Thursday, October 31, 2013

The way we were...'I was a defenseless bird against four cops...'

From rakontur's "The U"

Twenty-four years ago this week:


UM Mascot Says Police Roughed Him Up

Monday, October 30, 1989
Herald Sports Writer

Police at Tallahassee's Doak Campbell Stadium ruffled the feathers of Sebastian the Ibis Saturday night when they threatened to cage the University of Miami mascot.

John Routh, the man inside the bird costume at all UM football games since 1984, was in uniform when four armed officers grabbed him as he ran onto the field with the UM football team before Florida State's 24-10 victory over UM.

"Four of them grabbed me and slammed me up against a fence as I ran onto the field," said Routh, who also plays the Maniac mascot at UM baseball and basketball games and serves as a mascot at the College World Series every year. "One of them grabbed my left arm (wing) and put it behind my back, and another one grabbed my right arm (wing) and put his elbow underneath my chin to keep me from moving.

"They threatened to throw me in jail if I went onto the field. I was a defenseless bird against four cops."

Your lunch hour time waster

The Jimmy Kimmel Live Children's Choir Sings About Halloween Candy.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Miami Herald just told every politician in So. Fla.: 'Feel free to use us like your little bitch'

Something happened today I thought I would never see in my lifetime: The Miami Herald - at one time Florida's most powerful and respected newspaper - let itself be used like a little bitch by a politician.

For those of you who don't follow Miami Beach politics, let me bring you up to speed.

Three candidates are running to become Miami Beach's next mayor: former comedian Steve Berke, current Miami Beach commissioner Michael Gongora, and millionaire businessman Philip Levine.

This is Berke's second attempt at becoming Beach mayor and Gongora's first. Levine is a political novice....who's acting like a political novice, and some say, a total dork.

Being a complete stranger to the world of politics, and a babe in the woods when it comes to talking to the press, Levine has surrounded himself with some very sleazy people who apparently have never heard of the First Amendment.

In the past couple of weeks, Levine's attack dogs have gone after a blogger, threatening him with a lawsuit and lodging complaints against him with the Florida Elections Commission and the Miami-Dade Commission Ethics and Public Trust.

In another instance, one of Levine's handlers, political consultant David Custin, threatened former Miami Herald writer and political blogger Elaine de Valle, after she tried to contact Levine for a piece she was writing.

Levine campaign attorney, JC Planas, followed up on Custin's threats with a threat of his own: He told de Valle he was going to call the State Attorney’s Office and file stalking charges against her.

Today, on her blog Political Cortadito, de Valle goes into more detail on Levine's clumsy, ham-fisted attempts to silence his critics using threats of lawsuits.
It’s not new or specific to the 305. The lawsuits also happen in California and other states. It has become so commonplace there is a term to describe it: “SLAPPs,” or “Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation.”

It’s always easier when the person doing the SLAPPin’ has loads of money to spend on burdensome and frivolous lawsuits that are only there for the sake of misdirection and distraction. In Levine’s campaign — where the man has spent over $1 million for a job that pays $10,000 a year — it’s probably a budgeted item under legal expenses.

Yesterday, the Miami Herald's Christina Veiga tried to sort all this out by writing a story that attempted to examine the accusations that Levine was trying to silence his and bully his critics.

When Veiga tried to contact Levine for his side of the story, he refused to talk to her.

Instead, Levine - a millionaire who's used to getting his way - got the last laugh on the Herald, using the paper like his little bitch and bullying the paper's editors into complete and total submission.

Veiga writes, "Through his campaign consultant, Philip Levine refused to answer questions about his response to political attacks on the telephone. Instead, his campaign manager, Alex Miranda, emailed this statement to a Miami Herald reporter, which is reprinted here in full."

Miranda sent his email with these instructions:

Hello Christina:

You are only authorized to write the answers below, verbatim. You are NOT allowed to edit or paraphrase these on the record answers. You can reference the responses as, 'Philip Levine’s campaign responded in writing for the record citing concern that The Miami Herald’s bias in this election would result in a distortion of his answers.

The Herald published Levine's unedited answers - in full - both online and in this morning's paper.

Miami Herald, Oct. 30, 2013, page 4B.
Click here to enlarge.

I asked one veteran South Florida journalist for his opinion of the Herald's handling of this.

His response:
This is highly unusual and the Herald handled it improperly. By rolling over and abdicating its journalistic prerogative, the Herald just established a damaging precedent - every candidate for every race now can demand similar treatment: "Print my statement in whole because you did it for that other candidate."

