Sunday, August 31, 2014

Juan O. Tamayo leaving Miami Herald after 32 years at the paper

Juan Tamayo
Leave it to Miami to shock even a reality-TV film crew. The crew was shooting footage in and around Miami International Airport when customs agents found a pair of human fetuses in the luggage of two women returning from Havana.

The fetuses were to be delivered to someone in Miami and used in a ritual for one of the mixtures of Christian and African religions that are practiced in Cuba, according to two people knowledgeable about the case.

“I’ve never heard of anything like this,” said Pat Diaz, who retired two years ago after 25 years on the homicide squad of the Miami-Dade Police Department.

The incident went unreported for more than a month. The crew for an upcoming show called MIA was at the airport but did not film the incident. El Nuevo Herald learned of it independently, and MDPD spokesman Roy Rutland confirmed it on Thursday.

The fetuses, a male and a female, were found Jan. 30 in the luggage of two Cuban American women — one in her 60s and the other who looked to be in her 70s.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents spotted one of the fetuses when they X-rayed a sealed jar. A second was discovered when the jar was opened, according to Rutland.
—Juan O. Tamayo, Miami Herald, March 22, 2012.

________


After 32 years at the Miami Herald, veteran staff writer Juan O. Tamayo will spend his last day at the paper this Wednesday.

Tamayo broke the news Sunday in a Facebook post to his colleagues:
Folks, It’s been a great ride, but after 42 years in journalism and 32 at the Miami Herald/El Nuevo Herald I am retiring. I leave with amazing memories of people who enriched my professional life – co-workers, editors, friends, contacts, etc – and places that enriched me and my family – Bridgeport, Hartford, NYC, Mexico, Central America, the Middle East, Cambridge, Europe and Russia, the Andean region and Cuba. My last day at 1 Herald Plaza (to me, that will always be the Herald's address) will be Sept. 3. I will then devote more time to Spanish-to-English translations, to organizing my 4,000+- files for the Tamayo family tree, to travel, yard work, the gym and no doubt the many projects that Grace no doubt will think up.

Cheahs to all


________


NORIEGA, THE KEEPER OF SECRETS, EYES ASCENT TO POWER IN PANAMA

by Juan Tamayo
Miami Herald, Aug. 15, 1982

The most feared man in Panama is a National Guard colonel who has close ties to Havana and Washington, who invited to lunch a man he jailed three times and who discerns the vintage of a wine as easily as he pegs the provenance of a Communist.

After 12 years at the head of the guard's intelligence division, it's impossible to tell how much of what Panamanians mutter privately about Col. Manuel Antonio Noriega is true, and how much is myth.

The only certainty is that Noriega is expected to become head of the 10,000-man guard, the nation's only military force and the arbiter of the political process. And at its head, Noriega would be, in fact if not in name, the ultimate source of political power in Panama.

At 5 feet 7 and a solid 150 pounds, sleepy eyes set far apart on a moonish face, the 42-year-old Noriega is an enigmatic man who has shown little of himself while keeping the nation's secrets.

He is a friend of Cuban President Fidel Castro who warned Havana to keep its mitts off Central America, and he is a U.S. contact who resents President Reagan's use of El Salvador as the focus of an East-West confrontation.




Saturday, August 30, 2014

FIU's Pete Garcia has picked a fight he can't win [UPDATED x3]



Video by Miami Herald sportswriter David J. Neal

______


UPDATED @ 9:10 p.m.: Neal tells Deadspin, "I know there are things that I've written that have pissed them [FIU] off. I made a video [above] with a montage of FIU's attendance from football games last season, and it showed Pete Garcia got a $19,000 attendance bonus."

______


UPDATED @ 6:15 p.m. with tweets from @DavidJNeal:



______


UPDATED Aug. 30 @ 5:30 p.m.: WPLG reports that FIU issued a statement Saturday explaining why sports reporter David Neal was denied a credential:
We did not issue a media credential to the Herald's beat reporter because of concerns we have brought up to the Herald's reporter and editors over the past few years about the reporter's interactions with our student athletes, coaches, and staff, and the nature of the resulting coverage. He is not banned from FIU or FIU Stadium. He just does not have additional access beyond that of the public.

We welcome media coverage of our athletics program that is professional and respectful of our student athletes and our institution.

We will be meeting with the Herald's leadership in the next few days. We hope to reach a resolution and continue a positive working relationship.

______


It appears that FIU athletic director Pete Garcia has never heard of the famous Mark Twain adage: "Never pick a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel."

Yesterday we learned that Garcia has denied Miami Herald sports reporter David Neal a credential to cover FIU's home opener against Bethune-Cookman today.

From the Herald story by Linda Robertson:
For the first time since FIU created a football team, the Miami Herald will not cover the Panthers’ home season opening game Saturday because the school has refused to provide a press credential to the newspaper’s beat reporter.

FIU athletics officials denied the Herald’s request for a game pass for reporter David J. Neal, who has been covering FIU sports since June, 2011. Passes were granted for a Herald columnist and photographer.

No explanation was given by FIU, but Neal’s access to FIU coaches and athletes had been dwindling for months, to the point where he was no longer permitted to attend football practice or conduct interviews. Last week, when Neal attempted to write a story on the FIU women’s soccer team, he was told no one was allowed to talk to him.


“It’s unprecedented for any local team to refuse to credential our beat reporter without reason,” Miami Herald Executive Editor Aminda Marqués Gonzalez said of the four pro and two college teams the Herald covers on a regular basis. “The team does not get to choose who covers the program.”
In a blog post this morning, Herald sports columnist Greg Cote writes,
Garcia evidently is upset with Neal over a couple of stories the school would rather have [...] seen not written, so he chose a strong-arm tactic from a point of weakness. He entered a battle he could not win. FIU, dying for coverage and attention in the long shadow of UM, has just alienated the only media outlet that regularly covers it. Welcome to the real world, Pete Garcia.
[...]
Garcia's reign has been full of power grabs and strange decisions. The real stunning thing is that none of Garcia's superiors -- no FIU administrator -- has shown the spine (or belief in the First Amendment, or common sense) to stand up to him. Until somebody does, FIU football will wear the shame of this.

Here at Random Pixels, anything having to do with FIU's sports program is about the same as that lost Malaysian plane: Not on our radar screen.

So I had to do a little digging to find out which of Neal's stories may have "upset" Garcia.

Robertson's story says Neal's access has been dwindling for months.

It's a safe bet the friction between Neal and Garcia may have started with, or been exacerbated by, a story from last February that began like this: "Dennis Wiseman, a former FIU pitching ace, received the honor of throwing out the first pitch of FIU’s baseball season Saturday afternoon. That’s also Dennis Wiseman, registered sex offender since 1997, when he was charged with unlawful sexual activity with a minor. [...] An FIU spokesman said director of sports and entertainment Pete Garcia was not available for comment."

And here's a blog post Neal wrote last Tuesday - the day before the Herald says Neal's request for a credential was denied - that may offer some clues. It appears that many of those leaving comments on the post have been aware for some time of the friction between Neal and Garcia:
If I were a newspaper, and I was covering a school that no one really followed EXCEPT alumni, students, graduates, would I want to reinforce to the few readers that I have how terrible their school is? How embarrassing we as fans (and readers) are? Do I think that message is really going to resonate with my readers? I support the PG boycott, I'm tired of the cheap shots and the back handed compliments. I love my school DJN, and so do the majority of your readers. Think about that before you tell us how horrible it is and we are.

When this is all over, my guess is that Pete Garcia - and NOT David Neal - will be looking for a new job.

The Sun-Sentinel's Dave Hyde lists the reasons that may happen:
Where do you want to start with how dumb this is by FIU? A school of higher education attempting to censor media coverage? An athletic department that gets scant headlines refusing to let the one outlet that regularly covers it to, well, cover it?

Or how about an athletic department that seems infatuated with not just making dumb decisions - but with making loud, dumb decisions?

Let's see if there's a common thread to some of the biggest blunders. In 2009, FIU athletic director Pete Garcis hired Isiah Thomas out of nowhere as basketball coach. It made little sense considering Thomas' embarrassing run as a New York Knicks executive, much less the fact he had never coached in college. Well, it made no sense to anyone except Garcia, who said at the time, "No one thought we could pull this off."

Thomas went 26-65 in three seasons before being fired.

Next came the decision to fire football coach Mario Cristobal, whose local ties and good building took the FIU program from nowhere to consecutive bowl games in 2010 and 2011. In 2012, when the program suffered from injuries and a bad year to go 3-9, Garcia suddenly fired Cristobal.

"We'd gone backwards,'' Garcia said at the time.

They went 1-11 last season.

Now comes another strange headline: Garcia has banned Neal from covering FIU - and won't say why, according to the Herald. The first, public evidence of something strange there was when FIU canceled its football media day because Neal was planning to cover it (FIU is part of his responsibilities).

Look, sometimes it's part of our world that people don't like the reporters that cover them. And sometimes reporters don't like the peoplpe they cover. But there's a professional way to get through that, especially if you're a school of higher learning that gets little attention to begin with.

But play the censorship card?

Really?

What exactly are they teaching at FIU?

All this leaves me wondering why no one at the school reached out to Miami Herald management if there was an issue with Neal's reporting.

Abruptly cutting off access, with no notice, to the one media outlet in town that covers FIU's sports program on a regular basis seems like a boneheaded move. But as Hyde points out, boneheaded moves and Pete Garcia go hand in hand.

Neal, for the most part has remained silent. He wasn't even quoted in the Herald's story.

But this morning he broke his silence with this tweet:


But we're letting filmmaker Billy Corben have the last word on this:





Thursday, August 28, 2014

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Miami Herald's new publisher, Alexandra Villoch, is moving the paper a bit closer towards irrelevancy

Last week, Miami Herald publisher Alexandra Villoch told a TV reporter, "Miami is the brand, and we cover Miami."

She also said this: "We can transform and make an impact in our community."

Here's a suggestion, Ms. Villoch: Instead of covering what you call a "brand," and "impacting" and "transforming" the community - whatever the hell that means - how about getting back to the basics of covering the news in this town, and along the way, tell a few compelling stories?

Yesterday when Miami-based Burger King announced it was planning to acquire Canadian fast food company Tim Hortons for $11 billion, the Herald posted a story on its website a few minutes before 8 in the morning. But the story was one supplied by a wire service.

At least one reader noticed that the Herald hadn't bothered to assign its own business writer to a huge story taking place in its backyard.

Click to enlarge. 

How huge? The Burger King story made the front page of today's Wall Street Journal.



In this morning's paper the Herald was still using a wire service story that fails to mention that Burger King is a Miami-based company.

Click to enlarge. 

The Herald not covering Burger King is the same as the Seattle Times not covering Boeing or Microsoft, or the Atlanta Journal-Constitution not covering Coca-Cola ... unthinkable.

Meanwhile on the Herald's front page today there is a story about the relocation of plants and animals affected by the expansion of the Panama Canal ... a story, I'm sure, that everyone in Miami is talking about.

Another big story the Herald hasn't bothered covering is the brazen armed robbery that occurred last Sunday at the Hialeah Racetrack and Casino.

A lone gunman walked into an office - unseen by anyone except the victim - and a minute later walked out with $100,000 in cash.


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It used to be that something like a $100,000 robbery at a South Florida racetrack was considered front page news.


Miami News, Jan. 15, 1963. 

As you can see in the video above, Local 10's Christina Vazquez had no trouble putting together a story on the robbery with lots of detail, along with a bit of mystery and intrigue that sounds like something ripped from a movie script.

The best the Herald could do with the story was six sentences.

But cheer up. The Herald may no longer cover the news, but it still has a dance critic...and the always entertaining Fabiola Santiago.




Sunday, August 24, 2014

Here's video of two Miami Beach cops standing around and doing nothing at a nightclub brawl last March [UPDATED x2]




UPDATED x2 @11:10 a.m. 8-25-2014: A Miami Beach police spokesperson emails this statement: "The video of the event that took place on March 15, 2014 being presented by TMZ does not depict the event in its entirety. MBPD officers were flagged down by nightclub security and requested for additional units to respond. The three individuals including Michael Evans who were originally kicked out of the establishment were later detained by officers for further investigation. Attached is the incident report as requested." [Incident report embedded below.]

UPDATED x1 @ 10 a.m. 8-25-2014: Miami Beach police spokesperson says the two officers seen in the video were on-duty at the time they witnessed the fight, adding, "there was an incident report written on this [fight] and three people were detained including Evans although that is not seen in the video."

________


The video above shows Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie receiver Mike Evans fighting with bouncers at Miami Beach's Dream nightclub last March.

TMZ posted the video on its website two days ago calling it an "insane nightclub brawl."

From ESPN:
Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie receiver Mike Evans said Friday that a fight he was involved in outside of a nightclub in Miami [Beach] occurred months ago, and his agent said the player was not arrested.

A video posted by TMZ Sports shows Evans fighting with bouncers outside of Dream Nightclub in South Beach. TMZ said the fight took place Saturday night, but Evans' agent, Deryk Gilmore, told the Tampa Tribune that the incident happened in March -- two months before Evans was selected by the Buccaneers as the No. 7 overall pick in the NFL draft.

In a statement released Friday, Evans also said the incident took place in March.

Fights outside Miami Beach nightclubs aren't all that unusual.

But what is unusual about this fight is that it was witnessed by two Miami Beach police officers who watched it unfold and did nothing to stop it.

It's unclear if the officers were working off-duty at the club when the fight occurred. What is clear is that no one was arrested.

One veteran South Florida cop who doesn't work for Miami Beach told me after watching the video: "That is insane. If that's how they deal with problems in Miami Beach, the public is in trouble. Police officers are supposed to handle problems, not run away from them."

Unidentified Miami Beach police officer attempts to restrain
Tampa Bay Bucs rookie receiver Mike Evans....

....but Evans pushes him away.

Miami Beach police officer Otto Lopez, (facing camera)
watches fight escalate without taking action. 

Unidentified Miami Beach cop walks away from fight
at Dream nightclub last March.  (Screen grab from 

video at 0:29 mark.)





Thursday, August 21, 2014

Miami Herald publisher Alexandra Villoch is big on customer service

You'd think that after more than 110 years in business, the one thing the Miami Herald would have figured out by now is how to deliver a newspaper!

But here's what a self-described "committed subscriber" posted on Facebook very early Wednesday morning.  At 9:15, Herald publisher Alex Villoch comes to the rescue.




Ironically, later in the afternoon, Villoch appeared on a news segment on CBS4 and made this promise to the half dozen or so people in South Florida who still get the Herald delivered, "your newspaper will be there on time tomorrow morning.”

Who says print is dead?




Maybe spotty delivery is the reason they're able to offer six months of the Sunday paper for only 9 bucks.

Maybe you'll get it, and maybe you won't.






Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Fabi Watch: a guest column


This morning, in what may be one of the most intellectually disingenuous columns the Miami Herald has ever printed in its 100 plus years of history, staff writer Fabiola Santiago takes the "Ray Allen Seven" to the woodshed for a stern tongue lashing.

"These brats need a hard lesson," reads the headline over her column.

"The case holds up a mirror — and what one sees is troubling: What kind of society raises college-bound 18-year-olds who think that it’s okay to break into someone’s house because it looks empty and they’re “curious” about how a basketball player lives?" Fabi asks rhetorically.

I have a better question, Fabi: At what point in your upbringing did your parents teach you that it was OK to screw your boss in order to get a promotion?

But I digress.

This morning I asked a friend to take a look at the column. This was the response: "Honestly, I couldn't get through it. You don't often see "skewed" and "slew" in the same place. Drawing global conclusions from a single incident. The mark of an idiot."

And about an hour ago, filmmaker - and friend - Billy Corben, shared some thoughts on the column on his Facebook page. (For those who don't know, Billy has lots of opinions.)

One of Billy's Facebook friends responded with this comment: "Her writing just isn't captivating. Her leads are awkward and sometimes vague. I have problems understanding her points and find myself having to re-read her columns just to comprehend its coherency." (Hmm, I thought I was the only one who felt that way.)

I asked Billy for permission to publish his post on the blog, and he said yes.

America's (and Cuba's) worst columnist lumbers back onto her sanctimonious and hypocritical soapbox: With all the corruption and dysfunction in South Florida, the Miami Herald pays Fabiola Santiago to beat up on kids?

I guess she's never made a mistake before. I mean, other than that time she had an affair with her editor and got a promotion over more experienced and qualified colleagues.

Regardless, she thinks the teens who broke into Ray Allen's house should have their lives derailed over a (very) stupid mistake; much like the rude, drug-addicted teen who mouthed off to an equally obnoxious judge last year. 
She demands that any and all dissenters who stray from her arbitrary ideological whims should be tossed into prison. Fidel much? 
In the Allen matter, the state attorney's office made a difficult, but appropriate charging decision (initially, anyway) -- the same office who I do not recall Santiago ever taking to task for never charging a police officer for an on-duty shooting, despite a Justice Department investigation calling them out for it. 
Of all the people in this town who “need to learn a lesson,” this is the best she can do? She should pick on somebody her own size. 
Until then, as long as she continues punching down, I'll keep punching down at her. 
Shame on Jay Ducassi, Mindy Marques Gonzalez and Rick Hirsch for continuing to publish and squandering their limited resources on her bile. 
She contributes nothing journalistically or intellectually to our community conversation and is an embarrassment to your paper. 
Perhaps you should ship her back to the front line as your Miami vs. Tampa "Cuban Sandwich War" correspondent.




Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Stay classy, Will


Local 10 sports director Will Manso is today's Social Media Misfit.

Manso was probably one of those kids who thought it was perfectly acceptable to scrawl dirty words with a Magic Marker on the walls of the boys' bathroom in junior high.

All these years later, he still hasn't grown up.

Stay classy, Will.






Speaking up for those who can't speak for themselves

Carol Marbin Miller.
Speak up for those who can’t speak for themselves,
      for the rights of all who need an advocate. ~Proverbs 31:8 [Complete Jewish Bible]

______


At some point last Wednesday - or maybe it was the following day - Miami Herald reporter Carol Marbin Miller made a call to the Department of Children and Families in Tallahassee.

She wanted to know if the agency had any history of dealing with the parents of Javon Dade Jr., the 4-year-old boy whose body had been discovered a few hours earlier in some overgrown grass outside his father's South Miami-Dade home.

The boy had been savagely mauled by his father's dogs: Two adult female terrier-boxer mixes, an adult male pit bull.

At about the same time Miami TV reporters were breaking down their live shots in front of the home and moving on to the next story, Miller was on the phone with someone at DCF requesting records that might show the agency's past contact with Javon's parents.

Miller got the records yesterday.  And in the paper this morning, she documents yet another story of DCF incompetence that ends with another innocent child losing his life:
Javon Dade Jr. 
Three years before Javon Dade Jr. was mauled to death by his father’s dogs, state child protection workers were warned about “the smell and danger” of the six “untrained dogs” living in an apartment with Javon’s family. Two of the dogs were pit bull terriers, which are banned in Miami-Dade County, a caller said.

“The dogs have not really been trained,” an unidentified caller told the Department of Children & Families’ child abuse hotline. “There is concern for the safe care of the children in the home.”

Javon’s father, also named Javon Dade, told investigators the animals did not belong to him. “Dad’s response has been, ‘I know, I know,’ and that he is trying to get the dogs out of the home,” a report said. But the dogs remained.

Last Wednesday, Miami-Dade police made a gruesome discovery: 4-year-old Javon’s badly mauled body lying in overgrown grass in the backyard of the family’s Goulds home. Javon had last been seen at 5 a.m., about four hours before his father noticed he was missing, and six hours before his body was found, a DCF report said.

Javon became the most recent child to die of abuse or neglect after state child protection workers had come in contact with their families. In a recent series, Innocents Lost, the Miami Herald documented the cases of 477 children — most of them younger than 5 — who died following some DCF activity, and the deaths have continued to mount.

DCF Interim Secretary Mike Carroll, who became the top administrator following the state’s annual lawmaking session in May, said Monday he believes the agency’s performance has improved since Javon’s last contact with the agency three years ago. In particular, he said, investigators failed to view the totality of Javon’s family history, and closed the case without adequately understanding the risks the boy faced. Such mistakes should be declining, he said.

Three years ago, Carroll said, investigators apparently did not know that pit bull terriers are banned in Miami-Dade — and were unaware of the county ordinance even now. Animal control officers should have been alerted to the presence of the dogs three years ago, Carroll said.

“That call should have been made,” Carroll said. “When we were reviewing this case, we did not know that. If that’s a law, yes, absolutely we should have made a call.”

Miller reports that "after his son’s death, Javon Dade was fined a total of $1,040 by the county for violating its ordinance on dangerous dogs."

I've talked with Miller in the past. On those occasions she's told me that she gets up everyday and does the job she's paid to do. In other words, nothing special. Some, however, would beg to differ.

Veteran Miami reporter Michael Putney, said this about Miller this morning: "She's a relentless reporter. She's phenomenal."

Putney continued: "Years ago, when I first got into journalism, I thought I could change the world. I soon found out the only thing I was changing was myself. But Carol's different. Her reporting does change things."

After reading Miller's story, I found myself  feeling angry and helpless.

But after doing some research, I realized that while I don't have the voice that Miller does, there are still ways to make a difference, however small.

Sometime later today, I plan to make a donation - in Javon's name - to one of several Miami organizations that do good work with children who are struggling to make it.

Why not join me, if you're able?


_________



Casa Valentina: "Casa Valentina is an affordable housing and life skills program for youth who have aged out of foster care in Miami-Dade County." Click here to donate.

Kristi House: "Kristi House, Inc. is a private, non-profit organization in Miami, Florida, dedicated to healing and eradicating child sexual abuse." Click on the "donate" button on the home page.

The Arc of South Florida: An organization that helps people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Click here to donate.



Sunday, August 17, 2014

Memo to Miami Beach City Manager Jimmy Morales: When you run from a TV reporter....

...who's trying to ask you a question, it tends to make you look like a criminal, or someone who has something to hide.



Miami Beach City Manager Jimmy Morales waddles down a hallway
at City Hall in attempt to get away from a TV reporter who wanted
to question him about the city's new parking system

________


March 23, 2014: Miami Beach City Manager Jimmy Morales believes the less you know, the better off you are

________


Watch Morales run (at the 3:30 mark in the video below) from Local 10 reporter Ross Palombo who was trying to get answers about Miami Beach's problem-plagued "high-tech" parking system. 







Saturday, August 16, 2014

Onelio Castro nearly blew-up an entire city block yesterday


Police arrest Onelio Castro after he caused an explosion
while trying to steal gas on Friday, Aug. 15, 2014.

(Click all images to enlarge.)


Onelio Castro was in the act of stealing gas yesterday at a service station in Miami at 71st Avenue and Flagler Street when something went terribly wrong. Suddenly, the van he was pumping the gas into exploded in a fireball, sending smoke into the air that could be seen for miles. [See video at bottom of this post.]

Luckily, no innocent bystanders were killed. There's no telling what might have happened had the fire from the explosion made it into the station's underground tanks.

Castro fled the scene, but police caught up with him a few blocks away and arrested him.


What's left of Onelio Castro's van following yesterday's explosion. 


All of Miami's TV stations covered the story.

But what no one has mentioned, so far, is that yesterday's near-tragedy might have been averted had Castro been locked up after trying the very same thing in Miami in January 2013, or in Boca Raton in 2012 ... or in June 2010 when police in Medley arrested Castro for "possession of an illegal gasoline storage tank and loitering."

From the Sun-Sentinel, Nov. 5, 2012:
By Marc Freeman
Sun Sentinel

The green 1997 Dodge Caravan with Florida tag 546YQB wasn't just an old gas guzzler — it was a secret gas stealing machine.

When Boca Raton Fire Rescue reached the crashed vehicle about 7 p.m. Sept. 14, the crew looked inside and made an unlikely discovery: A 500-gallon plastic tank and 55-gallon drum loaded with fuel, along with a battery-powered pump, rubber hoses and an open hole in the floorboard between the driver and passenger seats.

Onelio Castro Arroyo, the minivan's driver, had recently made an illegal fill-up from unlocked, underground storage tanks at the Chevron station, 690 W. Glades Road, according to court records.

Police are still searching for Arroyo, 45, of Miami, who abandoned the vehicle and ran off shortly after he jumped a curb and ran into a median.

It may be lucky the minivan didn't blow up that night, said police spokesman Mark Economou, noting that a witness observed Arroyo stumble out with a beer in his hand.

Castro was booked into jail late Friday night. It appears he's already been granted bond.

If this case makes it to trial, perhaps this time Castro will get what he deserves and be locked up for a long time.

Or maybe the courts are waiting for him to do something really horrific - like kill a few dozen people - before they take him seriously.



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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Five Reasons why you should read Johnny Diaz's new book


Johnny Diaz
Johnny Diaz is a features writer for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

He got his start in journalism as a general assignment reporter at the Miami Herald. From there he took a job at the Boston Globe covering features before moving on to the business section where he focused on the media.

A few years ago he returned to South Florida and joined the staff of the Sun-Sentinel.

Diaz is also the author of five books.

But what makes his fifth book - Looking for Providence - different from the previous four is that it's a self-published volume.

"I wanted to experience the process of publishing from beginning to end, on my own," Diaz wrote on his blog.

So, with apologies to Buzzfeed, I've put I've put together a short listicle of the Top Five Reasons why you check out Diaz's book, Looking for Providence:
5. How many books out there combine the hot streets of Miami with the cool boulevards of Providence?

4. The book has two chapters at Channel 7 where Elias, the out-of-work Miami videographer character, lands a job interview at the NewsPlex. Does he have enough cleavage to get the gig?

3. There’s a Andy Cohen-clone named Randy Zohan who takes a deep interest in Ronne Reyes, the young reporter character. Randy makes Ronnie an offer he just can’t say no to. (And we’re not talking about a Fifty-Shades-of-Grey deal, people.)

2. The one and only Books and Books in Coral Gables also appears in the book. That’s where Elias organizes a book signing for his famous broadcaster mother who gets interviewed by a certain celebrity writer named Perez Hilton, ah I mean, Tommy Perez.

1. Lastly, Johnny is a nice guy who works hard at writing positive light-hearted stories about gay Cubans and their amigos. Besides Providence, he’s looking for readers, so help the guy out, will ya?


Four photographs


Birmingham, Alabama, May 3, 1963.
AP Photo by Bill Hudson. 

(Click all images to enlarge)

Ferguson, Missouri, Aug. 11, 2014.
Photo by Whitney Curtis for the New York Times. 

Tiananmen Square, June 5, 1989.
AP Photo by Jeff Widener.

Ferguson, Missouri, Aug. 13, 2014.
Photo by Mario Anzuoni/REUTERS.




Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A classic Don Wright cartoon from Aug. 12, 1964


A classic Don Wright cartoon...published in the Miami News 50 years ago today...





New York Times, Jan. Jan. 4, 2014: 50 Years Later, War on Poverty Is a Mixed Bag




Robin Williams | 1951-2014


Robin Williams entertains the troops in Kuwait, Dec. 2007.






Monday, August 11, 2014

Miami Beach Police Chief Daniel Oates scheduled to give 'confidential, law-enforcement sensitive' briefings on the Aurora theater shooting

The shooting at a movie theater in Aurora Colorado on July 20, 2012 ranks as one of the worst cases of mass murder in this country.

The shooting left 12 people dead and 58 wounded.

James Holmes, the man accused of the shooting, will go on trial this December.

A May 1, 2013 Denver Post story reported:
[I]ncident and internal reports portray a chaotic and confused scene, with patients spread over eight locations and paramedics trapped in gridlock from parked cars and running moviegoers.

Initial reports indicated there was only one person shot and that there were possible bombs in the front and rear of the theater. Additionally, the most urgent requests to help patients initially directed responders to Dillard's parking lot, not in and behind the theater.

As the sheer scope of the scene became clear and emergency vehicles tried to get closer, bleeding victims running from the scene surrounded them, making further progress impossible, the report said. Many of the injured patients initially triaged by paramedics drove themselves to the hospital.

Miami Beach Police Chief Daniel Oates. 
Aurora's police chief in 2012 was Daniel Oates. Oates is now chief of Miami Beach's police department.

Oates declined to comment for the Denver Post story last year citing a gag order. [Click here to read Pretrial Publicity Order.]

But Random Pixels has learned that Oates, in response to requests by members of his department, has scheduled a series of "detailed presentations" that will examine "the police response and subsequent investigation" of the theater shooting. The presentations are scheduled for two days in September and one in October.

In a department-wide email sent out last Friday Oates writes, "it is a confidential, law-enforcement sensitive briefing, as there is a court gag order on the case while the defendant awaits trial."

From: Oates, Daniel J.
Date: August 8, 2014 at 8:35:18 AM EDT
To: Police Department
Subject: Presentation on Aurora Theater Shooting; Three Dates Scheduled

Dear Colleagues,

I have been asked by many of you about the Aurora Theater shooting that occurred on July 20, 2012. Many of you have expressed interest in what happened that night and in how the police response and subsequent investigation were handled. I have a detailed presentation on the event and lessons my former department learned from the experience, and I am willing to share it with members of MBPD. It is a confidential, law-enforcement sensitive briefing, as there is a court gag order on the case while the defendant awaits trial. The presentation takes about 90 minutes. So in response to the requests of many of you, I have set the presentation for three separate times in the days ahead so that as many of you as possible may attend. The presentations will take place in Commission Chambers at City Hall. The dates and times are as follows:

September 5: 1400 hours

September 17: 0830 hours

October 1: 0830 hours

While every member of the Department is welcome to attend this training, overtime is not authorized. Supervisors should make every reasonable accommodation to allow on-duty members to attend. However, needs of the Department and basic service delivery must come first. Also, it would be helpful to know how many folks are coming on each day. So please send an email to Lori Freedline indicating the day on which you plan to attend. Thank you.

Chief Oates

MIAMIBEACH
Daniel J. Oates, Chief of Police
OFFICE OF THE CHIEF OF POLICE
1100 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33139
Tel: 305.673.7925  /  Fax: 305.673.7065 /  www.miamibeachfl.gov

In February of last year, the Denver Post reported, "The judge overseeing the Aurora movie theater shooting case ... denied a request by the city of Aurora to lift or modify the gag order covering the case."
"Attorneys for Aurora had asked 18th Judicial District Chief Judge William Sylvester to lift the gag order to allow Aurora police officers to give talks to other departments about how they responded to the July 20 tragedy.  Aurora says an order from Sylvester intended to limit pre-trial publicity blocks officers from giving such talks."
Today, in response to an inquiry from Random Pixels on the issue of the gag order as it relates to the chief's presentation, Miami Beach Police Department spokesperson Vivian Thayer said, "[Chief Oates] is not concerned with any violation of the gag order as his presentation does not create any pre-trial publicity. The presentation is for law enforcement personnel only."



Sunday, August 10, 2014

Another day at Local 10, another act of stupidity

An iPhone in the hands of an idiot is a dangerous thing.

If you want proof, just Google the words "inappropriate selfie" or "stupid selfie."

What follows are some examples of really stupid and inappropriate selfies that have shown up on the Internet recently.



This idiot took a selflie at Auschwitz. 
(Click all images to enlarge.)

Late last year an idiot took a selfie as cops tried to talk a man
out of committing suicide. Someone else took her picture,
and, as you can see, she ended up on the cover of the NY Post. 

No caption needed on this, except to say he's clearly an idiot. 

Yesterday I wrote about an epidemic of stupidity that threatens to destroy what little is left of TV station Local 10's reputation and credibility.

A once proud news operation is now being overrun by selfie-taking idiots and Instagramming morons who call themselves "journalists."

Today a "mole" at Local 10 sent me incontrovertible photographic proof that the stupidity at the station isn't just confined to the "talent." (Yes, inexplicably, "talent" is the word that's used to describe the people you see on your TV screen.)

This morning a fire alarm was tripped at Local 10....which presented four producers idiots with an opportunity to run outside and take a selfie in front of a fire truck.

But the stupidity didn't end there.  One of the producers idiots actually put the image on the air.



"At Local 10, we don't just cover the news, we are the news!"
(Click here to enlarge.)





Saturday, August 09, 2014

Incredible time-lapse video of a Kansas thunderstorm by Stephen Locke


Time lapse cinematography of the structured supercell outbreak near Climax, Kansas on May 10, 2014. Video by Stephen Locke.


Climax, Kansas Supercells by Stephen Locke from Stephen Locke on Vimeo.



Local 10 is 're-defining' broadcast journalism in South Florida...and the future looks bleak


Silliness like this at Local 10 is helping to kill off what's left of
the station's reputation as a place to go 

for serious broadcast journalism. 


Last night, WPLG Local 10 offered its viewers a glimpse into the future.

Five minutes into the 11 o'clock news - a TV station's equivalent of a newspaper's front page - Local 10's producers treated viewers to this bit of nonsense ... a story about a woman whose dog sustained "gruesome injuries" while it was being groomed at a Petsmart. (The dog was nicked twice.)

And "reporter" Tamika Bickham was all over this story: "Now [Penny] Brunet, who lives in Canada, is stuck in South Florida unable to fly because of her dog's condition, hoping in 10 days everything will be OK," Bickham reported breathlessly as though she were updating viewers on the condition of a president who had just survived an assassination attempt.




Anyone who owns a pet feels for Brunet. But this ain't news. Sh*t happens.

So how does crap like this end up as one of the top stories on a TV station's late news?

An educated guess is that Brunet called the station. Isn't that your first instinct when your dog is injured...to call a TV station?

But, if you watch TV news on a regular basis, get used to this. Because dumb-downed swill like this is more and more often taking the place of serious journalism that South Florida stations once practiced.

Need more proof?

Local 10 last month dispatched a helicopter, a reporter, a photographer, and a live truck to cover the "story" of a girl who had stepped on a garden snake. 

________

Now this is a scary thought:
Local 10's Constance Jones is a role model for
the station's "future broadcastors."
________


Local 10 still has reporters who know how to tell a story - veterans Michael Putney and Glenna Milberg come to mind.

But in order to see their reporting, the station's producers and news managers are forcing serious news consumers to wade through piles of putrid garbage to see it. Bickham's story last night is a prime example.

Have you ever wondered why there aren't more reporters like Putney and Milberg on Local 10?

That's because the station is too busy hiring former NFL cheerleaders instead of journalists.

Local 10 now has the dubious distinction of being the only station in Miami with three, count 'em, three, former NFL cheerleaders on its payroll. The station's few remaining real journalists are now forced to compete with bimbos in sleeveless cocktail dresses for precious air time.

And then there's the "It's all about me" crowd at Local 10.

It wasn't that long ago that the job of a journalist was document history and tell the stories of other people. But in the age of Twitter and Facebook some at Local 10 believe they are the story. Along with their 5-inch heels.

Bickham - who apparently believes she's the TV news version of Kim Kardashian - actually posted these two photos on Instagram a week ago.

Welcome to "reporter" Tamika Bickham's world where 
it's all about, "Me! Me! Me!"
(Click here to enlarge.)

Local 10's Tamika Bickham wants you to know she's ready to take her
place in history - wearing 5-inch heels - beside George Washington, 

Rosa Parks and the first men on the moon. 


Local 10's Todd Tongen: "We'll get to the news in a minute...
right after I show you what an idiot looks like."

(Click here to enlarge.)


Constance Jones is one of those working hard to kill off the last 
remaining vestiges of serious broadcast journalism at Local 10. 
(Note how similar this pose is to Bickham's pose in 
the photo above.) 




Thursday, August 07, 2014

The Random Pixels feel-good story of the day


Yesterday Miami-Dade County Public Schools superintendent Alberto Carvalho donated some of his own money to ten homeless students for college tuition.



video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player



Tuesday, August 05, 2014

The way we were...Hitler in Havana TV special


Ad from the Miami News, Dec. 10, 1966, for a Channel 10 TV special:
"You've read the bold headlines! Now see secret scenes smuggled direct from Castro's Cuba. See explosions rivaling the Reichstag fire! Castro's G-2 Gestapo in action! Concentration camps in the center of Cuba! Red stormtroops rioting throughout the Americas! ... See pathos, poverty, sabotage, riots, all filmed from life, as it was actually happening, hidden in the heart of Castro's Cuba."






Happy birthday, Pops


Duke Ellington once said of Louis Armstrong, “He was born poor, died rich, and never hurt anyone on the way.”

Yesterday, August 4th, was Louis Armstrong's birthday. Happy birthday, Pops.




Live in Belgium, 1959.




Monday, August 04, 2014

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Dazed and confused Miami Beach Commissioner who knows nothing about history wants to rewrite history



________


TIME,
Feb. 27, 1950.
(Click to enlarge.)
"In 1953 Arthur Godfrey opened his first television show by diving off a boat and swimming ashore. He waded into the camera saying, "It's great down here at Miami Beach. Why don't you come down? It's warm. The moon's out."

"With this illustrated endorsement Godfrey started a tourist rush. Within six months the City Of Miami Beach got a record number of inquiries from potential visitors.

"At a luncheon yesterday in [the] Miami Beach Convention Hall, attended by 900 or so grateful well-wishers, Godfrey was still plugging Miami Beach."  Miami News, Feb. 28, 1964.
Just five days before the above article was published, the News reported "Arthur Godfrey, the man who helped put Miami Beach on the map, will celebrate his 30th year with the Columbia Broadcasting System this week by originating his coast-to-coast radio show from the Convention Hall Thursday."

In 1964 Godfrey had been broadcasting from Miami Beach for 11 years.

In 1956, three years after he brought his popular show to the Beach, a group of grateful 41st Street merchants petitioned the city to rename the street Arthur Godfrey Road.

Jan. 8, 1955.
On Feb. 15, 1956, the Miami Beach City Commission unanimously passed Ordinance No. 1201 that changed the name of 41st Street to Arthur Godfrey Road.

(In the late 1950s the word "swank" was often used to describe Arthur Godfrey Road. In 1959 Miami Beach businessmen and religious leaders panicked after learning that the head of Royal Castle planned to open one his hamburger joints on the street.)

But Godfrey was more than just an entertainer and a pitchman for Miami Beach.

Still from "Flying With Arthur Godfrey"
(1953)
He was also a committed advocate for Florida's environment and a licensed pilot.

According to his 1983 obituary in the New York Times, "he constantly plugged the glories of air travel on his shows, and on one occasion [WW I ace and one-time chairman of Eastern Airlines] Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker credited Mr. Godfrey with having done more for the aviation industry than anyone since Charles A. Lindbergh." (In 1953, Godfrey and Rickenbacker starred in a film produced for Miami-based Eastern Airlines that commemorated 50 years of powered flight.)

When Godfrey died in March 1983, his page one obituary in the Miami News said he "soft-sold Florida to millions upon millions of snowbound, ice-weary Americans...."

"He made TV and promotional history here," the News quoted publicist Hank Meyer as saying.

But just a year and half after Godfrey died, one Miami Beach commissioner wanted Godfrey's name gone from 41st Street.

"Arthur Godfrey means nothing to this community anymore," declared Miami Beach Commissioner Bruce Singer in October 1984.

Singer was soon getting stacks of hate mail, and a month after he proposed that Godfrey's name be removed, he was backpedaling.

In a letter to the Miami News, Singer blamed the 41st Street Merchants Association for raising the issue.

Now, thirty years after Singer tried and failed to get Godfrey's name removed, another Miami Beach commissioner is trying again.

In a June 30 memo to City Manager Jimmy Morales, Commissioner Joy Malakoff asked that an "item regarding removing the Arthur Godfrey Road co-name be placed on the July 23rd Commission agenda."

A July 31 Miami Herald story quotes Malakoff as saying, “Arthur Godfrey is no longer well-known or well-regarded in the city of Miami Beach by many. This is no longer 1956. I think we should call it 41st Street.” Malakoff offers no proof to support her claim that Godfrey is no longer "well-regarded."

________


(Pop quiz: How many co-designated street names are there in Miami-Dade County? Click here for the answer.)

________


The Herald story also recycles oft-repeated and unfounded rumors of Godfrey's alleged anti-Semitism, citing the fact that the hotel where the entertainer's 1950s shows were broadcast from - the Kenilworth - did not allow Jews to stay there.

But Howard Kleinberg, a Miami Beach historian and former Miami News editor points out that “There were a lot of restrictive hotels in Miami Beach. [And] none would allow blacks.”

Seth Bramson, a South Florida author who claims to be a "historian," wrote in a 2008 book that "Godfrey was known as a virulent anti-Semite." But like others before him, he offers no sources or proof.

Bramson, despite calling himself a "historian," apparently wasn't curious enough to ask why "900 or so well-wishers" would fete a "virulent anti-Semite" at that Miami Beach Convention Center luncheon in 1964.

And had Bramson the "historian" researched a little more thoroughly,  he would have learned that at a testimonial dinner in 1954, the Greater Miami Jewish Federation presented Godfrey with a hand-wrought, silver-covered Hebrew Bible honoring him for "outstanding service to his fellow man and his community."

According to the Herald, during a commission meeting last June, Commissioner Jonah Wolfson said that "if the anti-Semitism claims can be validated, then the name should be removed. But that otherwise, removing the name would validate rumors." [Emphasis mine.]
“I think you want to be very careful to do this because if there’s details that do prove that those are positions that he held... then you want to take the name off as quick as you can,” Wolfson said. “But if you can’t show that, at the same time, I don’t think you want to come into a public setting and say that there was a suggestion of anti-Semitism, and then take the name down. Then you’re calling somebody something without necessary proof.”
But Malakoff doesn't overtly claim that Godfrey was an anti-Semite. Instead, she suggests it, somewhat deceitfully,  by claiming that Godfrey is "no longer well-regarded by many in the city." She doesn't say who the "many" are.

Note to Commissioner Malakoff: Do a little research before the next commission meeting on July 23rd and you may learn just how well-known and how well-regarded Arthur Godfrey still is.