Thursday, January 30, 2014

John Buhrmaster named deputy chief of Miami Beach Police Department

John Buhrmaster.
John Buhrmaster, a deputy commander at the Miami Beach Police Department, has been named deputy chief.

Miami Beach police chief Raymond Martinez announced Buhrmaster's promotion Thursday afternoon.

Buhrmaster had been in charge of the department's Internal Affairs unit for about a year.

He fills a vacancy left by former deputy chief Mark Overton, who quit late last year to become Bal Harbour's top cop.

Buhrmaster joined the MBPD in October 2012 after retiring from the Miami Police Department where he'd been a cop since 1974.

He spent 25 years as a detective in Miami PD's homicide unit, 8 of those years as the unit's commander.


(More) musical chairs at the Miami Herald

The promotion last month of Nancy Ancrum to the position of editorial page editor at the Herald left a vacancy that needed to be filled...from inside the paper, of course.

And that means but one thing: It's time for another round of musical chairs at the Miami Herald.

From: Ancrum, Nancy
Date: Wed, Jan 29, 2014 at 5:44 PM
Subject: Editorial Board opening
To: MIA Newsroom

The Editorial Board wants to fill out its ranks with an experienced journalist who:

1. is a strong opinion writer -- or who can become one very quickly. In addition, the successful candidate will have the ability to get up to speed on a variety of local, national and hemispheric issues in a flash.

2. has solid copy-editing and reporting skills. The ability to handle opeds and write pithy headlines is a plus.

3. is willing to go to where the newsmakers are making news. The Board wants to return to the days when its members attended School Board and commission meetings and other newsworthy events to better inform its editorials.

4. is eager to take the lead in helping the Board develop social media and online initiatives. We want to claim a more-substantial piece of the Herald’s online traffic, and we need someone who knows what the heck he or she is doing!

If you’re interested, send me a note and we’ll go from there.

Nancy Ancrum

But wait, we have more Miami Herald personnel news from Doral!

From: Hirsch, Rick
Date: Thu, Jan 30, 2014 at 12:11 PM
Subject: Changing reporting responsibilities for Glenn Garvin
To: MIA Newsroom


We’re pleased to announce that Glenn Garvin will be shifting his reporting focus from television to local news reporting, with a sub-beat of transportation.

Glenn Garvin, former Miami
critic and
french fry taste tester.
Photo by Al Diaz.
This isn't an easy change to make, but it is an important one. We believe Glenn can bring energy and breadth to our daily report as we try to shift resources to coverage areas people can't get from other national and local sources. In this new role, he'll do general assignment enterprise as well as drill down on a topic very important to the daily life of our readers. He will continue to report to Jay Ducassi.

Over the years, Glenn has done exceptional work at the Herald in a variety of roles, from Broward reporter to international desk copy editor to Latin America correspondent to television critic and columnist. He is a gifted writer, reporter and storyteller, whose work reflects humor, passion and perspective.

Please congratulate him on this new assignment.

Rick Hirsch
Managing Editor
The Miami Herald
3511 NW 91 Ave.
Miami, Fl., 33172

Winter storm causes big problems in the deep South

Photo from the Boston Globe's Big Picture blog.

Camping out at an Atlanta Publix.

(Click here to see more photos.)

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Budweiser's Super Bowl ad has Clydesdales and adorable puppies

Question of the day: Why is it that Budweiser makes such great ads, but their beer still tastes like carbonated dishwater?

Budweiser Super Bowl XLVIII Commercial, Puppy Love, puppies

Your lunch hour time waster

Yoga with a Chihuahua.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

HistoryMiami has lots of history...too bad you'll never see any of it

Stuart Chase, 
director, HistoryMiami. 
On its website, HistoryMiami describes its mission this way: "HistoryMiami is the premier cultural institution committed to gathering, organizing, preserving and celebrating Miami’s history as the unique crossroads of the Americas."

Another section of the museum's website boasts, "The picture archives contain 1.1 million images of southeast Florida, the entire state and the Caribbean. Photographs of Miami-Dade County date from 1883 to the present."

What HistoryMiami doesn't say on its website is that everyone who works at the museum is also committed to making sure you never see, much less get your hands on, any of those 1 million photographs or other images.

I know. I've tried.

Last October, I contacted Stuart Chase, the museum's director and chief operating officer.

I told Chase that I was looking to get some low resolution scans of photographs from their archives for use on my blog devoted to Miami history.

During our conversation I explained that I was retired and living on a fixed income, and that my blog was a labor of love and not a money making endeavor.

Bottom line, I told him that I had no money to pay for images. But, I added, I was trying to determine what to do with my personal archive of photographs and negatives that dated back to the mid-60s.

Should HistoryMiami help me with my needs, then I would consider donating my archives to the museum.

A few days later I spelled all this out in a detailed email.

Chase got back to me a few weeks later with this response...which he CC'd to four HistoryMiami staffers: "My colleagues and I will review your request and I will get back to you with a reply. Thanks for your consideration."

But he never got back to me.

Despite three or four folow-up phone calls, and an equal number of emails, Chase's response was always the same: Crickets.

Finally, three months after my initial contact, Chase emailed me this morning: "Bill: Please refer to our standing policies and fee structure for use of images from our collection. We’re happy to have you visit and select multiple images for your use in advance. Thank you, Stuart."

Chase, apparently, had neither absorbed nor retained any of what I had told him.

