Friday, June 27, 2014

Violence in Liberty City: Is there an end in sight? History says, 'no.'

Click to enlarge.


"This project will be one of the greatest blessings that Miami ever had. It will not only eliminate the possibility of fatal epidemics here, but also fix it so we can get a servant freed from disease." -John Gramling, October 17, 1934.

Last Tuesday's mass shooting that left two dead and 7 wounded at an apartment building across the street from the crime-infested Pork and Beans housing project "was at least the 13th shooting [in the Liberty Square neighborhood] since 2009," according to the Miami Herald's Chuck Rabin.

Things weren't always so bad in Liberty Square - the housing project's official name - or the adjacent neighborhoods.

One Miami resident once called Liberty Square a "showplace."

But in 2014 it's become so dangerous that Miami Police officers have been warned not to respond to calls there without back-up.

Somewhere along the way - no one is sure why - the residents started calling the place "The Pork and Beans."

When Liberty Square opened in 1936 to 243 African-American families, things were much different. The Miami Daily News praised the project for its "sanitation and light and air and a harmony of simple architecture."

But Liberty Square's beginnings weren't the result of some magnanimous gesture on the part of white Miami.

In fact, the housing project was the brainchild of a wealthy former judge and successful Miami attorney named John Gramling who was concerned that Miami's blacks were living in "a cesspool of disease." His worry was, that as servants, they might carry their diseases into the homes of the "White people of Greater Miami."

In 1988, Paul S. George and Thomas K. Peterson wrote a paper entitled "Liberty Square: 1933-1987. The Origins and Evolution of a Public Housing Project."
The First Administration of Franklin Roosevelt was barely nine months old when in December 1933, Miami attorney John Gramling, along with six other lawyers and businessmen, formed the Southern Housing Corporation for the purpose of developing a "negro colony" on one hundred and twenty acres of land on Miami's northern outskirts.Their inspiration was the recently-created United States Reconstruction Finance Corporation, which provided low-interest loans for slum clearance and the construction of low-income housing for the poor. The application of the newly formed corporation stated the problem:
The only site on which a negro might live in the City of Miami is in what now is known as negrotown in the heart of Miami.That area consists of 343 acres of land and according to theUnited States census of 1930, there are 25,116 colored persons living in that area. This population is living in one-story negro shacks and there are from three to fifteen shacks on a city lot of 50'x 150'. The sanitary conditions are a menace to the whole city. The living conditions are inconceivable and are a shame and a disgrace to the responsible citizens of Miami. This area is principally owned by white people who have erected these small shacks and get exhorbitant rent from them so that they pay for themselves every two to three years... Many houses have no toilets connected with the house, no bathrooms, nor bathing facilities...
John Gramling
Gramling, a former municipal Judge and prominent attorney who arrived in Miami in 1906 from Alabama and the beneficiary of early and lucrative investments in Miami public utilities, seemed an unlikely champion of the impoverished and overcrowded residents of Colored Town, the city's first Black community. Yet irrespective of the purity of his motivations, his message was powerful. The principal concern, stated emphatically and repeatedly in correspondence from Miami to the Housing Section of the Public Works Administration (PWA) in Washington as well as in the press, was the threat of the transmission of disease by servants to the white homes in which they were employed. [Emphasis mine] In one of his innumberable letters to the PWA, Gramling wrote of the high incidence of tuberculosis in the negro quarters: "From this cesspool of disease the white people of Greater Miami draw their servants." [Emphasis mine]

The weekly (Miami) Friday Night, on January 12, 1934, sounded the same theme in no uncertain terms:
The people who hire negroes in their homes should come forth with their protest. A protest against allowing the maid that cares for their children, the cook that prepares their food, and the wash woman that does their clothes, from bringing into their homes the disease germs that flourish in the present negro district. 
Two days later, apparently in step with the submission of the application of the Southern Housing Corporation to Washington, a Miami Herald editorial echoed the same theme:
Lovers of Miami have long decried the condition in which the colored people here are compelled to live. Attention has been led, frequently, to conditions that are not only a source of embarrassment but are actually a health menace to the entire population...With the help of the P.W.A. it might be possible that conditions in colored town could be materially improved. 


Miami Daily News, Oct. 16, 1936.

Almost eighty years after Liberty Square first opened, it's no longer being called a "showplace" by anyone. Today, it's a breeding ground for crime and violence with one generation of criminal picking up bad habits from those who came before them.

The Pork and Beans housing project today.
(Click here to enlarge)

Last Tuesday's violence was just more proof that there's no end in sight. High rates of unemployment and poverty, drug use, a lack of effective community leadership, and a violent criminal element with nothing to lose, have, over decades, transformed Liberty City and the Pork and Beans into a hellhole. Or perhaps a more accurate description would be, a ticking time-bomb.