The proper way to handle it would have been to report the candidate's demand and then ignore it, with an editor's note explaining why it had to be ignored.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Monday, October 28, 2013

Random Pixels presents The Jonah Wolfson File

DISCLAIMER: The above illustration is a parody.
Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead 
is purely coincidental.
More fine print: Void where prohibited. Must be 18 to read. Disclaimer does not cover misuse,
accident, lightning, flood, tornado, tsunami, volcanic eruption, earthquake,
hurricanes and other Acts of God.


Read a related post at Political Cortadito: "Levine handler Jonah Wolfson dodges ethics questions."


It was just one in a series of Miami Beach mayoral debates being conducted this election season...this one at the Miami Beach Golf Club last Sept. 23.

None of the participants - former comedian Steve Berke, Beach commissioner Michael Gongora, and businessman Philip Levine - would say anything remarkable, memorable or even newsworthy that night.

But everyone who was there remembers one word shouted from the back of the room.

Berke was in the midst of calling Levine "one of the biggest special interest groups in Miami Beach," when someone in the audience yelled at Berke, calling him an "a**hole."

That someone was Miami Beach Commissioner Jonah Wolfson, one of Philip Levine's staunchest supporters. 

Levine, is a multi-millionaire, who, so far, has spent more than $1 million of his own money trying to become Miami Beach mayor. Think of Levine as a shark and Wolfson as his remora.

While the expletive is hard to pick up on the tape, Wolfson doesn't deny saying it. “I stand by my description of Berke,” Wolfson told the Miami Herald's David Smiley.

It's not the first time Wolfson has gone the potty-mouth route.

Last August, Miami New Times staff writer Frank Alvarado tried to ask Wolfson if he did favors for Miami Beach's two towing companies in exchange for their support of his wife's judicial campaign.

Wolfson told Alvarado: "Because we're talking about the tow companies, you want to make it salacious," he says. "My response to asking me if political contributions had something to do with my vote is, 'Go f*ck yourself.'"

Wolfson's outburst at the debate didn't surprise one Miami Beach voter.

"Doral has Joe Carollo, we have Jonah Wolfson," a long-time Beach resident told me. "It's not the first time Jonah has come unhinged. Over the past few years his behavior has become increasingly erratic," the resident said.

My curiosity piqued, I started doing some research on Wolfson.

Thanks to the miracle of Google, I stumbled upon this campaign video his wife Andrea posted on YouTube last year when she was running for judge.

In it, Commissioner Wolfson - who is also a personal injury attorney -  comes across as a loyal husband, adoring father of two children and a soft-spoken and articulate advocate for his wife's campaign.

But as I dug deeper, a darker portrait of Wolfson began to emerge.

Back in September, Wolfson told the Herald's Smiley, "[Berke] is a comedian trying to make a video and profit off of our local electoral process. He’s not a legitimate candidate. He’s a clown.”

Imagine that, Wolfson calling someone "a clown" and accusing them of profiting off the electoral process. (Pot, meet kettle.) But I digress.

ITEM: In 2011, Wolfson ran unopposed and won a second four year term on the city commission. Despite of the fact no one opposed him, Wolfson still managed to collect almost $108,000 in contributions.

Wolfson's final campaign treasurer's report shows that he paid a firm called DRC Consulting more than $100,000 for direct mailings, TV production, a "Spanish TV purchase - thank you ad," and a $10,000 bonus to DRC Consulting's owner, David R. Custin.

Jonah Wolfson has been very, very good to David Custin. 
What does Wolfson get in return?
It's a question many in Miami Beach are asking.

Do the math on that one: Wolfson wins a second term as Miami Beach commissioner - a job that pays $6,000 a year.

And even though he ran unopposed, he still raised over $100,000, paying most of that to David Custin.  And expecting nothing in return from Custin, naturellement.

Custin is now running Philip Levine's campaign.

(Last September, Custin threatened political blogger Elaine de Valle - a journalist who spent 18 years at the Miami Herald and was on two Pulitzer Prize-winning teams - because of her attempts to reach Philip Levine in her capacity as a journalist.)

Custin (read Wolfson) is also behind the Citizens for Ethical and Effective Leadership ECO, a PAC that's been sending out mailers attacking mayoral candidate Michael Gongora. So far this year, the PAC has raised over $1.7 million.