After three months of stonewalling, I've reached one conclusion: despite its name, the staff at HistoryMiami care nothing about the history of Miami. Chase, and his colleagues are incompetent.

Twenty-five years ago, after the Miami News ceased publication, the newspaper donated its entire archive of photographs to the museum. But a quarter century later, almost none of those images are available on HistoryMiami's website.

There are dozens of websites that do make their photographs available in some form to anyone with a computer.

The Library of Congress has an archive of more than 13 million photographs; and 95% of those can be viewed at the Library's online catalog.

Want to see what Flagler Street and Miami Avenue looked like in the early 1900s? There's an amazing photograph available on the Library's website.

If you're interested in more Florida history, the State Library and Archives of Florida has a website where you can view over 180,000 digitized photographs.

In the Florida Keys, the Monroe County Library maintains a Flickr page with more than 16,000 digitized images.

Elsewhere, the New York Public Library Digital Gallery "provides free and open access to over 800,000 images."

And from time to time, posts some great old photos of Miami and Miami Beach.

So, if you'd like to learn more of Miami's history, my advice is simple: Steer clear of HistoryMiami.

The people who work there care nothing about Miami's history. They care about one thing: collecting a paycheck.

Your lunch hour time waster

Lion sneaks up on Alabama TV reporter.

Pete Seeger | May 3, 1919 - January 27, 2014

When the Herald gets it right

One of my Facebook friends sent me this message the other day: "Do you ever say anything positive about the Herald??"

As a matter of fact, I do.

Here are some Miami Herald stories that I like a lot.


In a story posted on the Herald's website Monday, Chuck Rabin and Carli Teproff examine the sad case of Alexandre Nicolas, the 20 year-old man who was pulled over by police this past weekend for allegedly driving a stolen car.

Cops got him out of the car and handcuffed him. It was then, Rabin and Teproff write, that he "sprinted across at least eight lanes of busy traffic on Biscayne Boulevard, leaped into a canal on the west side of the road, and drowned."

One TV station covered the story with three sentences and about a minute of video tape.

Rabin and Teproff dig a little deeper:
Nicolle Garcia knew Nicolas well. The Florida Atlantic University communications student said she would have had a hard time turning down Nicolas’ request to attend the high school prom with him.

First, he posted a sweet, breezy and jazzy three-minute video of himself playing piano and singing a song to her titled The Proposal. The video was recorded in the high school auditorium. He asked her a second time over the school’s intercom system. The third successful attempt occurred when Nicolas interrupted Garcia’s biology class to ask her out, even as kids video taped the romance on their cell phones.

“That’s when I said yes,” Garcia said.

After graduating in 2012, the two drifted apart, running into each other occasionally. Garcia said she spotted Nicolas from a distance at Aventura Mall last week.

“Now I regret not going over,” she said.

Click here to read the complete story.


Herald columnist Fred Grimm joined the paper in 1976, and he's proof that old guys do it better. I can't recall Grimm ever writing a boring or poorly reported column.

In a column in this morning's paper, Grimm follows up on Patricia Mazzei's in-depth look at Miami-Dade's Third World taxi industry.
No one’s very optimistic that the county’s taxi industry might be forced to enter the 21st Century. That notion took a beating last fall when commissioners veered off from talk about deregulating the taxi industry and initiated a serious discussion about the merits of adopting used Ford Crown Victorias, even discarded police cruisers, for use as Miami-Dade taxicabs.

Ford stopped manufacturing Crown Vics back in 2011. Ancient Crown Vics, with “check engine” lights permanently illuminated, make a peculiar first impression for a community that wants to convince visitors they’ve just entered a modern, hip, shiny, high-tech metropolis.

Click here to read Grimm's column in its entirety.


My favorite kind of newspaper story is one that tells me something I didn't know.

Cammy Clark's page one story in Monday's paper is that kind of story.

Clark is the Herald's Florida Keys Bureau Chief.

What that really means is that she gets to do it all: write the stories, shoot the photos to go with her story, and on occasion, also shoot some video.

In a story that's currently the most popular on the Herald's website - and one that's generated some 160 comments - Clark writes about Big Pine Key resident and gun owner Doug Varrieur, a man who has turned the yard of his home into a makeshift firing range,

Is that legal? Turns out it's totally legal.
Last month, another frightening situation in Miami, in which he feared being carjacked while pumping gas, led him to purchase two new Smith and Wesson Bodyguard 380s, small-caliber guns with integrated lasers. One is for his wife, who has poor eyesight. Varrieur believes a gun with a laser will offer her more protection.

When the guns arrived, he reasoned he needed to find a place to shoot them in the Keys to calibrate the lasers.

“I was complaining to my gun shop owner that the nearest range from here is in Big Coppitt Key, which is 50 miles round trip, costs $45 an hour and is enclosed in a building with people shooting around you that you don’t know,” Varrieur said. “I told him in North Carolina, I could just go out to the gun range in my yard and fire my weapons, and it’s too bad you can’t do that in Florida, too.”

The gun shop owner told him that there were “rumors” that you could. It didn’t take Varrieur long to look up Florida statute 790.15, and he was surprised by what he found.

“I said to my wife: ‘Do you know the only rules to discharging firearms on residential property are that you can’t fire over a right-of-way of any paved public road, highway or street, you can’t fire over any occupied dwelling and you can’t fire recklessly or negligently?’ ” Varrieur said. “That’s it.”