In a 48-page preliminary report released today, the anti-white violence in the Miami riot was called ''unprecedented in this century.'' It added that not since the slave uprisings before the Civil War had blacks risen spontaneously with the sole purpose of beating or killing whites. New York Times, May 17, 1981


Eddie Williams pushed a shopping cart full of kids through Liberty Square. They are his kids: Tanisha, 1; Denard, 2; Terrell, 3; and Tasha, 4.

Williams wants to move his wife and children out of Metro --Dade's public housing complex and into his own house in a better neighborhood.

"It's rough. Everywhere you go, you find wrong," said 32- year-old Williams, who has lived in the project for seven years. "If I get them away from around here, I'll feel much better."

Fifty years ago, Liberty Square was the kind of neighborhood where blacks wanted to live. Like Williams, many now want to move out.

Age has caught up with Liberty Square. When it was built in 1936 for $1 million, the 243 apartments, with their cream- colored walls and gray and white roofs, were symbols of housing progress for Miami's black community.

Today, the grass is overgrown, trash spills out of garbage bins and rots in the sun, graffiti is scrawled across dirty walls and paint peels from the ceilings of many apartments. Liberty Square is old.

It was beautiful when it was dedicated Oct. 15, 1936.

"It was really a showplace. It was the pride of everyone in Miami," said Leome Culmer, who lived in Overtown at the time. "They were bathing in bathtubs and we were still in tin washtubs."

Now Liberty Square is besieged with problems. Many tenants are unemployed; many are single mothers with children. Eugene E. Smith, a former tenant and now manager of the existing 970 Liberty Square apartments, said 90 percent of the project's 4,600 residents are on welfare. Drug dealing is the worst problem, he said. -Miami Herald, Oct. 23, 1986.


After the McDuffie riots in 1980, hundreds of millions of dollars poured into Liberty City for promised "improvements." Besides widening 62nd Street, there's not a lot to show for that money. Each layer of government took its cut and so did some unscrupulous community organizers and politicians, black and white. -Local 10 political reporter Michael Putney, This Week in South Florida, Feb. 5, 2012.


"It's the same people, the same pastors (who) call a press conference when there's a shooting. Does that actually cure the problem in our community? No." -Community activist Tangela Sears speaking with Local 10's Glenna Milberg, Feb. 28, 2013.


"Gangs" in South Florida are not necessarily the products of extensive organization structures as one sees in the movies. I was a Miami-Dade Gang Strike Force Prosecutor (2002-2005) along with 2 others who are now judges, and our case experiences in Liberty City were with loosely-intertwined, relatively young street-level drug dealers that financed daily their expenses and firearms purchases through sales.

The "members' " youth and lack of organization are the scary parts. We shut down multiple operations that were usually based out of specific apartment complexes via RICO prosecutions, but due to lack of police saturation and follow-up, another group would slide right in and occupy the void we created. It is a difficult and costly problem to tackle, and I do not envy the positions of the State Attorney or the Miami/Miami-Dade Police. -Miami Beach criminal defense attorney Michael Grieco. 


Violent gangs have long been part of the inner-city landscape. In the 1990s, notorious drug gangs like the Boobie Boys and John Does terrorized poor urban communities. In the mid-2000s, crews like the Zombie Boys and the Terrorist Boys — whose members are awaiting trial for nine murders — engaged in bloody skirmishes in North Miami-Dade.

But in the past couple years, a new generation of young armed men, some in more loosely organized drug or robbery gangs, have triggered an uptick in the violence, according to law enforcement.

James "Booman"
For example: James Phillips, known on the streets of Miami as “Booman,” is suspected of at least five murders. He is only 19.

So far, he’s only been charged in one: Miami cops say he sprayed a Little Haiti apartment complex with 22 shots in January. One man died, two others were wounded. He also shot at, but missed, a woman who stepped out of her apartment to view the commotion, according to an arrest warrant.

Another notorious gangster, Overtown’s Calvin Warren, walked free from jail last year after he was accused of killing two men, one of them an innocent bystander, in a shooting that started over a heroin debt. Prosecutors had to drop the charges when one witness admitted to severe mental health problems, and another was arrested.

But when Warren, a suspect in several homicides, began moving in on other dealers’ drug turf, someone put a bullet in his head. Police found him dead in Liberty City last month, in the backseat of a car, with an AK47 rifle in his lap.
 -Police ramp up efforts to curb North Miami-Dade shootings, by David Ovalle. Miami Herald, May 12, 2014.


Miami Herald, June 25, 2014: Killing scene in Liberty City is all too ordinary

Random Pixels, Jan. 10, 2012: Trapped in the Pork and Beans

Sun-Sentinel, Jan. 6, 1999: Battling Crime Is Costly In Liberty City

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

President of Miami's police union says criminals own Miami's streets

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

In the wake of this morning's mass shooting in Liberty City at 6511 N.W. 12th Ave. that left two men dead and 7 people injured, the president of Miami's police union responded by sending an "Officer Safety Bulletin" to his membership.

In the bulletin, Miami Police Sgt. Javier Ortiz warns officers that criminals in neighborhoods like Liberty City no longer fear the police.

