I will conduct a thorough assessment of all city services and operations during the first 90 days. During the course of that review, should I uncover a problem with the towing vendors I will implement corrective actions forcefully and fairly, including any necessary sanctions upon them in accordance with our city code.

    Jerry Libbin: Did not respond to several email requests for a comment.

    Friday, July 12, 2013

    VIDEO: Former Miami Heat player Lamar Odom trashes cars and cameras of paparazzi in Los Angeles

    Lamar Odom displays camera gear he stole from a photographer.

    Former Miami Heat player Lamar Odom, AKA Mr. Khloe Kardashian, "dramatically lashed out [at] the paparazzi Wednesday."

    "Odom completely trashed a set of photographers' cars after they tried taking photos of him and questioned if he cheated on his wife after a tabloid rumor broke this week that he had been unfaithful," reports the New York Daily News.

    A source revealed to People Magazine that Odom was stopped at a light near his Los Angeles home when the photogs approached his car and repeatedly asked him about the alleged cheating scandal.

    "I would never cheat on my wife, that's why I wear my wedding ring," he answered.

    "Put your cameras down and let me talk to you man to man," Odom reportedly said to try and reason with them.

    Things took a turn for the worst when a very frustrated Odom got out of his car and started smashing their vehicles, broke their cameras and fled the scene with some of their gear.

    Read the full story by clicking here.

    Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez is Florida's most morally bankrupt politician

    Click here to enlarge.

    Despite the fact that an "animal-welfare plan was given a thumbs up by nearly 65 percent of Miami-Dade voters last November," on Wednesday, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez told the Miami Herald that he "will drop his request to raise a portion of the tax rate to fully fund a $19 million plan to stop killing dogs and cats at the county’s shelter."

    So what possible reason could Mayor Gimenez have for disregarding 483,000 "yes" votes for a county-funded "no-kill" animal shelter?

    Gimenez told the Herald "that he heard from several people Wednesday that they would not have favored the measure if it had been binding."

    That's it, Mayor Gimenez? You're invalidating 483,000 votes because a few people told you they didn't understand the ballot question?

    By the way, this is the same Carlos Gimenez who, according to Miami New Times, recently gave newly-promoted Port of Miami director Juan Kuryla, a 69% pay raise.

    Apparently, Mayor Gimenez needs some remedial training on the fundamentals of democracy.

    If you're one of the 483,000 Miami-Dade voters whose vote was invalidated by Gimenez, here are a few numbers you can call to voice your displeasure. Start dialing

    Mayor’s Office: 305-375-5071

    Mayor’s Personal secretary: 305-375-1880

    Vice Mayor Alina Hudak: 305 375 2531

    Mayor’s Email: