Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Today a Miami Herald reporter did his civic duty and voted. It cost him $18

Miami Herald reporter Nick Nehamas voted today.
It ended up costing him $18.

Miami Herald business reporter Nicholas Nehamas swung by the North Shore library at 75th Street and Collins Avenue on Miami Beach this morning sometime after 10 a.m. to do his civic duty and vote.

It cost him $18.

Nehamas says he drove a block north of the library and parked on 76th Street just a little west of Collins Avenue. He told me over the phone he was gone for a total of 10 minutes.

Politico's Florida reporter Marc Caputo weighed in on the matter....

After tweeting about the ticket, Nehamas got this email from the City of Miami Beach.

Nehamas tells me he's just going to pay the ticket.

MEMO to City of Miami Beach Parking Department....this is why people hate the government.

Here's a suggestion: Maybe on Election Day in November you can actually help your citizens perform their civic duty...instead of throwing up roadblocks.

Oh, and here's another reason people hate government....

Monday, August 29, 2016

Is CBS4 anchor Eliott Rodriguez getting ready to launch a reality TV show?

Click image to enlarge.
Long time CBS4 journalist Eliott Rodriguez has been a fixture on South Florida airwaves for the better part of four decades.

But while he's not planning to retire anytime soon, judging from some recent videos of some renovations taking place at his his home that he's posted on Facebook, it appears he may be exploring his options vis-à-vis a reality TV show.

When I asked one of Eliott's former colleagues at another station if he'd seen the videos, his response was, "Is Eliott still in the business? The last I heard he was running a bed and breakfast in North Carolina."

Anyway, if the following short previews don't whet your appetite for more of this kind of thing...then I suggest you stick with "Duck Dynasty."

Friday, August 26, 2016

Newspaper Wars: Sun-Sentinel editor/publisher kills a story...and a Miami Beach pol continues his strange - very strange - war of words against the Miami Herald

Howard Saltz
Politico's Marc Caputo has caught the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel - specifically the Sun Sentinel's editor and publisher Howard Saltz - killing a story that would be front page news in any other city. This after the paper posted the story on its website, and then inexplicably removed it on Wednesday.



From Caputo's story:
The South Florida Sun Sentinel killed a news story on its website about Hallandale Beach Vice Mayor Bill Julian admitting on tape that he sought developer favors in return for his vote — a move by the newspaper’s leadership that appears to be part of a pattern of censoring controversial stories, according to multiple sources inside and outside the Fort Lauderdale newsroom.
Political insiders and newsroom staffers say the decision to kill the reporting was made by editor and publisher Howard Saltz, who did not return a POLITICO Florida email for comment Thursday.

“Saltz kills stories in the classic way: He nitpicks them to death,” said one source familiar with the newsroom discussions of the story. “So here he was saying, ‘oh, this is just an allegation. We don’t have all the facts. It’s not responsible to put this out there. We don’t have comment from Julian.’ And then what happens? They stop Susannah from covering the meeting the next day and getting comment from Julian.”

In 2012, a year after he became editor of the Sun Sentinel, Miami New Times profiled Saltz, noting that he was "essentially destitute" prior to being named editor in July 2011.
After losing four properties to lenders and then filing for bankruptcy himself just three months after his hiring, Saltz had $90 in cash to his name and two overdrawn checking accounts. Eventually, he would walk away from at least $3 million in debts, though his wife's bankruptcy filing suggests the number could be closer to $4 million.

Read Caputo's complete story on Politico by clicking here.


Meanwhile, in other media news south of the Broward County line, Miami Beach Commissioner Ricky Arriola continues his futile, one-man battle to reshape the Miami Herald's news agenda.

Yesterday on Facebook, Arriola accused the Herald of ignoring a story that contained "good/positive news" about Miami.

Click image to enlarge.

This morning on Facebook, Arriola updated his "Miami Herald hates good news" rant against the paper by noting that the paper does indeed publish good news, but it hides it "in the back of the paper."

Click image to enlarge.

Oddly, Arriola's latest tirade against - what he once called "Miami's official newspaper" - comes less than a week after "Miami's official newspaper" posted a glowing profile of him on its website.


Arriola responds with this comment on my Facebook page:
It's simple Bill - I'm very bullish on Miami. We are an amazingly resilient community. It was just 24 years ago that Hurricane Andrew devastated our community. Most cities never bounce back from that kind of calamity. Hurricane Andrew followed a really rough 1980s here in Miami - race riots, the Mariel Boatlift, the Drug Wars, etc... yet Miami bounces back each time and comes back stronger than ever.

I don't like it when our hometown newspaper flashes the bad on the front page (sorry I still read the paper edition) but buries the good stuff in the back. Generally speaking, the Miami Herald does a great job - their work on the Panama Papers was Pulitzer Prize worthy - but they tend highlight negative news over positive news. Hence, my frustration. If there's going to be a rainy couple of days, it makes front page (you've seen me mention this before), but if it's going to be sunny, it doesn't get mentioned (at least not on the front page).

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Is Governor Rick Scott playing politics with the Zika outbreak on Miami Beach to punish Mayor Philip Levine for supporting Hillary Clinton?

UPDATE: Scroll down to bottom of this post to see comment from Miami Beach Commissioner Ricky Arriola.

There's nothing that Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine likes more than a little face time before news cameras.

In fact he's got an entire YouTube channel where he posts videos of his appearances on cable news shows that, more often than not, show him talking about his unwavering support for Hillary Clinton.

But the one video missing from Levine's YouTube channel is the one (above) that shows him appearing before a battery of microphones at a hastily-called 9:30 pm City Hall news conference last Thursday night to address the Zika crisis.

From a Miami Herald: story posted late Friday and headlined "Zika: Two days, two different stories from the mayor of Miami Beach....
On Thursday, hours after the Miami Herald reported that Zika was being transmitted in Miami Beach, Mayor Philip Levine looked at the TV cameras and made a blunt statement.

“There is no epidemic, no outbreak of Zika on Miami Beach,” he told reporters at a press conference. He added there were two cases that had “not been confirmed for Miami Beach.”

On Friday, Gov. Rick Scott made a stop in Miami to make an announcement: There were five confirmed cases of Zika on the Beach and a new area of local transmission that covers the majority of the county’s tourism central — South Beach.

Was Levine spinning, or was he just ignorant of a burgeoning public health crisis in his own city?

On Friday, the mayor pleaded ignorance. In another press conference, he blamed lack of communication from Tallahassee for his own misstep. He said he didn’t know about the five cases before Scott’s announcement at noon Friday and insisted he had used the best information that was available to him at the time. He said he and city officials have been frustrated by lack of information from the state health department.

And according to Miami New Times, "Just 14 hours after Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine stood in front of reporters and said there was "no Zika outbreak in Miami Beach," Gov. Rick Scott announced in a press conference today that five locally transmitted Zika cases had been identified in the city's highest-traffic tourist area."
Speaking at the Miami-Dade County Health Department headquarters, Scott said the cases had been transmitted in a 1.5-square-mile area stretching from Eighth to 28th Street, from the beach to the Intracoastal Waterway. That zone includes the majority of Ocean Drive, the city's famed Art Deco district, most of the barrier island's premier hotels, and many of Miami Beach's popular nightclubs.

During the conference, reporters accused Scott of muzzling doctors who wanted to speak to the public and of potentially downplaying the threat Zika posed to the city.

In a bizarre move, Scott then repeatedly refused to tell reporters when the first local transmission in Miami Beach had actually occurred and declined to tell the public how long the state had been aware cases were being transmitted in Miami Beach.

"It's a straightforward question," one reporter shouted at him.

Click here to enlarge.

From the Herald story, "Zika: Two days, two different stories from the mayor of Miami Beach"....
On Thursday, Levine also said he had no complaints about the flow of information between the city and state health officials: “From our point of view, there’s no frustration. … We’re actually happy that they’re on it, and they’re doing the right thing.”

Friday, his story changed: “I was very frustrated because I would like better communication,” he said. “I know the city manager was frustrated.” Despite that, he said he did not regret his statements Thursday.

The story concludes with these four paragraphs: "All three agreed that the flow of information from Tallahassee bureaucrats left a lot to be desired, particularly as worrisome residents call them for answers."
“The governor’s office is not communicating with me. He’s not communicating with our city manager. We don’t get the information,” Levine said. “The only information we get is from the Florida Department of Health as they are, I guess, allowed to give it to us based on what the governor tells them.”

He stopped short of saying he would demand a timeline of when Zika cases were first reported in Miami Beach:

“I’m not sure we can demand anything from the governor.”
But the question no one in the media has asked is: "Is Rick Scott playing politics with the Zika crisis by withholding information from Levine as payback for his support of Hillary Clinton?"


Florida Bulldog: Gov. Scott’s undisclosed interest – via First Lady – in Zika mosquito control company

Today, in a five minute interview with CNN, Levine answered that question, accusing Gov. Scott no fewer than three times of "playing politics" by withholding information.

Whether or not Scott is playing politics with the crisis remains to be seen.

But one of Levine's most persistent critics, Miami Beach-based filmmaker Billy Corben says, "Mayor Levine put out three different messages in less than 24 hours. Rick Scott didn't force him to go on TV Thursday night and disseminate misinformation already contradicted by multiple major media reports. I don't know who's advising him, but he never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity. He's not a crisis mayor, he's a cruise ship director." 

UPDATE: Ricky Arriola, Levine's colleague on the City Commission responds: "Absolutely Gov. Scott is playing politics. The City of Miami Beach has been giving him problems with Climate Change/Sea Level rise for years. We are also challenging the state's minimum wage laws, moving forward with mass transit (and not waiting for state funding), we banned styrofoam etc.

"On top of that, the Mayor is one of Hillary's top surrogates and we are in the largest swing state. The Mayor may run for Governor one day and he'll likely be a strong Scott critic when he does.

"The sad part of all this is that the public's health is being held in the balance because Gov Scott wants to play games. [Scott] hates South Florida."

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine says he's not 'very concerned' about Zika. And, by the way, Wynwood is getting 'hotter and hotter'


Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine went on CBS the other day to say that he's "not very concerned" about the Zika virus it's someone else's problem and by the way, Wynwood is getting "hotter and hotter," (Ocean Drive is a sewer) and on Miami Beach, hotel occupancy has never been higher and I'm the mayor of Miami Beach and the whole country is coming to South Florida, so you can rest easy and please do not double park delivery trucks on Washington Avenue. Oh, did I mention I'm the mayor of Miami Beach? 

Oh, wait a minute, BREAKING NEWS!!!
"Zika now suspected from mosquitoes in Miami Beach"

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Monday, August 15, 2016

'It's not cool to not know what you're talking about,' Donald

After the New York Times published a story over the weekend titled "Inside the Failing Mission to Tame Donald Trump’s Tongue," Trump went on a Twitter tirade blasting the New York Times...because when manly men are "attacked," they tweet.

From the story:
In private, Mr. Trump’s mood is often sullen and erratic, his associates say. He veers from barking at members of his staff to grumbling about how he was better off following his own instincts during the primaries and suggesting he should not have heeded their calls for change.

In private, Mr. Trump’s mood is often sullen and erratic, his associates say. He veers from barking at members of his staff to grumbling about how he was better off following his own instincts during the primaries and suggesting he should not have heeded their calls for change.
A New York Times reader left this comment with the story...
He doesn't make gaffes. He says what's on his mind and what he believes. Nothing is going to change. What you see and hear is what he is. He cannot be coached or bothered with the facts.

Frankly, I think he likes the way he campaigns and what comes out of his mouth. It makes him feel good to hear a friendly crowd respond wildly to his latest outrageous statement.

Those cheers and an audience of clinched fists is his drug of choice and he is not going to enter rehab anytime soon.

However, the best analysis of Trump's Twitter meltdown was posted by a friend on Facebook:
"I can't even fathom a US President sending out a tirade of tweets like this -- it's worse than a child having a temper tantrum over not getting picked for the T-ball team. SIX tweets, one after another calling out the NYT for a story about his campaign. The sweet IRONY of it all is that his tweets prove the premise of the very NYT story that he is claiming is false: that his campaign people can't get him to focus on issues."

But let's let President Obama have the last word:

Saturday, August 13, 2016

'Becca goes to a Trump rally


My friend 'Becca went to a Donald Trump rally up in Sunrise last Wednesday. (The video posted above is not from the rally she attended...but from another Trump rally in Kissimmee the following day.)

'Becca posted a few pictures on Facebook and wrote this: "I laughed almost all the way through Trump's vaudeville routine. And marveled at the crowd. Do they hear the actual words? Do they know they're being punked? What a strange religion. But... the vehemence against protesters was disturbing. That's not my America."

Since 'Becca happens to be one of the smartest and funniest writers I know, I asked her to tell me more about her night.

She didn't disappoint...this is what I got back....
'Becca and her new friend.
(Click image to enlarge.)
My day job is working for a bunch of radical Commie pinko types -- you know, people who believe in a living wage, access to healthcare and a workable immigration policy. The number of protest-oriented T-shirts I own is reprehensible.

But my essential nature is, and will ever be, that of a voyeur. A writer, a giggler, a cynical kid sneaking smokes in the back of the bus and holding forth on the foibles of the folks for whom politics is religion (no matter what side). It is all funny to me, even though, sure, I do generally believe in trying to make things better than they are.

So...Trump. He started as a joke and then tapped into that vague unrest, particularly among people who look like me. That, too, is funny to me. As a gringa who has embraced living in Miami, I already live in the America of the future. I am the child of an immigrant who never fails to tell me how to vote even as she refuses to become a citizen. My child is the son of an immigrant whose country is rapidly melting down due to staggering corruption and unfavorable oil prices. My favorite anecdote about what it's like to raise such a child is the moment somewhere in toddlerhood he demanded, "Mama, limpia my booty."

Anyway, I was curious about the Trump crowd in South Florida and when a friend asked me to go, I freaking went. We rolled up with a die-hard Republican fellow in his fifties, meandered through a gauntlet of merch and characters dressed for photo-ops. The stadium was packed. We were trying to sit near some other friends who were planning to protest, but ended up in the last open section.

I felt like I was at a barbecue/prom for folks who stopped advancing with the culture somewhere in the early 90s. When Trump took the stage, it was like the blooper reel of Gangs of New York. He really needs a little more steampunk in the wardrobe and a mustache to pull it off though.

If you listen to Trump, no matter where you reside politically, it's utter nonsense. It was not real to me. I couldn't even be offended by the various racist, misogynist and other unfortunate "ists" the man uttered in that stadium. I just laughed, long and loud. I mean, c'mon!

Click image to enlarge.
What was real was the reaction of the crowd. The WWE comparisons are not far off. I guess that's a pretty common phenomenon, back to Roman times.

The crowd absolutely loved it whenever a small band of protesters would get to booing. It allowed them to unleash all the negative bullshit they'd been holding in, dumping years of discomfort on the heads of a handful of scrawny kids with brown skin or curly hair or gauges in their ears.

Four rows from my seat, I watched one such young man booing. The people around him immediately started pointing him out, threatening him, or moving away. He and his two friends shortly got a visit from police officers who took them out of their seats. Two white guys, one sporting a star-spangled bandana, the other playing over-protective dad, actually high-fived each other, as if they were Red Dawn-era Patrick Swayze and Charlie Sheen fighting for the red, white and blue. Against what, exactly?

The kids eventually came back, much subdued. Ugh. As much as I didn't want to wear a damned T-shirt and declare anything to anybody, it's embarrassing to be identified as American when Americans act like the Trump crowd. What year is this?

Well, eventually, even our Republican friend, he who merrily chanted "Lock her up!" with the rest of the goons, got tired of the scene. So we went to Bahama Breeze for apps and, in my case, a coconut mojito. We met up with with our protester friends, on a similar mission.

Now that is the America I can relate to, the one I discovered in Miami. The one that resembles a Warner Bros. cartoon. "Mornin' Sam," says the wolf. "Mornin' Ralph," replies the sheepdog, as each clocks in for another absurd day.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Fred Grimm is not quite ready to hang it up

Fred Grimm (back in the day)

Fred Grimm (now)
You don't need a Masters degree in journalism to know that the Miami Herald ain't what it used to be.

But the one thing that hasn't changed over the years is the quality of the columns produced by Fred Grimm.

Every time I read one of Fred's columns I felt as though I'd learned something new, and I put down the paper feeling just a little bit smarter.

Something else about Fred: He's a good listener.

Last February after some local TV stations had posted a bizarre mug shot of a man arrested in Broward County, I learned that the man in the mug shot was a combat veteran who had served three tours in Iraq and was now suffering from PTSD.

I got Fred on the phone and asked if he could make it right....and he did.

But after noticing that his columns weren't appearing as often, I dropped him a note asking why that was.

Fred got back to me saying that he was now "semi-retired," writing one column a week, and adding...

I feel lucky to have this forum. And I'm sincere about being able to spend more time reporting and writing. Three columns a week in 2016 entails a lot more time consuming non-writing, non-reporting work than three columns a week in 1991 -- headlines, posting photos, pull-out quotes, pull-out facts, hyperlinks, search engine optimizer words that one hopes will catch the attention of the Google algorithms, earlier deadlines, with fewer copy editors.

[But] we're in an era when it's all about the metrics and apparently my metrics sucked.

(A tiresome refrain from former newspaper guys about "how great we used to be" utterly discounts how fucking hard our reporters are working in today's newsroom. I know. I've been around the Herald since 1976, back when reporters could do great stuff and would still have time to write novels right there in the newsroom. That would be unimaginable in 2016. These people work like dogs. And I'm an old dog.)

Anyway, the numbers are simply the inarguable reality of the digital age. And that's the age in which we live. It ain't 1991.


Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Forty years ago this week they found Johnny Roselli's body in an oil drum in Biscayne Bay

Forty years ago today, WTVJ's Al Sunshine reported on the discovery of an oil drum found floating in the bay near Aventura that contained the body of mobster Johnny Roselli. 

Google News Archives: The "grisly murder" of dapper and debonair mobster Johnny Roselli.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Thirty years ago this week they broke ground for the Miami Arena

Aug. 4, 1986: Ground is broken for the Miami Arena.

video via Wolfson Archives

Two years later, in July 1988, the facility the Miami News called a "$52 million gamble," would open its doors to the public.

The Miami Heat played its first game at the Arena on Nov. 5, 1988.

Eight years later, in October of 1996, Heat head coach Pat Riley told reporters that the Miami Arena was one of the worst venues in the NBA. 

On December 28, 1999, after just 11 years at the Arena, the Heat played its last game at the facility.

Twenty years after it opened in September of 2008 demolition began on the Arena.

"The Miami Arena was obsolete from the moment it was built," Ron Turner, an executive at a sports architecture firm told the Los Angeles Times in 1996.

Donald Trump talking about 'the Zika' yesterday....

ABC Breaking News | Latest News Videos
....is every student ever who didn’t read the book and is trying to wing it when the teacher asks what they think it was about.


Via Marc Caputo's Florida Playbook:
Donald Trump paid homage to [Gov. Rick] Scott amid a two-city swing that brought him to Daytona Beach and Jacksonville. Trump sounded out of his depth. But he was fortunate enough to have a TV reporter who asked no challenging follow-ups. The transcript:

-- TRUMP: "You have a great governor who's doing a fantastic job - Rick Scott -- on the Zika. And it's a problem. It's a big problem. But I watch and I see. And I see what they're doing with the spraying and everything else. And I think he's doing a fantastic job. And he's letting everyone know exactly what the problem is and how to get rid of it. He's going to have it under control. He probably already does."

-- Q: What about Congress convening an emergency session to pass the bipartisan $1.9 billion Zika-aid legislation?

-- TRUMP: "I would say that it's up to Rick Scott. It depends on what he's looking to do. Because he really seems to have it under control in Florida."

But here's Caputo fact checking Trump:
ZIKA IS NOT UNDER CONTROL!!!! - First: Neither Scott nor anyone else has Zika "under control." Last year, there were no Zika virus infections in Florida. Now the infection count stands at 351 (only 15 of which have been locally transmitted). Second: the "spraying" might not actually work on the Aedes aegypti mosquito. Third: Since when is a CONGRESSIONAL session "up to Rick Scott" or any governor?

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Attend a Donald Trump rally and you'll see all sorts of child abuse

You wouldn't dress your kid in a KKK costume, so why
would you do this? [Source]


Via the New York Times:
[A] crying baby was initially welcome in the Trump event [today in Virginia,] or so the crowd was led to believe.

“Don’t worry about that baby. I love babies,” Mr. Trump said. “I hear that baby crying, I like it. What a baby, what a beautiful baby. Don’t worry, don’t worry.”

But Mr. Trump’s pacifying platitudes did nothing to comfort the howling infant, whose persistent wails seemed to be getting on the candidate’s nerves.

“Actually, I was only kidding, you can get that baby out of here,” Mr. Trump said a few beats later with a slight smirk as laughs and a few gasps escaped from the crowd. “Don’t worry, I think she really believed me that I love having a baby crying while I’m speaking. That’s O.K. People don’t understand. That’s O.K.”

Perhaps Trump could learn a thing or two on how to deal with fussy babies from President Obama. But when you have a major empathy deficit, like Trump, that's close to impossible.

June 4, 2015 “At the President’s insistence, Deputy National Security
Advisor Ben Rhodes brought his daughter Ella by for a visit.
As she was crawling around the Oval Office, the President
got down on his hands and knees to look her in the eye.”
(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza) [Source]