Ortiz points out that the shooting occurred just a short distance from the Miami Police Department's North Station at 1000 N.W. 62nd Street.
As you are all aware, just a few blocks from the North Station, nearly a dozen people were shot in a gangland style assault. We have reached a tipping point in the district where the criminal element has no fear of our police officers and are beginning to act with impunity.

There are several factors contributing to this. From the lack of effective tactical units, unqualified leadership, to the devastating shortage of officers assigned to the North End.

Google Street View of 6511 N.W. 12th Avenue. 

Ortiz predicts that the shooting will go unsolved and warns officers to be extra careful when responding to calls:
Based on our current clearance rate in homicide, the crime will in all likelihood go unsolved. We are imploring officers that work the North District to remain safe. Back each other up on calls. Treat every call as a potentially armed situation. Please resort back to your training and experience and help each other out. Since we are not getting the resources and support from the City of Miami, we now need to do it ourselves.

Do not respond [alone] to calls that require two officers.

If something should happen to you, the City will say you didn't follow proper protocols by going by yourself. I know that we all want to help out when there is that emergency call. However, you aren't of any value at that call if you get hurt or killed. Let the call hold until you have back-up as stated in our departmental orders.

This morning's mass shooting occurred less than a half mile 
from the Miami Police Department's North Station.

Ironically, this morning's carnage occurred just a week short of the 8th anniversary of the shooting of Sherdavia Jenkins, a nine-year-old girl who died after getting caught in the crossfire of a gunfight between two men fighting over drugs. She died a stone's throw from 6511 N.W. 12th Ave.

In 2010 a park was dedicated in Sherdavia's honor.

The Sherdavia Jenkins Peace Park is three short blocks from the scene of this morning's shooting.

Jan. 10, 2012: Trapped in the Pork 'n' Beans

Monday, June 23, 2014

Q: Who's in charge at the Miami Herald?

A: No one, apparently.

Fidel Castro seized power in Cuba 55 years ago.

So after all that time, shouldn't everyone at the Miami Herald know what he looks like?

This appeared on page 1A of today's paper.

The man pictured is not Fidel. It's a photo of Cuban military hero Gen. Arnaldo Ochoa, who was executed in 1989.

Page 1A, Miami Herald, June 23, 2014.
(Click here to enlarge.)

Your lunch hour time waster

Little girl hasn’t quite figured out how to crawl on her own, so Buddy the dog decides to give her a few helpful pointers.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Classic Don Wright cartoons from 30 years ago

Classic cartoons from the pen of Don Wright, published 30 years ago this week in the Miami News....

Walter Mondale looks for a running mate.
June 20, 1984.
(Click all images to enlarge)

Frozen embryos.
June 21, 1984. 

June 22, 1984.

Jesse Jackson's campaign platform. 
June 23, 1984. 

Simpson Mazzoli Bill.
June 26, 1984. 

June 28, 1984.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Save a life, adopt a shelter pet

Just a reminder, if you're looking for a friend, there are always plenty to choose from at Miami-Dade Animal Services.

And because they've got an abundance of large dogs, they've waived adoption fees until August 31 on all dogs over 35 lbs. Adoptions include sterilization, age appropriate vaccines, deworming, heartworm test, and microchip.

Miami-Dade Animal Services is located at 7401 NW 74 Street, Miami, Florida 33166.

Miami-Dade Animal Services website.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Your lunch hour time waster

Brian Williams Raps "Baby Got Back"

-via The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon

The Watergate burglary occurred 42 years ago today


Via CBS News:
"All the President's Men" is a book, and a movie, about Watergate -- the scandal that made two Washington Post reporters, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, legends of journalism. Now, four decades after the book's publication -- and with the 42nd anniversary of the break-in coming up on Tuesday -- David Martin [of CBS News] has spoken with both halves of "Woodstein" (as the two have come to be known):

Bob Woodward had been working at the Washington Post for only nine months.

"It starts the morning of the burglary," he told Martin. "They called me in. I think the editors who were in looked around and said, 'Who would be foolish enough to come in on Saturday?' and they knew I would come in.'"

That call set in motion the most incredible sequence of events in American political history.

Steve Mielke, curator of the Woodward and Bernstein Archives at the University of Texas, showed Martin Woodward's notes from the arraignment of the burglars the morning they were arrested. The first note he took, "Five men arrested - at Democratic National Headquarters with sophisticated photo equipment." All of the raw material they used to unravel the Watergate conspiracy is here.

"I'm sitting in the front row," Woodward recalled. "And the judge asked where the lead burglar, James McCord, had worked. And McCord went [mumbling], and the judge said, 'Speak up.' And McCord went, 'CIA.' And he said, 'SPEAK UP!' and McCord finally said, 'CIA.'"

"Security consultant," read the notes, "retired from government. CIA."

This is the moment Watergate takes off.



Washington Post: Watergate at 40

NPR: Woodward And Bernstein Recall Reporting On Watergate Watergate burglars arrested

Random Pixels: The Watergate break-in and the Miami connection

Monday, June 16, 2014

Here's proof that Miami Beach's new police chief, Dan Oates, has his work cut out for him

A week ago tomorrow, on Tuesday, June 10, Miami Beach's new police chief, Dan Oates, was spending his second full day on the job.

If Chief Oates needed a reminder that he'd just assumed command of a department with a troubled past, all he had to do was pick up a copy of that day's Miami Herald.

Right there on page one of Tuesday's paper, above the fold, was a large color photo of disgraced Miami Beach cop Derick Kuilan being handcuffed after a jury found him guilty on two counts of reckless driving. The charges stemmed from Kuilan's July 2011, booze-fueled joyride on his police ATV that left two beach-goers seriously injured after he ran over them on a darkened stretch of sand.

Click to enlarge.

What Chief Oates didn't see in the paper that Tuesday - if he looked at the paper at all - was a photo snapped in the hallway of the courthouse as Kuilan awaited the verdict on Monday afternoon.

In the photo Kuilan stands next to friend and former MBPD colleague, Jorge Lemus. Kuilan's expression is an arrogant and familiar one.

The courthouse photo was posted to Lemus' Instagram account and retweeted by Herald courts reporter David Ovalle after someone leaked it to him.

Lemus calls the soon-to-be convicted felon, "my boy and best friend,"and a "#ManOfGod."

The judge in Kuilan's case ordered him jailed as soon as the guilty verdict was returned.

Less than two hours later, Kuilan was posing for another photo...this one taken by a corrections officer.

But missing is Kuilan's trademark arrogant sneer.

Chief Oates definitely has his work cut out for him.

Perhaps a good place to start would be to get some counseling for the officers in his department who think it's perfectly OK to revere and admire former cops who have disgraced the uniform.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The FHP clocked Santiago Guerra Pineda of Miami Beach going 150 mph on his motorcycle near Naples last week

Via CBS4:
A 19-year-old motorcyclist from Miami Beach who the Florida Highway Patrol clocked at more than 150 miles per hour on I-75 on Monday near Naples says he lost track of his speed during his “thrill ride” and never intended to elude the troopers who followed him.

FHP also released dramatic dash cam video to CBS4 that shows the motorcyclist going so fast that two troopers were unable to keep up with him.

CBS4’s Peter D’Oench spoke exclusively with the motorcyclist, Santiago Guerra Pineda, who was arrested by FHP troopers on State Road 29 and charged with reckless driving and fleeing or eluding troopers at a high rate of speed. Watch Peter D’Oench’s report, click here.

“Honestly I was just heading back home,” said Guerra. “Yes I was speeding but I did not see the cops that were on the side. At no point did I plan on running from the cops. The thing is when you ride the motorcycle you can’t let the motorcycle get control of you and at that moment the motorcycle took control of me and I just kept going faster and faster.”
The Florida Highway Patrol said troopers caught up with Guerra after he ran out of gas and asked a passerby to help him.

Click here for complete story.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Your early morning time waster

Richard Dunn was stuck at the airport in Las Vegas with nothing to do, so he made a music video.
"I thought, well I don’t have enough time to go to a hotel so what do I do? I’ve got my phone and an empty movie set, let's see what trouble I can get into," he explained, then added, regarding his mental state in the airport, "I’m just peeing myself laughing listening to this stuff thinking 'you’re just tired it's not that funny.'”

All by myself from Richard Dunn on Vimeo.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The way we were...Training Army Air Force pilots in Miami Beach in 1943

World War II Army Air Force officer-candidate recruiting film shows training and discipline techniques at the Officer Candidate School (OCS) Technical Training Command at Miami Beach, Florida.

Narrated by Capt. Clark Gable.


Monday, June 09, 2014

Fabi Watch

In a column that appeared in the paper last Wednesday, the Miami Herald's most fraudulent columnist, Fabiola Santiago, calls Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi a "serial bride" and scolds her for using "sanctimonious arguments to try to convince a federal court to dismiss a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union [...] on behalf of gay and lesbian couples seeking to have their out-of-state marriages recognized in Florida."

In making her case against Bondi, Santiago writes "Her marriages, divorces, and out-of-wedlock relationships are her business."

For the record, Bondi has been married three times and divorced twice.

The irony here is that Herald editors allowed their habitually Pecksniffian columnist to slip the word "sanctimonious" into a column. Fabi's columns are textbook examples of sanctimony.

As a friend likes to say, "If it weren't for hypocritical and sanctimonious arguments, Fabiola wouldn't have a column."

Halfway through her column Santiago writes, "But nothing is more hypocritical than Bondi passing judgment where she has failed."

Really, Fabi, you went there? Hypocritical? Failings?

Let's look at some examples of Santiago's own hypocrisy and failings.

Carlos Verdecia
Back in the early 90s, when the 34-year-old Santiago was managing editor of El Nuevo Herald, the Herald's Spanish language daily, she was involved in a relationship with a man 24 years her senior, who also happened to be her boss at the paper, 58-year-old El Nuevo editor Carlos Verdecia

At the time, Miami New Times called her a "close Verdecia ally."

But Herald sources tell me the two were more than just "allies," and that their relationship involved more than games of footsie played under the conference table during news meetings.

But on the evening of Nov. 9, 1993, the arrangement between Santiago and Verdecia came to an end.

From Miami New Times:
More than a few El Nuevo Herald staff members were impatient. Publisher Roberto Suarez, accompanied by editor Carlos Verdecia and Herald publisher Dave Lawrence, had called together about 60 staffers for a hastily arranged meeting.

Granted the news was significant: After more than five years at the editorial helm, Verdecia would be leaving El Nuevo. But why take this particular moment to make the dramatic announcement? It was the evening of Tuesday, November 9. Election day. And people were busy. "This was just laid down on us at 6:00 p.m. on an election night," says one employee who was present at the meeting. "If they wanted to prevent any questioning or reflection by the staff, they couldn't have picked a better time. We could only listen and then go right back to work."

The next day El Nuevo and the Herald published identical notices of Verdecia's departure: He was leaving immediately on "sabbatical" through the end of the year. Then he would seek "new career opportunities."

Turns out Santiago's relationship with Verdecia had so poisoned the atmosphere at El Nuevo that "an internal survey [in September] showed that a substantial majority of the editorial staff did not approve of [Verdecia's] job performance," New Times reported.

And, according to New Times, it was Santiago who "encouraged the cliquish [newsroom] favoritism" that led to Verdecia's downfall.

But Santiago wasn't around for any of the drama that November night.

From New Times:
Just three months earlier El Nuevo's managing editor, Fabiola Santiago, left the paper on a sabbatical in order to teach the fall semester at University of Florida in Gainesville. Santiago, a close Verdecia ally who reportedly encouraged the cliquish favoritism plaguing El Nuevo, will not return to her management job. (She has been replaced by Barbara Gutierrez.) The Miami Herald has hired Santiago as a writer on the paper's enterprise team. "At El Nuevo Herald people don't get fired," quips one employee. "They just go on leave forever."
Last night I posed this question to a veteran Herald staffer: "If a columnist is going to write a column that mentions a public figure's "out-of-wedlock relationships," shouldn't the columnist be squeaky-clean herself in that respect?"

"Yes," the staffer replied, adding, "Or at the very least, transparent."

In 1993 Herald editors went to great lengths to cover up and whitewash the relationship between Santiago and her boss.

Twenty-one years later not much has changed.

Friday, June 06, 2014

It's time to stop treating LeBron James like he's some kind of hero

Miami Herald, June 6, 2014.
Photograph Charles Trainor Jr. 


One day shy of the 70th Anniversary of the D-Day invasion, a multi-millionaire basketball player playing in the NBA Finals in San Antonio called it quits because he got a cramp.


Miami Herald, June 6, 2014:
SAN ANTONIO -- LeBron James couldn’t walk.

The stifling heat inside the building had done its job on the back-to-back MVP of the NBA Finals. Leg cramping wouldn’t allow him to continue. James’ right thigh locked up violently under the basket, and he had to be helped off the court by his teammates and trainers.

They dropped James like a heap of sweating despair on the bench and he slammed his hand on press row in disgust. It was over.


Washington Post, Feb. 22, 2014:
Walter D. Ehlers, Medal of Honor recipient who took part in D-Day, dies at 92

By Matt Schudel

Walter D. Ehlers, the last surviving recipient of the Medal of Honor to participate in the D-Day invasion of Normandy during World War II, died Feb. 20 at a veterans’ hospital in Long Beach, Calif. He was 92.
The Kansas-born Mr. Ehlers (pronounced EE-lers) joined the Army in 1940 along with his older brother, Roland. They spent much of the war together in the same units and took part in campaigns in North Africa and Sicily before the Allied invasion of Nazi-occupied France in 1944.

Walter Ehlers in 2011.
Photo by Alex Gallardo/Reuters.
Both brothers were members of the same infantry regiment, but shortly before the Normandy invasion, Roland was transferred to a different company. They were several hundred yards apart, aboard separate landing craft, as the second wave of Allied forces swarmed ashore during the amphibious assault on Normandy’s Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944, or D-Day.

Walter Ehlers, then a staff sergeant, led his 12-man reconnaissance team onto the sands through water that was sometimes above their heads. They found a path that skirted German-laid land mines, crossed barbed-wire fences and moved inland.

“All 12 of us got off Omaha Beach without a man wounded, which was a miracle,” Mr. Ehlers told World War II magazine in 2012. “There were so many bodies everywhere. It was 60 times worse than ‘Saving Private Ryan.’ ”

A day after the invasion, he learned that his brother was missing, but that was all he knew. On June 9, Mr. Ehlers and his small unit came under attack. He spotted four German riflemen through an opening in a hedgerow and picked each of them off, one by one, before they could fire back.

Next, he crawled toward a Nazi machine-gun emplacement, sneaked in from behind and, in the terse language of his Medal of Honor citation, “put it out of action.”

With his team still under bombardment from two mortar positions and machine guns shooting in a crossfire, Mr. Ehlers ordered his troops to fix their bayonets.

“I came upon a mortar section with five or six people,” he told the Orange County Register in 1994. “That’s where my bayonet came in handy. They looked horrified and started running.”

Mr. Ehlers killed at least three enemy soldiers himself, then crawled toward another machine-gun position. He “leaped to his feet,” his citation noted, “and, although greatly outnumbered, he knocked out the position single-handed.”

The next day, surrounded by German soldiers, Mr. Ehlers and another soldier climbed a small rise and, standing completely exposed, kept up a steady barrage of rifle fire to allow the other men to withdraw.

Although Mr. Ehlers was shot through the back, he managed to carry a fellow soldier, who suffered more grievous wounds, from the field. He then returned to retrieve his fellow soldier’s rifle.

After having his wounds treated, Mr. Ehlers was unable to wear a backpack, so he strapped two bandoleers of bullets across his chest, grabbed his rifle and led his squad to safety. In a two-day period, he killed at least seven and as many as 18 German soldiers.

“I was very lucky,” Mr. Ehlers said in 2012, describing the bullet that made a clean transit through his body. The bullet hit a bar of soap in his pack, tore through the edge of an envelope containing a picture of his mother, then pierced his trench shovel.

“It was very close to my spinal cord,” he said. “I still have that picture of my mother, with that stern look her face that says, ‘How dare they!’ ”

Thursday, June 05, 2014

The way we were...UM hires Jimmy Johnson

Miami News, June 5, 1984.

Video via the Wolfson Archives

Thirty years ago today, the University of Miami hired Oklahoma State head football coach Jimmy Johnson to replace its departing head coach, Howard Schnellenberger.

Miami News, May 25, 1984. 
(Click to enlarge.)

Schnellenberger, who was making $250,000 a year and had three years left on his contract, quit UM "to become head coach, general manager and part-owner of the United States Football League's Washington Federals," the Miami Herald reported on May 26, 1984.

The Herald's Christine Brennan wrote, "Schnellenberger, by signing a five-year contract worth between $3 million to $3.5 million, now has the largest guaranteed contract in the history of sports coaching and management. He will make $200,000 a year for the next five years, with the rest coming in deferred payments."

Schnellenberger's departure left a lot of UM fans feeling betrayed...including the guy interviewed in the video above who kept calling him "Schellenberger."

The Herald's film critic, and UM grad Bill Cosford wrote:
Say it ain't so, Howard.

Of course, Howard Schnellenberger isn't a bad man, and he hasn't done anything corrupt. It's hard to fault him for improving his lot. Nonetheless, Howard -- the same Howard who seemed to shine with character, whose force of personality seemed the biggest single factor in the Hurricane Miracle of less than six months ago -- is now part of what's wrong with American sports.

Howard giveth, Howard taketh away. We are broken-hearted because we are not among the ones saying that Miami can't repeat this year, the schedule being so tough and the losses to graduation (or whatever) so significant. We knew that with Howard, anything was possible. We were a little puzzled to hear Howard say that the university wasn't giving him the resources to keep up with the competition, since he recently beat Nebraska's Team of the Century with those same resources, but that's not the problem.

The problem is that almost everyone agrees Howard would have been a fool to stay. A man making $250,000 a year may seem lucky to you and me, even if some of his checks are late, but he would be a fool to pass up $3 million and a lifetime six-figure income. The family, financial security, all that.

Two weeks after Schnellenberger told UM fans he was jumping ship, Miami News editor Howard Kleinberg was still feeling bitter: "I'm still sore [...] it was the manner in which Howard left that made me lose considerable, if not all, respect for the man."

But the Norton Tire Company had the last word when it came to dissing Schnellenberger:
Howard Schnellenberger' s ride with Norton Tire Co. has gone flat.

Company officials have pulled television ads that had the former University of Miami football coach talking about integrity. Some customers felt betrayed by the coach's exit with three years remaining on his university contract.

Also gone are the life-size cardboard Schnellenberger profiles that greeted buyers in Norton stores. "People can't get to Howard personally," said Norton spokesman Dary Matera, "but they could come in our stores and cuss out the poster. That's not a situation we wanted."

Norton President Ronnie Pallot said: "We're going to lie low for a while and see if this thing blows over. We have received calls from die-hard fans who resented his switch and resented our using him in the ads. We're going to ride this thing out without using him." [Miami Herald, June, 2, 1984]

Then in August, exactly three months after announcing he was quitting UM, Schnellenberger was out of a job, again:
MIAMI, Aug. 24— Sherwood Weiser said today that he would not purchase the troubled Washington Federals, a decision that left Howard Schnellenberger without a job.