Until 2011, the statute didn’t even include the part about firing “recklessly or negligently.” Exactly what that means, no one knows for sure. Patrick McCullah, general counsel for the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, said that at this point there is no case law at the appellate level that has interpreted the terms “recklessly or negligently” in the statute.

But what I really like about Clark's story, is that she took the time to shoot some video to go with her piece.

Video: Big Pine Key homeowner has gun range in his yard, and it's totally legal.

Click here to read the complete story.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Fabi Watch

In yesterday's Miami Herald, the paper's worst columnist, Fabiola Santiago, shared her thoughts on pop-idol Justin Bieber's Pine Tree Drive Meltdown.

But it wasn't so much a column as it was the horrible aftermath of someone who has just finished eating 3 or 4 bowls of Alpha-Bits and then regurgitated them all over a newspaper page. (Try to erase that hideous image from your head. )

In other words, the column was typical, only-at-The-Herald, Fabiola Santiago muddled gibberish.

Like this:
Unlike Bieber, however, who bonded out of jail (another bargain) after too-brief a stay and left waving goodbye to fans from atop an Escalade, when DUI charges are levied upon people without resources, there’s usually a different and unhappier outcome.
Towards the end of the column, Fabi offers words of comfort for the overwrought Bieber fans disciples who camped out at the jail, and later at the South Beach hotel where he took refuge after leaving jail:
Feverish Bieber believers, my condolences for the tears, the shakes and shrieks, the stand-by-your-man statements you’ve had to make these last two days. I know how you feel.
But, as you’ll probably learn soon enough, idolatry is seldom worth it. Life worked out much better for me when I got an education and developed a brain.
Fabi likes to remind her readers that she does have a brain.

After reading the column, one veteran Miami journalist told me, "When I read this the other day I thought -- 'she had six ideas for a Bieber column and decided to cram them all into one.'"

And a longtime Herald staffer told me: "That column was particularly superficial, sophomoric and scattershot. She's just not a deep thinker or a decent writer. You can cover up that stuff as a reporter but not as a columnist."

Another South Florida journalist emailed me: "I’ve pretty much given up on reading her columns."

Last November, Herald management announced that photographers, copy editors and columnists/critics would be eligible for something called a "Voluntary Separation Program."

Fabi was one of those eligible.

A few hours after the email announcing the program was sent out, Fabi made a rare appearance in the Herald newsroom and told anyone who cared to listen that she wasn't going anywhere.

I guess that means Fabi's going to be puking her special brand of Alpha-Bits all over the Herald's page 1B for quite some time.

But they can't figure out why readers are leaving in droves.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Attorney Mark Eiglarsh says 'Justin Bieber definitely received favorable treatment'

Miami Herald, page 1A, Jan. 24, 2014.

As everyone in South Florida probably knows by now, teen heart-throb, and Miley Cyrus look-alike, Justin Bieber, was arrested early Thursday morning by Miami Beach police and charged with driving under the influence, driving with a suspended license, and resisting arrest.

I watched most of the made-for-local-TV-news drama in real time - for professional reasons, of course.

But, quite frankly, I thought the amount of coverage afforded this snotty brat was way over the top. But I couldn't stop watching.

Shortly after 11 a.m. - about 7 hours after Bieber's arrest - I put up a post.

In it, I mentioned the speed at which Bieber appeared to sail through the jail booking process.
Bieber arrived at the jail at about 10:19 a.m., and jail officials set a new world's record, booking him within 17 minutes of his arrival, at 10:36 a.m.

I'm sure many in South Florida's legal community also noticed that the chronically dysfunctional Miami-Dade Corrections Department seemed to bend over backwards to accommodate the Beebs.

But, so far, only one attorney has spoken out publicly.

In a post on his blog, Miami criminal defense attorney Mark Eiglarsh writes that Bieber "definitely received favorable treatment."
Let's start with when the bond hearing took place. The strict jail rule followed daily is that all Miami inmates booked into the jail before 9 a.m. will appear before the judge on the afternoon bond calendar that same day. If, however, an inmate is booked after 9 a.m., he/she misses the cutoff and has to appear for bond hearing the following day. Bieber was booked into the jail at 10:30 a.m., well after the 9 a.m. cut off. That means he, like every other non-celebrity inmate should have been held at the jail for an additional day before appearing before the judge. That's huge! I've never seen that accommodation made for anyone in my two decades in the criminal justice arena.

The most significant difference between how Bieber was treated vs. the average inmate was in the amount of time it took from his bond hearing to when he was released. I watched in utter shock and amazement when Bieber exited the jail. I could not believe how little time elapsed from the time the judge set the bond to the time he regained his liberty and was posing for the huge crowd outside the jail. Stunned! This wasn't just fast, this was Usain Bolt, cheetah, lightning, Michael Phelps fast.
I've never seen or heard of any other inmate leaving jail so quickly after their bond was announced. It typically takes a number of hours after bond hearing until an inmate can be processed and released. I'm still in disbelief.

The way we were...the day the cops and drug dealers switched places

Fake officers arrested by fake drug dealers

Associated Press

June 11, 1988

MIAMI - Police officers disguised as drug dealers busted drug dealers disguised as police officers in a sting operation capped by a car chase, two crashes and 20 gunshots.

The shoot-out occurred Thursday in the crowded parking lot of Miami International Mall near the city's airport, but no one was hurt.

The incident began with a reverse sting designed to catch three men federal drug agents initially thought were corrupt police officers, said Jack Hook, spokesman for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Only after the men were arrested did agents learn that the suspects had been impersonating police to rip off drug dealers, Hook said.

Agents had set up a deal to sell about 65 pounds of cocaine to the suspects at the mall. Two undercover officers were waiting in a car when two of the suspects arrived.

''They pulled up behind the car, drew their guns and said they were Metro cops,'' Hook said. ''One of the undercover people was handcuffed, and both were taken out of the car.''

Then about 20 DEA agents and eight police officers moved in. The suspects opened fire, which was returned by police . Then the two suspects jumped into cars and drove off in opposite directions.

DEA agents gave chase, ramming the two cars to stop them. Arrested were Amado Lopez, 49, Juan Jose Ameneiro, 36, and Moises Naveira, 24, all of Miami , police said.

Hooks said the three will be charged with possession of cocaine, conspiracy to distribute cocaine and assault on federal law officers.
H/T: Craig Pittman


Palm Beach Post, June 11, 1988.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

HOLY CRAP!! Justin Bieber arrested!!

Justin Drew Bieber, 
Jail Number: 140003991.
Photo by Miami-Dade Corrections Portrait Studio.

In case you missed it, Justin Bieber was arrested this morning in Miami Beach. Something about driving drunk and drag racing.

And, it wasn't long before some of Miami's better-dressed journalists showed up at the Miami Beach police station to cover The Big Story!

Sheldon Fox of WSVN commits a fashion felony
on live TV at the Miami Beach PD.

(Click all images to enlarge.)

If you watched any of the coverage, you knew immediately that this was huge news evidenced by the fact that Miami Beach's top cop, his own self, Chief Ray Martinez, came out and addressed the hordes of journalists.

Miami Beach police chief Ray Martinez addresses the world. 

Chief Martinez didn't disappoint. He told the world just what an ass Bieber was this morning as cops tried to arrest him.

Martinez said Bieber was belligerent and that he even directed some "choice words" at arresting officers. You can read those "choice words" yourself in the official arrest form I've embedded below.

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

And then, shortly before 10 a.m., a police prisoner transport van emerged from the police department's garage and took the Beebs to jail.

And, I know this might be hard to believe, but every TV station town offered LIVE! coverage Bieber's ride to the lock-up.

Miami Beach police give Justin Bieber an
"authorized" police escort to the Miami-Dade County jail.

Bieber arrived at the jail at about 10:19 a.m., and jail officials set a new world's record, booking him within 17 minutes of his arrival, at 10:36 a.m.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

With 'Friends' like these....

Michael Peyton,
director of corporate
Friends of WLRN
Your contribution enables us to bring you the best in national and local programs, because all of the programs you love require significant investments on our part. Our national program schedules bring you the best from NPR, PBS, APM, PRI and others, but we pay high annual fees to obtain these programs on your behalf. Your direct financial support is essential.
When you make a contribution to Channel 17 or 91.3 WLRN, your funds have a direct and immediate impact on programming. Your support enables the continuous growth of the station to meet the challenges of technology and opportunity. And that's not the only reason to become a partner in our progress.  -About Friends of WLRN -


Alberto Carvalho,
County Schools
During a January meeting, [Miami-Dade school superintendent Alberto] Carvalho described compensation for Friends’ employees as “tantamount to insulting” in light of school salaries and the system’s budget problems, according to minutes.
Carvalho also objected that the Friends [of WRLN] staff rebuffed his requests for financial statements and other documents and disregarded his concerns about a proposed change to the nonprofit’s bylaws, according to the minutes.  -Gov’t officials critical of nonprofit Friends units, June 21, 2010 - via


It's been exactly four years since Miami-Dade schools superintendent Alberto Carvalho characterized the salaries of key personnel at Friends of WLRN, the non-profit fundraising arm of the school board-owned radio station, as “tantamount to insulting."

So, what's happened in the four years since he made those remarks?


Yesterday, Miami New Times staff writer Michael Miller reported that Michael Peyton, the director of corporate marketing for Friends, makes something in the neighborhood of $400,000 a year.

Now, Random Pixels has obtained IRS forms filed by Friends of WLRN that reveal Peyton and several of his colleagues at Friends have been paying themselves hefty salaries for quite some time.

Below, I've embedded IRS Form 990 filed by Friends beginning with the year 2009.

They make for interesting reading. Especially if you're a regular contributor to WLRN.

If you're a little pressed for time, you can see the juicy parts by scrolling down to Part VII of each form.

For instance Part VII, page 7 (see first embedded form) shows that Peyton's compensation for 2011 was $387,452.

Two of Peyton's colleagues, Jorge Perez-Alvarez and Patrick Harris, each made $145,772 and $146,203, respectively. (Who knew that working for a non-profit could be so profitable?)

Part IX, page 10 of the same form reveals some other interesting numbers. Page 10 (see partial screen shot below) is the section for listing something called "functional expenses."

It's in this section we also learn that the total compensation for that year, for "current officers, directors, trustees, and key employees" was an astounding $797,799.

In the space for "other salaries and wages" (line 7) we find the number $967,783. There's no breakdown of which employees at Friends got what part of that 967 thousand.

On line 9, we learn that Friends paid $164,852 for "other employee benefits."

Line 11g is reserved for expenses simply labeled "other." How much did Friends of WLRN pay for "other?" $195,394.

Total "functional expenses" for the year are listed at $7,935,297. It's unclear how much of that was used to pay for programming.

Transparency, as Superintendent Carvalho pointed out four years ago, is not Friends' strong suit.

I followed up on Mike Miller's New Times post yesterday, with a post of my own.

Today, I received this note from a reader, who is also prominent member of the community:
The “Friends of WLRN” raise money under, essentially, false pretenses — under the auspices of public radio and television programming — and then use that cash donated by the public to, among other things, pay pensions to their 14 employees. Meanwhile, the staff at the station, who the “Friends” are ostensibly raising the money for, are getting their hours cut so they don’t have to be provided any benefits. With “Friends” like these…

In my post, I also questioned why the Miami Herald has reported nothing on this. Almost immediately, one South Florida journalist sent this email:
Definitely interesting reading. Shameful that no one at the Herald is professional enough to say, we have to do this story and let the chips fall where they may.

WLRN IRS Form 990 (2011-2012)
Click here to enlarge.

Your early afternoon time waster

Meet Didga, a skateboarding cat from Australia.

Monday, January 20, 2014

And now...a little bit about the Miami Herald's cozy relationship with radio station WLRN [UPDATED 2x]

$$$ Michael Peyton, 
director of 
corporate marketing,
Friend$ of WLRN $$$
See UPDATES below.

Last month Miami New Times staff writer Michael Miller reported that...
Miami-Dade County Public Schools and [the school board-owned radio station] WLRN are both making serious cuts to part-time employee hours, supposedly because of Obamacare.

The cutback will affect "several hundred" school employees, including substitute teachers, custodians, and security guards, according to an MDCPS spokesman. Also seeing their hours slashed are part-time WLRN employees, some of whom are paid by the school district.
However, not everyone connected with WLRN was affected by the cuts. One of those, I reported, is WLRN's general manager, John Labonia.

Labonia, it turns out, lives in a half-million dollar home in Weston.

Meanwhile, WLRN staffers are struggling to make ends meet.

And, this morning, New Times' Michael Miller is reporting that Michael Peyton, the director of corporate marketing for Friends of WLRN, the private, non-profit entity that raises money for WLRN, "pulls in $400,000 a year."

According to his Linkedin profile, Peyton has been with WLRN for 20 years.


UPDATED at 2:35 p.m: A June, 2010 post on reported:
During a January meeting, [Miami-Dade school superintendent Alberto] Carvalho described compensation for Friends’ employees as “tantamount to insulting” in light of school salaries and the system’s budget problems, according to minutes.

"Carvalho didn’t identify the employees he referred to, but cited compensation detailed on the nonprofit’s tax returns. Michael Peyton, a senior sales rep who receives a commission for sales performance, earned more than $315,000 in 2007. Rick Lewis and Patrick Harris, a corporate sales rep, earned more than $120,000 each, according to the nonprofit’s tax returns.

Carvalho also objected that the Friends staff rebuffed his requests for financial statements and other documents and disregarded his concerns about a proposed change to the nonprofit’s bylaws, according to the minutes. [Editor's note: Carvalho's concerns were never reported on by the Miami Herald.]

"He makes that kind of money on the backs of other people," a WLRN staffer told Miller.

From Miller's New Times piece:
The discrepancy in pay is just one symptom of the strange relationship between WLRN and its fundraiser. "They are two separate, very distinct organizations," says Miami-Dade Schools spokesman John Schuster. "They have separate structures with distinct purposes, although at times their missions do overlap."

Few donors realize the difference. When WLRN holds a telethon, money donated doesn't go directly to the station. Instead, it belongs to Friends of WLRN, which can keep as much of it as it likes.
In other words, if you're a WLRN listener, and you pledge money to the station, Peyton and his cronies keep a huge chunk of your money for themselves.

New Times' Miller writes: "According to [Miami-Dade Schools spokesman John] Schuster, Friends contributes roughly $5.2 million to the radio station each year. Records show Friends spent nearly $1.8 million in salaries in 2011 -- the last year available -- including $700,000 for just three execs."

Meanwhile, a post on WLRN's website says that Friends of WLRN's "revenues for the current year are projected to reach $10 million."

UPDATE #2: See chart below to learn how your pledge money to WLRN is being spent. 

Source: Division of Consumer Services,
Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

So what does Peyton do with his handsome salary?

According to the Miami-Dade property appraiser's website, he owns a very nice home in the King's Bay neighborhood of Coral Gables.

His home, according to a real estate website, "is a single-family home with 5 bedrooms, 2 baths, and approximately 3,545 square feet. The average listing price for similar homes for sale [in the neighborhood] is $1,287,443 and the average sales price for similar recently sold homes is $900,750."

Earlier this month, Daniel Ricker, publisher of the "Watchdog Report," wrote this of Friends on his website:
School Board Chair Perla Tabares Hantman sponsored legislation that would require updates on “the actions and status of Friends [of WLRN] to members of the school board quarterly." 
Friends, the not for profit entity’s revenues are “projected to reach $10 million,” in contributions and corporate funding states the legislation heard at one of the board’s committees Wednesday.

Hantman, the longest [serving] member on the school board noted that there “had been some questions” about what was going on over at Friends over the years. She said the fund raising arm for WLRN radio and television with 500,000 weekly listeners from Palm Beach to Key West has “always been a mystery,” and to this day, she thought Friends “still is a mystery.” [See excerpt from Jan. 15, 2014 school board meeting embedded at the bottom of this post.]
If you're a news junkie, like me, by now you're probably asking yourself, "Why hasn't the Miami Herald, or the Herald's school board reporter, David Smiley, reported any of this?

Answer: Because they're M.I.A. (Missing in Action.)

A search of the Miami Herald archives turned up zero results for Michael Peyton, or any critical reporting on WLRN, for that matter.

The Herald and WLRN joined forces over 10 years ago. (Ironically, it was New Times staffer Rebecca Wakefield who broke the news in 2003 of the impending WLRN/Miami Herald partnership.)

Today the Herald and WLRN "work together through a partnership, but the news director works for South Florida Public Media, under the umbrella of WLRN," Herald managing editor Rick Hirsch told me last July.

And what that means is that you, as a news consumer, will almost never see anything negative written about WLRN in the pages of the Herald.

Example: In a Herald story published last November, Herald staffer Nancy Dahlberg wrote of "leadership changes" at WLRN.

Dahlberg wrote that Terence Shepherd had been appointed as the station's news director. What Dahlberg conveniently left out of her story was that Shepherd was replacing Dan Grech, who had been fired under mysterious circumstances just a few months earlier, something the Herald never reported.

It will be interesting to see if school board chairman Hantman follows up on her desire to learn more about the "mysterious" Friends of WLRN.

But whatever happens, I'm fairly certain you won't read about any of it in the pages of the Miami Herald.

Your lunch hour time waster

Cats stealing dog beds.

(Caution: Video may cause uncontrollable laughter.)

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Terrence McCoy is shocked, shocked! that Lauren Tannehill left her AR-15 in the trunk of a rental car

Terrence McCoy.
This morning on the Miami New Times blog Riptide 2.0, staff writer Terrence McCoy followed up on yesterday's news that Lauren Tannehill forgot an AR-15 in the trunk of a rental car with this juicy scoop: "Lauren Tannehill, Who Forgot Her AR-15 in a Rental Car, Is No Stranger to Guns."

In his piece, McCoy, a former Peace Corps volunteer, calls the AR-15 "one of the world's most dangerous assault rifles" and writes that "it's no surprise she had it in the first place. Lauren Tannehill loves a good gun." (Some of us do, Terrence.)

Lauren Tannehill. 
But if the mere thought of a "dangerous assault rifle" in the hands of a ditzy blonde isn't enough to scare the crap out of you, McCoy ratchets up the terror, writing, the AR-15 was "banned" in three states following the Sandy Hook school shooting.

In his thinly-reported piece, McCoy uses the term "assault rife," despite the fact that what actually constitutes an assault weapon is something not many agree on.

And McCoy bolsters his "scoop" that Tannehill is "no stranger to guns" by posting pictures of her **gasp** shooting guns.

But the entire premise of McCoy's piece seems to be that Tannehill is different than the rest of us because she forgot something in the trunk of a car.

Broward Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Keyla ConcepciĆ³n told the Sun-Sentinel: “Though dangerous if it would have landed in the wrong hands, it’s not criminal. [She] simply forgot it.” (McCoy conveniently omitted that quote from his story.)

Memo to Terrence: People forget shit all the time. Just Google "baby dies in hot car" for proof.

Need more proof? Last month some guy got out of a cab in Las Vegas and forgot $300,000 in a paper bag that was on the seat right beside him.

No, Terry...despite your best efforts to portray Lauren Tannehill as some crazed gun nut, nothing could be further from the truth.

Lauren Tannehill isn't crazy...she's just blonde.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The way we were...'Trustworthy man' needed

Less than four years after Miami's incorporation, the Miami Metropolis called on the City Council to hire a "trustworthy" night watchman.

Miami Metropolis, Jan. 12, 1900.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Bob Gabordi is America's worst newspaper editor

If you're a regular Random Pixels reader, then you know that I critique the Miami Herald from time to time.

And, on rare occasions, I sometimes employ a bit of hyperbole to make my points.

A recent example was when I called the Herald's two top editors, Mindy Marques and Rick Hirsch, "incompetent." And there was the time I characterized executive editor Mindy Marques as "America's worst newspaper editor."

I'm here to apologize to both Rick and Mindy.

Miami is fortunate to have both of you at the helm of the Miami Herald, South Florida's Number One Source for News and Information.

The reason I say that is because I believe I have found a person who is, in fact, America's Worst Newspaper Editor!

Bob Gabordi, executive editor,
Tallahassee Democrat.
Ladies and gentlemen, meet Bob Gabordi, executive editor of the Tallahassee Democrat.

One of my daily rituals is checking out the front pages of various newspapers at the Newseum's website.

Yesterday, while scanning some front pages of Florida's papers, I stumbled upon this: the Tallahassee Democrat's front page.

Tallahassee Democrat, Jan. 11, 2014. 

I've been visiting the Democrat's website for the past month or so.

And in that time I've reached one irrefutable conclusion: If you like journalism, but you're not necessarily a fan of a non-stop stream of insipid stories about the Seminoles - and you live in Tallahassee - you're screwed.

The Democrat's Saturday front page is incontrovertible proof of that.

Apparently the most important thing that happened in the state capital on Friday was that the crystal Coaches' trophy FSU got for its win over Auburn, went on display at "the Winn Dixie on South Magnolia Drive."

Not a Publix or a Whole Foods, mind you, but a Winn Dixie!

The shame!

Nevertheless, the Democrat's Sean Rossman was there to document all the excitement! 
Florida State football won the crystal Coaches’ Trophy Monday night in Pasadena, Calif. with its 34-31 win over Auburn.

Now the 34-inch tall, 45-pound trophy is on display in Tallahassee and fans got a live peek at the prize Friday afternoon at the Winn Dixie on South Magnolia Drive.

Hundreds of fans lined up outside the store to see the trophy, which gleamed near the seafood counter and among shoppers. Fans like 21-year-old Florida State junior Brianna Rodgers, still reeling from the big win, were able to get a picture with the 8-pound twinkling crystal ball. By day’s end, organizers said 2,800 people came by.

“It feels good,” she said
Rossman worked the crowd at the Winn Dixie, scribbling furiously as 'Noles fans, obviously overcome with emotion at seeing The Trophy right there next to the shrimp and scallops, offered up these nuggets:
When Kelvin Benjamin caught the game-winning touchdown, [Rodgers] threw her iPad and nearly broke down crying.

“It’s way bigger than I thought it was going to be,” she said of the crystal trophy.

Life-long FSU fan Tracy Harry stopped in to go shopping and was shocked to find her ’Noles’ trophy in the middle of the store.

“Oh my gosh, this is awesome,” Harry said. “Very exciting.”
Yes...that drivel actually made it to the front page of an American newspaper.

The Democrat's Bob Gabordi, in addition to being the paper's executive editor, is also the president of the Florida Society of News Editors.

That may not seem like a big deal.

But here's Gabordi, a professional journalist, acting as a shill sales manager for a book on the 'Noles' BCS championship season:
Orders were already being taken for the book and first shipments were expected to begin 24 to 48 hours later. To order a copy, go to It cost $24.95 for the hardcover and $14.95 for the softcover version. In all, 128 pages and more than 100 color photographs, plus columns and articles from the season. It is gorgeous and tells a great story of this special season.

And here's Gabordi talking about his favorite newspaper editor, Bob Gabordi:
I was editor of my college newspaper when I got to interview President Jimmy Carter, whose wife, Rosalynn Carter, was later my mentor in a Gannett management development program.

I’ve interviewed Bob Hope and Robert Redford and Hillary Clinton and Marco Rubio. Chad Pennington, former Marshall and New York Jets quarterback, interned at my newspaper in Huntington, W.Va. Heck, I’ve met Ronald Reagan and Willie Mays, for goodness sake.
And last November, shortly after the rape case against FSU quarterback Jameis Winston was reopened, Gabordi dropped any guise of journalistic impartiality by unashamedly declaring who he was rooting for.

In a Nov. 14 column Gabordi wrote: "Meanwhile, I’ll continue to cheer for Jameis Winston and the Seminoles and hope that he is cleared quickly and decisively."

Last Tuesday, the day after FSU's victory over Auburn, Gabordi ignored the long-standing tradition of keeping a newspaper's editorial and business departments separate, instructing his reporters to pitch in and take phone orders for the Tuesday edition of the Democrat.
The clerks out front couldn’t keep up. Two interns arriving for their first day of work were pressed into service. Then it went building-wide: Reporters, ad sales people, finance administrators began fielding phone calls, taking credit card numbers and processing orders for posters, newspapers and books.

(Award-winning investigative reporter Jennifer Portman was the leader in the newsroom, evincing a natural gift for salesmanship that suggested her salad days included a turn as telemarketing specialist, though she denies it.)
The onslaught continued all week. Even on Friday, you could find two to three people in line when you ventured into the lobby.
What the writer of that piece - Democrat senior writer Gerald Ensley - didn't mention is that maybe the "onslaught" of people who came through the Democrat's front door on Tuesday, did so because they don't get the paper delivered at home.

And who can blame them?

The Tallahassee Democrat under Bob Gabordi's leadership, may not be the worst paper in the country, but it damn sure is the poorest excuse for a newspaper in the state of Florida.

However, I'm reminded that even a broken clock is right twice a day.

Last year, under Gabordi's leadership, the Democrat published a series of stories about police brutality in the Tallahassee Police Department that forced the police chief out and prompted a grand jury investigation.

In a column, Gabordi said a scrap of video of officers arresting a 44-year-old woman last August on a DUI charge was difficult to watch, and so upset him that he couldn't eat lunch. That set the tone for all the rest of the Democrat's coverage and editorials.

Ultimately, the Leon County grand jury ended up taking no action.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Your TGIF time waster

Lucy the beagle helps herself to some chicken nuggets left in a 325 degree oven!

Thursday, January 09, 2014

50 years ago this week...

Sept. 11, 1963: U.S. Surgeon General issues a report that links cigarette smoking to cancer.

Miami News, Jan. 11, 1964. 


NPR: 50 Years After Landmark Warning, 8 Million Fewer Smoking Deaths

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Miami Herald to readers: 'We're sorry, your call cannot be completed as dialed'

It's easier to order a pizza by phone in Miami than it is to get a 24/7 Information Specialist to answer the phone at the Miami Herald.

But let's say you don't want a pizza. Let's say you merely want to call the paper with a news tip.

Good luck with that.

Here's part of an email I received yesterday:
Hey Bill,

I stumbled across your blog while trying to find a contact in the features department at the Herald. I have been attempting to reach someone there for the past several weeks with no success.

If you have any suggestions on who to contact, I’d appreciate hearing from you.


That's right...people are now writing to me because they can't get anyone to answer the phone at the Herald.

So, being the helpful guy I am, I replied to the writer and supplied her with a few email addresses and the number for the features department.

Today, I told a former Herald staffer about the email.

"You should conduct a little experiment," the former staffer said.

"Try calling the Herald's main number, 305-350-2111, follow the instructions and see what happens," this person told me.

So I called.

When you dial the main number you're told to press 1 for English.

Then a voice instructs, "If you know your party's extension or to dial by name press 1 now."


Then the voice says "If you know your party's four-digit extension you may dial it at any time. For a company directory, press 9 and the # sign."

So, I pressed 9. And that's when the fun began.

I punched in the last name of Howard Cohen, the Herald's occasional music critic and newly-appointed obituary writer.

A friendly female voice instructed me to "press 1 for Randy Cohen, press 2 for... and then a voice popped up, "Hi, this is Craig Nienaber on the metro desk at the Kansas City Star."


I hung up and called back repeated the steps to get Howard.

This time I was given a half dozen choices...but none of them would have connected me to Howard. At one point, I was even given the choice to call one Nick Angiulo, an account manager at the Sacramento Bee.

But I decided to soldier on.

I called back and punched in the name "Andres," for my old friend, reporter Andres Viglucci. The "voice" instructed to press 1 for Andres Lopez at the Macon Telegraph.

Okay, I said to myself, maybe I'm doing something wrong.

I hung up and called back, this time punching in managing editor Rick Hirsch's last name. "I'm sorry, I don't recognize that name," the friendly lady told me.

So, I tried again, this time punching in the letters "h-i-r-s" instead. Success!

"Hi, this is Caty Hirst, Fort Worth city hall reporter. Please leave a message."

I called Lee Williams, the managing editor of the Ft. Worth Star Telegram, who confirmed that Caty Hirst, does indeed, work for his paper. Not the Miami Herald.

He also told me that callers to his paper's main number are also presented with the same options...a list of names of every person in the McClatchy newspaper chain.

The Herald voice mail mystery was solved.

So, the next time you call the Herald, you may not be able to reach anyone in the newsroom, but if you push the right buttons, you may get to speak to that guy Craig in Kansas City.

Frankie the pooch jumps into Biscayne Bay and dog-paddles his way into our hearts


Saturday, January 04, 2014

Rearranging deck chairs at the Miami Herald


Good news and bad news.

The Good: The bosses at the Miami Herald have finally decided to appoint someone to fill the long-vacant position of police reporter.

Hopefully that means the Herald will now abandon the practice of copying and pasting crime stories from CBS4's website.

And in the email below, Herald managing editor Rick Hirsch also announces that he's found someone to replace obit writer Elinor Brecher who retired last September.

The Bad: Now the Herald has to find two people to replace the positions left vacant with the new appointments.

Put another way: the game of musical deck chairs on the Titanic continues.

Some advice for those who remain at the Herald: Now might be a good time to get reacquainted with the route to your lifeboat station.

From: Hirsch, Rick
Date: Thu, Jan 2, 2014 at 2:02 PM
Subject: Yearwood to oversee Issues and Ideas, new police reporter, obituary writer
To: MIA Newsroom


We're pleased to announce important new assignments in the newsroom that begin with the new year.

John Yearwood, our world editor, will be adding the planning and editing of the Sunday Issues and Ideas section to his portfolio. Issues is a section that rates high in all our reader surveys, and John's expertise on world and national affairs make him a natural to guide this section.

In addition, two key reporters, Chuck Rabin and Howard Cohen, will be taking on new assignments.

Chuck Rabin.
Chuck will become our new day police reporter, covering breaking crime news and enterprise on this most lively beat. It's a key job on our Continuous News Desk, and one well suited to Chuck's hustle, knowledge of Miami and ability to develop sources up and down the line.

In a Herald career that began in the old composing room while he studied journalism at the University of Miami, Chuck has covered cities and communities for Neighbors, worked as a GA, written a column (You Got A Problem?), and covered the city of Miami and Miami-Dade County.

Chuck will report to Jeff Kleinman.

Howard will become our new obits writer/GA, also reporting to Jeff and the Continuous News Desk.

Howard Cohen.
In that role, Howard will call upon his storytelling ability and the knowledge he's gained in covering a wide variety of topics and people in South Florida since joining The Herald in 1991. Over the years, Howard has covered music, health and fitness and music for Features and Neighbors.

A Miami native (Howard graduated from Christopher Columbus High and the University of Miami), Howard is an encyclopedia of Miami people, places and events. He's simply a natural for this job.

These moves create two openings on our Metro Desk that we want to fill quickly:

-- A county government reporter keenly focused on how the largest county government in the Southeast spends its money, partnering with county government/politics reporter Pati Mazzei. The reporter in this role will look hard how county government works -- from hiring to contracts -- minding the pennies and the big dollars, from salaries to expenses to pensions. If you are interested, contact me or Jay Ducassi. There is a preferred candidate.

-- A municipal reporter to cover key cities in South Dade. This job requires a reporter who can develop sources on a beat, understand budgets and how governments work, and report and write a mix of daily stories and enterprise for Neighbors, Local News and Page 1. If you are interested, contact Joan Chrissos or Scott Andron.

Please join us in congratulating Chuck, Howard and John.


Rick Hirsch
Managing Editor
The Miami Herald
3511 NW 91 Ave.
Miami, Fl., 33172