The most recent treasurer's report for the PAC shows that it's paid back over $80,000 to Custin's company, DRC Consulting for "direct mail" and "TV advertising."

When I showed the report to a South Florida political veteran, this was his response:
The problem is there is no proof that the bill is really for any service rendered. No one can audit it. He controls the checkbook and just approves his payment to himself. There is a "Treasurer" Daniel Cifuentes, but he just signs the reports.

Notice that Gerald Robins (the father of Scott Robins; Philip Levine's business partner) gave the Citizens For Ethical….Leadership Pac/eco (Wolfson and Custin) $50,000; he also gave the Let Miami Beach Decide pac (Jonah Wolfson's other pac) a separate $25,000 contribution.

That is $75,000 to Jonah in a two week period in September. It will all get spent on DRC Consulting (David Custin) David and Jonah will will work out their personal arrangement on how it gets split and shared. No accounting.

ITEM: In August, 2012, the Miami Herald's David Smiley took a look at a loophole in Miami Beach's campaign finance laws that prohibit companies, developers and vendors that do business with the city from contributing to the political campaigns of candidates for mayor or commission.

"But they can give freely to commissioners’ spouses," Smiley reported.

Smiley also reported that Wolfson's wife, "County Court Judge Andrea Wolfson has received at least $9,500 from companies related to Russell Galbut, a principal of convention center bidder Crescent Heights, and thousands more from Miami Beach vendors."

Smiley's report apparently didn't cause Judge Wolfson to scrutinize donors to her campaign any closer, even though one might think that as a judge she would want to hold herself to higher standard and avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest.

On Oct. 25, 2012, Judge Wolfson received a bundled contribution from companies owned by Boca Raton entrepreneur Marc Bell.    (Click here to view the report and Bell's contributions starting at sequence number 66. That same form, by the way, also shows that Wolfson's campaign paid David Custin's firm $45,000 for "TV advertisements." Ain't that cozy?)

In the business world, Marc Bell is perhaps best known as the CEO of "FriendFinder Networks Inc., the publisher of Penthouse magazine and numerous adult-entertainment websites" which last September filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

(For those of you with nothing better to do, here are two videos that show the business side of Marc Bell, and Marc after dark.)

(According to the Florida Department of State Division of Elections website, Marc Bell's sister, Leslie Bell, gave $25,000 to Citizens for Ethical and Effective Leadership, Custin and Wolfson's PAC. The elections website lists Leslie Bell's address as Stamford CT and her occupation as "owner computer company.")

After looking at the videos of Bell, you might be tempted to ask yourself this: "Why would a multi-millionaire Boca Raton pornographer want to contribute money to the election campaign of a relatively obscure judge in Miami... whose husband just happens to be a Miami Beach commissioner?"

Well it just so happens - and this is probably a coincidence - that Marc Bell had partnered up with Keith Menin and Jared Galbut, the principal and managing principals of South Beach's Menin Hotels, hoping "to open a new 100-suite flagship hotel called Market Lincoln Lane as part of a larger project just off Lincoln Road," the Herald's Hannah Sampson reported last April.

ITEM: In June 2011, when Wolfson's wife, Andrea, filed a public disclosure form that's required every year of judges, she listed the couple's financial interests and assets. On it, she listed her home and its value at $470,000.

On this year's public disclosure form, Wolfson now claims the value of the house is $500,000.

But sources tell me that the couple is fighting the valuation - much lower than $500,000 - given to the home by the Miami-Dade property appraiser's office.

When blogger Elaine de Valle tried to question Commissioner Wolfson on Saturday about those discrepancies, de Valle says Wolfson "went off the reservation." You can read de Valle's report on Wolfson on her blog, Political Cortadito.

Also, in 2011, Judge Wolfson listed the couple's net worth as $118,000. This year she listed it at $372,000.

Jonah Wolfson and his wife live in one of these houses in a modest neighborhood
on the northern end of Miami Beach. The couple claims the house's value
is $500,000, far more than any of the neighboring homes.

(Click image to enlarge.)

ITEM: While Wolfson has other troubles that we'll examine in later posts, it appears that those who work in close proximity to him are also snakebit.

Sources tell me that Wolfson's city hall aide, Leonor Hernandez, who has a foreclosure and judgments against her in the neighborhood of $5 million, has somehow managed to buy a house for close to $300,000 in cash.