Weiser's planned acquisition and shifting of the team to Miami were scrapped, he said at a news conference, because of the United States Football League's decision to switch from a springtime to a fall schedule in 1986 and the competition this would have caused with the Miami Dolphins and the University of Miami. [via the New York Times]

Johnson, meanwhile, finished his first season at UM with an 8-5 record.


Wednesday, June 04, 2014

The Colbert Report profiles Big Pine Key's Doug Varrieur

Remember the Miami Herald story from earlier this year about the Big Pine Key resident who built a gun range in his back yard?

Well, the Colbert Report featured him on the show a few nights ago.

Bottom line: Doug Varrieur just may be the most obnoxious person in a state full of obnoxious people.

Take a look.

Monday, June 02, 2014

Florida judge tells attorney, 'I'll just beat your ass'...and then he does

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From the ABA Journal:
A Florida judge told a veteran public defender to step outside the courtroom on Monday, then punched the attorney until sheriff's deputies broke up the altercation, WFTV reports.

Although the incident occurred outside the range of a court camera, it captured audio, including what the station describes as several loud thuds. No one was charged in the incident, and Brevard County Judge John Murphy is said to have gone back on the bench afterward and continued his criminal court call.

The fireworks occurred after a courtroom dispute in which assistant public defender Andrew Weinstock resisted pressure to waive his client's speedy trial rights.

"If you want to fight, let's go out back and I'll just beat your ass," Murphy told Weinstock as the two men exited the courtroom, WFTV reports. A short time earlier, the judge said: "You know, if I had a rock I would throw it at you right now. Stop pissing me off. Just sit down."

Weinstock said he had expected to talk with the judge in the hallway outside the courtroom, 18th Judicial Court public defender Blaise Trettis told the station. "The attorney said that immediately upon entering the hallway he was grabbed by the collar and began to be struck. There was no discussion, no talk, not even time for anything. Just as soon as they're in the hallway, the attorney was grabbed."

Florida Today has obtained the raw courtroom video and reports that those in the courtroom applauded as the judge returned to the bench saying: "I will catch my breath eventually."

WKMG also has a story and video.

The articles don't include any comment from the judge or any court official.

Weinstock has now been assigned to another courtroom.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

The way we were...The CIA in 1960s Miami

Miami News, June 1, 1964.
(Click to enlarge)


Fifty years ago today in the Miami News...
Look magazine reported today that the CIA has operated an office on the University of Miami South Campus under the guise of an electronics research firm.

The Look article "comes as a complete surprise to me," said Dr. Henry King Stanford, U-M president.

And the head of the firm in the building named by the magazine as the Central Intelligence Agency address said, "I don't know what they are talking about."

Miami News, June 1, 1964.


"To become more available to would-be informants, I listed a CIA phone number in the telephone book, and passed around a lot of cards with my home number. I heard from a motley collection of weirdos, but it paid off many times." -Justin F. Gleichauf, head of the CIA's Miami listening post in the early '60s



Miami Herald
Sunday, March 20, 2005


For South Florida, first Mongoose [codename for the post Bay of Pigs U. S. covert anti-Castro program] and then the Cuban Missile Crisis only intensified a frenzied decade that began in the mid-1950s, when Castro's 82-member guerrilla band landed in southeastern Cuba. Mongoose contributed to an already-substantial population of CIA agents, Cuban exiles, wannabe soldiers-of-fortune and assorted other adventurers either involved - or wanted to be - in the secret war against Castro. Then the missile crisis came to make Miami the hottest spot in the Cold War - apart from the three capitals involved - and further fuel the perpetual intrigue simmering beneath the city surface.

An alphabet soup of Cuban exile groups numbering in the hundreds had sprung up, each trying to outdo the other in anti-Castro militancy. More than one such organization had no more members than the leader who announced its existence. To fuel fund-raising, they called press conferences and issued war communiqu├ęs proclaiming actions against Cuba that most often never occurred. Stirring an already boiling pot was JMWAVE, codename for the secluded headquarters of the CIA's frontline command post in Washington's "back alley" war against Castro.

Ted Shackley
For JMWAVE, its activities were to reach a peak in late 1962 and early 1963 leading up to, and during, the missile crisis and its immediate aftermath. Functioning under the cover of Zenith Technical Enterprises, JMWAVE operated from Building 25 at the University of Miami's secluded South Campus, a former U.S. Navy installation. Ted Shackley, a rising CIA star, was in charge as station chief from early 1962 through mid-1965. Some 300-to-400 agents toiled under Shackley's leadership, making JMWAVE the largest CIA station in the world after the headquarters in Langley, Va.

Click to enlarge.

With its estimated $50 million a year budget in 1960s dollars, the CIA station's economic impact on South Florida was tremendous. CIA front companies numbered "maybe 300 or 400 at one time or another . . . we had three or four people working on real estate to manage those companies designed to hold properties," said Shackley. "We could only use properties for short periods of time. We couldn't stay in any one place very long.'' The properties included marinas, hunting camps, merchant shipping, airlines, a motel, leasing and transportation firms, exile-operated publishing outfits, "safe houses" strung throughout the area and, of course, Zenith Technical Enterprises. The station itself had more than a hundred cars under lease. It ran the third largest navy in the Caribbean, after the United States and Cuba. Shackley estimated there were up to 15,000 Cubans "connected to us in one way or another."

The tenor of the times and the threat next door contributed to a tolerant and even cooperative atmosphere by South Florida residents toward JMWAVE activities. "There was, first and foremost, a great deal of patriotism in South Florida," recalled Shackley. "When we needed things, we were dealing with people who had a memory of the Korean War and World War II. There was a strong anti-Castro feeling among Americans. And the influx of Cubans in late 1961 and early 1962 were the cream. What's important to understand is that it made it easy to work in that environment, a pro-government environment. I can't remember going to a businessman and asking him for cooperation who was not pleased to cooperate with the government and help."

When authors David Wise and Thomas B. Ross blew the Zenith cover and identified it as a CIA front in the June 16, 1964, edition of Look magazine, the agency promptly changed the station's cover name to Melmar Corporation and went about business as usual from the same location.


Gene Cohen, University of Miami vice president and treasurer at the time, denied knowing that Zenith was a CIA cover. "As far as we're concerned, the university is leasing space to an organization we consider a good tenant which pays rent promptly," said Cohen. "There's nothing to indicate a connection with the CIA." As the still naive young reporter who spoke with Cohen and wrote the story appearing in The Miami Herald, the author's typed notes show that Cohen added "off the record" that it probably wouldn't have made any difference if the university did know Zenith was a CIA operation since "we're all on the same side," reflecting a near universal South Florida attitude at the time.

Maybe Cohen didn't know, but University President Henry King Stanford certainly did, said Shackley. "He knew who we were and what we were doing. I would meet him occasionally but only when we had a problem. I didn't see him often."

While JMWAVE was by far the biggest, it was neither the first nor the only CIA presence in Miami . That distinction belonged to Justin F. "Jay" Gleichauf, who arrived shortly after Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista fled into exile on New Year's Day of 1959. Gleichauf told his story more than 40 years later in an unclassified CIA publication. "I had no inkling [when Batista fell] that within two weeks I would be in Miami as head - and sole staffer - of a newly authorized office of the Domestic Contacts Division in the Directorate of Intelligence," he wrote.

Gleichauf opened an overt CIA office at 299 Alhambra Circle in Coral Gables. Its basic function was to be a Cuba "listening post." To aid his effort, Gleichauf listed a CIA number - but no address - in the phone book and passed out business cards with his home number, resulting in calls from "a motley collection of weirdos" as well as some irate Castro supporters.

There was "something like 700 exile groups," recalled Gleichauf. "One guy was head of something called AAA, and claimed they had 5,000 men under arms. They were ready to go as soon as they got the green light, . . . [they] made a lot of promises. It turned out to be completely ineffectual. It was all bull. The green light was money. It was a racket, one guy and his brother-in-law, and existed only on paper."

From his arrival in January 1959, Gleichauf did double duty for the CIA on the overt and covert side until the spring of 1960, when President Eisenhower authorized the operation that evolved into the Bay of Pigs. Shortly after the authorization, a CIA colleague from the Clandestine Service joined him in Miami to open the Western Hemisphere Division's new Forward Operating Base (FOB). His duties were to coordinate "all support, training and preparatory activities for operations against Cuba," according to a heavily censored and undated CIA review of the Miami Station declassified in 1995.

Bob Reynolds arrived to head the covert office in September 1960 and left a year later. The office, too, was initially in Coral Gables with "very thin cover," although Reynolds said he did not recall the address nor did he think it was then named JMWAVE.


By the time Reynolds departed Miami in the fall of 1961, the Bay of Pigs had failed, with planning for a new covert campaign against Castro already underway. Before his departure, Reynolds said he arranged to relocate the covert office from Coral Gables to the old Richmond Naval Air Station, the University of Miami 's secluded South Campus.

Shackley left Miami in June 1965, after beginning the scale-down of what had been the frontline command post for the secret war. A further substantial cutback and reorganization of JMWAVE was underway by late 1966. ``Many covert entities were terminated and personnel reassigned,'' according to the Miami Station review.

By early 1968, "it became apparent that as a result of sustained operational activity in the Miami area over a period of years the cover of the Miami Station had eroded to a point that the security of our operations was increasingly jeopardized."

The decision was made to deactivate JMWAVE and replace it with a smaller operation "which would be better able to respond to current needs." By then, CIA personnel at the station - still operating under commercial cover - had been reduced from a peak of some 400 to 150.

The new station began operation, this time under official cover with about 50 persons, in August 1968 at a U.S. Coast Guard facility in what then was described as a "run-down" part of Miami Beach.