Last month, the Miami Herald reported that Hernandez was to "be issued a letter of instruction after a resident filed an ethics complaint over a public records request."
The complaint will be dismissed, but Wolfson’s aide, Leonor Hernandez, will be issued a letter of instruction “reminding her of the duties and obligations regarding provision of public records by public servants in the Miami-Dade County Citizen’s Bill of Rights.”

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Random Pixels Losers Corner welcomes....

....Miami-Dade Commissioner Audrey Edmonson.

Over the years Miami-Dade residents have heard a lot of stupid talk come out of the building at 111 NW 1st Street.

But a few things Commissioner Audrey Edmonson said this week could be some of the most idiotic statements ever uttered at County Hall.

On Tuesday the Miami Herald reported, "Last week, the [corrections] department began allowing released inmates who had rides of their own to leave jail directly from the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center in West Miami-Dade. The remaining inmates are bused to the civic center in Miami, which houses the main jail and criminal courthouse and offers round-the-clock access to public transportation."

The Herald's Patricia Mazzei reports "That irked Commissioner Audrey Edmonson, who represents the civic center district and only just found out that’s where inmates get released — even though that’s been county practice since 1961."

“We already have a high crime rate,” she told Corrections Director Tim Ryan. “What you’re doing is increasing it.”

"The buses do not run 24/7 in front of TGK. They stop a little bit before 10 p.m,” Ryan told Edmonson.
Then maybe the jail shouldn’t release anyone after 10 p.m., Edmonson suggested.

Ryan said he would like to halt releases between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. But judges and the public defender have told him that would run afoul of a person’s constitutional protections.

“I have an obligation to get them out in four hours if they’re to be released,” he said.

So, Commissioner Edmonson...welcome to the Random Pixels Losers Corner.

In a town with more that its share of idiot politicians, you truly are one of the most idiotic to come down the pike in a long time.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The way we were...Migrant farm workers near Homestead, 1939

Original caption for top four images: Vegetable workers, migrants,
waiting after work to be paid. Near Homestead, Florida.
All photographs by Marion Post Wolcott 
via The Library of Congress.
(Click here to enlarge.)

Click here to enlarge.

Click here to enlarge.

Click here to enlarge.

Original caption: Grocery store in Negro section. 
Homestead, Florida, 1939.
Click here to enlarge.

Original caption: Main street, Negro section. 
Homestead, Florida.
Click here to enlarge.

Your lunch hour time waster

Here's a video shot by a couple of videographers in their spare time while they were in Miami covering the 2010 Super Bowl for ESPN. One of the filmmakers, Joel Edwards writes: "So we're in Miami this year shooting for ESPN SuperBowl coverage.. and I'm blown away by so many different colors we're capturing... and then... Roache and I get on a couple of boats for water views... long story short.. we had so much extra footage... great footage... I figured I might as well put together a scenic mix with some crazy color correction and trance music."

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Attorney Mark Gold facing felony battery charges

Mark Gold.
(Miami-Dade Corrections photo)

High profile Miami attorney Mark Gold has been arrested by Miami Beach police.

Gold was arrested early Wednesday morning and charged with felony battery.

Gold is the founder of The Ticket Clinic, a law firm that specializes in defending people charged with traffic offenses.

According to the arrest affidavit, Gold and his fiancee got into a "verbal altercation over things he found on Facebook about her that then escalated into a physical confrontation."

The arresting officer also says in the affidavit that Gold struck his fiancee in the face and "then pushed her to the ground."

(Miami New Times reports that Gold's fiancee is 21-year-old "party girl" Chandler Sutherland.)

The arrest report says Gold fled after the altercation and was apprehended when officers spotted him walking on a bridge on the Venetian Causeway just a few blocks from his home on West Rivo Alto Drive.

In 2011, Gold made international headlines after filing a lawsuit against a Miami strip club.
The defendant, [Goldrush,] a strip club, served the plaintiff, a lawyer, 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." Then the defendant charged his credit card $18,930 for "goods and services.


Your lunch hour time waster

Who let the dog out?

Guy couldn't figure out how his dog and cat were getting out of the kitchen while he was at work. So he set up a security cam to find out. (If you're impatient, you can skip to 1:40.)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

How a spilled cup of hot coffee set off a media frenzy

Via The New York Times:
"In 1992, Stella Liebeck spilled scalding McDonald's coffee in her lap and later sued the company, attracting a flood of negative attention. It turns out there was more to the story."

Trader Joe's opens in Pinecrest - Clueless cops and elected officials fall asleep at the switch

Actual un-retouched photo of the
Pinecrest Police Department in action

last Friday at Trader Joe's.
Trader Joe's opened in the tiny, 7.6 sq. mile Village of Pinecrest last Friday.

For those of you not familiar with that neck of the woods, the new store sits at the intersection of busy South Dixie Highway and Dadeland Boulevard, directly across from Shorty's Barbecue and the Dadeland South Metrorail station - an intersection that is one of South Florida's busiest and most congested.

But the opening - which has been the subject of scores of stories in the South Florida media for months - quickly turned into a public relations nightmare for Trader Joe's, the Pinecrest Police Department and at least one Pinecrest elected official. This, after tow trucks started showing up and towing the cars (see entries here @ 9:25, 10:19 & 10:48 am) of Trader Joe's customers within minutes of the store's opening.

It appears that inept Pinecrest cops and and their clueless mayor were blissfully ignorant of the store's cult following and hadn't prepared for hundreds of Trader Joe's fans showing up, eager to be among the first to stock up on Two-Buck Chuck and pumpkin butter.

From today's Miami Herald:
Pinecrest Mayor Cindy Lerner
and Trader Joe's managers celebrate
the store's opening last Friday.
(Click to enlarge.)
Pinecrest police said 55 cars were towed around Trader Joe’s over the weekend at the request of property owners. The California-based chain opened its first South Florida outlet at 9205 S. Dixie Hwy. in Pinecrest on Friday.

The chain has a national cult following, and the local store was mobbed all weekend, much to the distress of neighboring businesses.
“We were aware it was opening, but it was almost like a cult following,” said [Pinecrest] Detective Alexandra Martinez. “There’s no way we could have anticipated this. It’s the first time we’ve seen this amount of attention for this kind of store.”
“You don’t require extra parking based on popularity, that’s not in the zoning code,” said Mayor Cindy Lerner, who expects the rush to die down by the end of the week. “We have to treat everybody on an objective criteria, and that criteria is based on square footage.”
Pinecrest Mayor Cindy Lerner is exhibit "A" of why people despise politicians. Stupid politicians, anyway.

Had Lerner put down her copy of Pinecrest's zoning code and picked up a copy of the Herald once in a while, she might have learned that Trader Joe's wasn't just another grocery store.

From the Miami Herald, Jan. 5, 2013:
Fans usually flood in on opening day. The Naples Daily News reported that hours before the store’s opening last February, hundreds waited in a line that snaked around the entire back of the shopping center. Some people traveled from other cities and stood in line as early as 5:30 a.m.

Pinecrest officials believe parking won’t be an issue. The city requires the store to provide at least 56 parking spaces – and the store is planning to have 89, [Pinecrest Planning Director Stephen] Olmsted said. [Emphasis mine.]
Last night, after reading the Herald story, one Kendall resident told me:
What a BS response from the mayor and the detective. Two clearly short-sighted people. I predicted this fiasco two years ago.
As it is now, I'm not going to ANY of these places for fear of having my car mistakenly towed. Was already a hassle. This Trader Joe's is going to kill the neighboring businesses.

Today's classic Don Wright cartoons

A couple of Don Wright editorial cartoons from 30 years ago.

Miami News, Oct. 18, 1983.
(Click images to enlarge.)

Miami News, Nov. 7, 1983.

Your lunch hour time waster


SHAKE from Variable on Vimeo.

Monday, October 21, 2013

The man who lives in this house has spent over $1 million of his own money trying to get elected to a job that pays $10,000 a year. Why?

Miami Beach mayoral candidate Philip Levine's
Sunset Island home, center.
(Click image to enlarge.)

Miami Beach mayoral candidate Philip Levine's website says, "For the past 28 years, [he] has been an integral member of the Miami Beach community."

According to his site, Levine started a company in 1990 with just $500.

And, before long he was a multi-millionaire.

But making piles of money - sometimes using questionable or borderline illegal business practices - left him little time to do other things.

Levine's idea of being an "integral member of the Miami Beach community" apparently doesn't include bothersome things like voting in municipal elections or even attending an occasional city commission meeting. But now he wants to be the city's mayor.

It's nearly impossible to find any evidence in our local newspaper of anything he's done to better Miami Beach or South Florida. Or anything that shows he cares about his community.

I did find one mention in a 2007 Miami Herald story that talks about Levine getting involved and using his considerable influence to bring about some change at MIA. But that's it.

From the Miami Herald, April 1, 2007:
When Miami Beach entrepreneur Philip Levine got frustrated last year waiting for his baggage from American Airlines at Miami International Airport, he contacted the aviation director and set in motion the creation of a task force to tackle the problems.

"No one loves to check luggage, but with the new regulations, more and more people do," said Levine , the founder of Onboard Media and now co-owner of 15 Lucky Strike bowling centers. "So the issue is how do you not only get it down faster, but also make that area nicer and an easier place to hang?"

The result a few months later: somewhat expedited baggage delivery, and a slightly nicer claims area.

Levine couldn't believe there were no flat-screen monitors to tell passengers which carousel would have their bags. He said the place needed music and somewhere to buy coffee.

He wanted the whole vibe changed -- including employees' attitudes.

"Everyone should be an ambassador," said Levine, 45.

Miami-Dade Aviation Director José Abreu heeded his words, and in November, created a task force of about 20 members, including representatives from the airport, American Airlines, the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Beacon Council, to remedy the situation.
So, the next time you're at the American Airlines baggage claim carousel and you're enjoying the music, the flat screen monitors, and the coffee, and you're wondering who to thank... Philip Levine's your guy.

Entrance to Miami Beach mayoral candidate Philip Levine's
Sunset Island home.
(Click image to enlarge.)

Philip Levine isn't the first millionaire to run for public office.

One tally shows that 47 percent of the members U.S. House and Senate are millionaires. And then there's Rick Scott...remember him?

But those folks have real power. And the benefits aren't bad, either.

On the other hand, the Miami Beach mayor's job comes with a $10,000 annual salary and an uncovered parking spot.

And "one vote out of seven on the City Commission," says the Herald's Christina Veiga.

And, according to Veiga, "Levine has bankrolled his own campaign to the tune of $1.2 million. He calls his campaign events 'Friendraisers.' Contributions aren’t required, and Levine picks up the tab."

So why is a multi-millionaire spending more than $1 million of his own money to win a job that pays $10,000 a year and comes with no power.

So far, Levine hasn't answered that question satisfactorily.

But it's an answer he owes Miami Beach voters.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Your Saturday morning time waster: A Handy Guide to Newspapers

1. The Wall Street Journal is read by the people who run the country.

2. The Washington Post is read by people who THINK they run the country.

3. The New York Times is read by people who think they SHOULD run the country, and who are very good at crossword puzzles.

4. USA Today is read by people who think they ought to run the country but don't really understand The New York Times. They do, however, like their statistics shown in pie charts.

5. The Los Angeles Times is read by people who wouldn't mind running the country, if they could find the time--and if they didn't have to leave Southern California to do it.

6. The Boston Globe is read by people whose parents used to run the country and did a poor job of it, thank you very much.

7. The New York Daily News is read by people who aren't too sure who's running the country and don't really care as long as they can get a seat on the train.

8. The New York Post is read by people who don't care who is running the country as long as they do something really scandalous, preferably while intoxicated.

9. The Miami Herald is read by people who are running another country, but need the baseball scores.

10. The San Francisco Chronicle is read by people who aren't sure if there is a country or that anyone is running it; but if so, they oppose all that they stand for. There are occasional exceptions if the leaders are handicapped, minority, feminist, atheist dwarfs who also happen to be illegal aliens from any other country or galaxy; provided of course, that they are not Republicans.

11. The National Enquirer is read by people trapped in line at the grocery store.

12. The Key West Citizen is read by people who have recently caught a fish and need something to wrap it in.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Your lunch hour time waster

Harry Belafonte performing "Matilda" live in Stockholm, Sweden, March 31, 1966.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Hey, Michael: It's not a good sign when a strip club owner says you can't be trusted

Miami Beach strip club owner Leroy Griffith thinks Michael Góngora is untrustworthy...and other fun facts!

Really? (See next photo.)

Actual caption from Michael Góngora's website: "Norman Braman 
enthusiastically endorsed Michael for Mayor because 
he believes in his vision for Miami Beach."

Cartoon by Don Wright.
Miami News, Nov. 11, 1983.

(Click to enlarge.)


Rafael Andrade, registered lobbyist for
Tremont Towing and Beach Towing,
with mayoral candidate Michael Góngora. 
Commissioners Deede Weithorn, Jorge Exposito, and Michael Góngora, who is now a candidate for mayor, voted with Wolfson to give the two [towing] companies their rate hike at the November 2012 meeting. "People are doing something bad," Góngora said. "This is essentially punishment for people parking in residential zones and parking where they shouldn't park." - Miami New Times, Aug. 8, 2013.


Your early afternoon time waster

True Facts About The Tarsier.

And now, from the paper that still doesn't have a full-time police reporter...

Click here to enlarge.
....comes a story on page one of this morning's paper with the headline, "Armed bandits testing Haiti’s understaffed police forces."

This from a newspaper that hasn't had a full-time reporter covering South Florida cops and crime since David Ovalle was reassigned to cover courts a few years ago.

So, to trick readers into thinking the paper was still covering crime, the Herald instituted the practice of cutting and pasting crime stories from TV station websites.

But the paper's bosses always seem to be able to find the resources to cover crime on an island almost 700 miles from the paper's Doral headquarters. This despite the fact they can't seem to scrounge up a reporter to cover an important press conference at police headquarters that's a mere 4-minute drive from their building.

This from a newspaper that's losing paid subscribers at an unprecedented rate.  But, ask anyone in charge at the paper why they're losing thousands subscribers a month, and you'll probably be answered with a blank stare.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Your lunch hour time waster

Posting something a little different today...

Eldad Hagar rescues abandoned, neglected dogs.

He's posted more than 160 dog rescue videos on his You Tube page.

But once the dogs are rescued, he's just getting started.

He somehow manages to rehabilitate even the most severely abused and neglected animals, before finding them homes.

Here's his Facebook page.

And his website.

If you have the means to help him out, please consider doing so.

Miami Herald celebrates the 100-year history of Joe's Stone Crab ... but buries the unpleasant stuff

Click here to enlarge. 
Congratulations to the gang at South Beach landmark restaurant Joe's Stone Crab as they open for the season today at 5 p.m. while also celebrating the joint's 100th anniversary.

Congratulations also to Joe's chief operating officer Steve Sawitz on the free advertisement the fine story on page one of this morning's Miami Herald.

Here's last year's Herald story on the opening of Joe's...which also mentioned that Joe's was "gearing up for its 100th anniversary celebration."

Today's breezy story by Ina Paiva Cordle touches on a bit of Joe's 100-year history: Joe Weiss "started running a lunch stand at Smith’s bathing casino in 1913, serving fish sandwiches and fries."

But there's no mention it's not until the last few paragraphs of her story that Cordle mentions a 1993 "EEOC lawsuit alleging that Joe’s failed to hire female servers" for the last few paragraphs of her story. But she leaves out details like a U.S. District Judge's 1997 ruling "that the South Beach restaurant 'intentionally discriminated' against women between 1986 and 1991. During that period, Joe's hired 108 men for its coveted server positions and no women." [Miami Herald, March 29, 2001]

There's also nothing on a 2000 appeals court ruling that "found evidence that 'Joe's management intentionally excluded women from food-serving positions in order to provide its customers with an 'Old World,' fine-dining ambience.'" [Miami Herald, March 29, 2001]


Miami Daily News, Dec. 28, 1955.

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Old Stuff - New York City, Aug. 26, 1970

Here are some images I found in the New York City section of my photographic files as I continue sorting and organizing almost 50 years of prints and negatives.

I shot these at a massive demonstration in Manhattan on Aug. 26, 1970 that was called to mark the 50th anniversary of the constitutional ratification of women’s right to vote.

Keep checking back for more news on what I plan to do with my collection.

Click all horizontal images to enlarge.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Sunrise police chief John Brooks kicks his drug habit!

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John Brooks was appointed chief of the Sunrise Police Department in September 2007.

Brooks came to the Sunrise PD from the Broward Sheriff's Office where he'd served since May 2000. Prior to that Brooks had been a member of the Miami Police Department since 1975, rising to the rank of assistant chief before his retirement in 2000.

Not long after his appointment as chief, Brooks must have looked around his town of some 85,000 residents and said to himself, "Damn, there isn't enough crime and there aren't enough criminals here to keep us busy. Let's import some!"

So he got busy.

Last Sunday, the Sun-Sentinel reported that Sunrise undercover detectives have for years been luring drug dealers and buyers "from as far north as Canada and as far south as Peru" to Sunrise where they negotiated "the sale of kilos of cocaine in popular family restaurants, [and busting] the buyers and seiz[ing] their cash and cars."
SUNRISE — Police in this suburban town best known for its sprawling outlet mall have hit upon a surefire way to make millions. They sell cocaine.

Undercover detectives and their army of informants lure big-money drug buyers into the city from across the United States, and from as far north as Canada and as far south as Peru. They negotiate the sale of kilos of cocaine in popular family restaurants, then bust the buyers and seize their cash and cars.

Police confiscate millions from these deals, money that fuels huge overtime payments for the undercover officers who conduct the drug stings and cash rewards for the confidential informants who help detectives entice faraway buyers, a six-month Sun Sentinel investigation found.

Police have paid one femme fatale informant more than $800,000 over the past five years for her success in drawing drug dealers into the city, records obtained by the newspaper show.  
Undercover officers tempt these distant buyers with special discounts, even offering cocaine on consignment and the keys to cars with hidden compartments for easy transport. In some deals, they’ve provided rides and directions to these strangers to Sunrise.

Today, the Sun-Sentinel reports that the Sunrise PD will no longer "lure out-of-town drug buyers into Sunrise to purchase cocaine."
A money-making venture to lure out-of-town drug buyers into Sunrise to purchase cocaine from police has been halted as a result of a Sun Sentinel investigation.

Mayor Michael Ryan, who supports the undercover stings, lay blame for ending the operation on the newspaper's reporting techniques. He said the paper exposed police tactics and strategy and compromised the work.

Ryan did not express concerns about cocaine buyers being lured into the city and closing deals in such public locations as parking lots and family restaurants. In a statement to the paper, he said he was told by police that the public has never been in danger.

The mayor did not address huge overtime payments to undercover officers and lucrative rewards to a network of secret informants.

So what does Chief Brooks think of the Sun-Sentinel outing his department?
Brooks has remained silent on the controversy, letting any response come from his staff or from the commission, to which he reports. He's repeatedly denied requests for comment from the Sun Sentinel before publication and after, and he hung up on a reporter Thursday.

Brooks is not the first South Florida police chief to fall victim to the siren call of millions of dollars in drug cash.

Last March, Bal Harbour police chief Tom Hunker was fired from his job after it was alleged that he misspent "millions of dollars [his department] received through a federal forfeiture program. The Justice Department also alleged that Hunker abused his position for personal benefit."

This is not the first time Brooks has found himself in the media spotlight.

In 2006, when he was a major in the Broward Sheriff's Office, Brooks was forced to apologize after a video tape surfaced showing him and Broward deputies making fun of protesters at the 2003 Free Trade Area of the Americas summit in Miami.
"I just keep thinking back on the events ... the rocks and chunks of bricks that were coming at us and all of a sudden you hear pop, pop, pop, pop, pop," [Brooks] said on the tape, referring to the sound of guns firing rubber bullets and pepper spray pellets. "That weapon saved us a lot of injuries."

One deputy handed [Brooks] a black cloth that could have been a hood or facemask "from one of the scurrying cockroaches," the deputy said, referring to the protesters.

"This is going in my office forever," Brooks replied, "and it's going to bring some very good memories."

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Have you seen Aminda Marqués Gonzalez?
Neither have the people who work with her.

In May of 2011 - just six months after Aminda “Mindy”' Marqués Gonzalez was promoted to the position of executive editor at the Miami Herald, the St. Petersburg Times reported that the Herald's average daily circulation for the previous 12 months was 173,555.

Yesterday, we reported - based on data supplied by the Miami Herald - that the paper's average daily circulation for the previous 12 months, had slipped to a low of 98,649 copies.

That's a loss of close to 75,000 copies since Marqués Gonzalez has been in charge. The Sunday numbers are even more abysmal.

The circulation figures published yesterday by the Herald, confirm what many South Florida media watchers have known for quite a while: The Herald's circulation is tanking rapidly, with no signs of a reversal in sight.

In any other industry, the person in charge usually takes the blame for a company's poor performance. And, perhaps the big shots at the Herald's parent company, McClatchy would call Marqués Gonzalez in on the carpet to ask why the paper she runs is performing so poorly.

Yeah, they might do that...but first they'd have to find her.

According to my sources, at One Herald Plaza One Doral Plaza, Marqués Gonzalez is rarely around.

"She's a leader in name only," one frustrated staffer told me. "She's never here."

"This place is like the Exxon Valdez; there's no one at the helm," said another staffer.

With that in mind, Random Pixels is launching a campaign that will hopefully lead to the discovery of Marqués Gonzalez's hiding place and her eventual return to the paper.

Get busy, South Florida!

Click here to enlarge.