12 CDs for the Price of 1!

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Miamista's Roundup, Riding Herd on Scoundrels

1. Oh, Give me a home in Homestead, inside the UDB. Celebrate South Dade with a trip to the rodeo show (pictured left) and follow it up with some time in the neighborhood.

2. Anna Menendez, one of two columnist worth reading at the Herald since Max Castro was kicked out has a funny, insightful article on the FIU bull shit "spying case". (Anna and Max both are on a all Cuba all the time thing but what's wrong with that?) "Thank goodness the fearsome Cuban spies are finally in custody. Now Fidel will never know for sure what his coffee-sipping enemies at Versailles really think of him."

3. Miamist recommends cultural tours throughout the city with Dr. George. If you don't know Miami you will learn a lot about an interesting city. I think the most interesting building in terms of symbolism and irony is the old downtown/Little Havana Miami Ku Klux Klan building that in the '80's became Teatro Marti and now is up for sale.

4. Employment- tourism and building boom. The unemployment rate in Miami-Dade is at a low for the past six years preliminary reports from Florida Workforce Innovation show. Workforce Innovation has had previous problems with fudging numbers as has other state statistical departments under Governor Jeb. As a point of comparison the actual unemployment rate for Black males in New York City is 50%, excluding the underemployed a number that is over three times the rate reported. This is actually much lower for that demographic than in most cities, including Miami. The measurement for unemployment has always been dubious. The liberals out there they should remember that this annual study, began a decade ago originally exposed that the Bureau of Labor Statistics and its contracted partners were fudging surveys under Bill Clinton. It has been asserted that his administration opened the door to widespread reworking to allow for better results. The numbers have not changed appreciably and now they are being used to undercut the Republican claims on employment. South Florida Workforce keeps its own statistics on growth in types of employment. Growth areas in Miami have primarily been in (SURPRISE), tourism and construction.

5. More on the labor front. A minor hubbub at South Florida Workforce a few months back brought us Rick Beasley. They were running into some trouble with their former leadership and they brought in Rick from Missouri. For those of you who don’t know, this agency is our state employment (or shouldn’t it be our unemployment) office. He wants you to know that there is a refocus on training programs, and armed with a budget surplus he wants to offer training in medicine and accounting where there is a need for employees. Here is the contact info, 1-866-352-2345.

6. The Miami New Times goes to the dogs. Last week the New Times ran three of five “news” items on the local SPCA. Enough said.

7. The real estate market is falling like a bag of bricks. The median price of existing homes declined to $377,700 in Miami-Dade County in December, down from $381,600 in November. In Broward County, the median price dipped to $369,000, from $391,100, according to numbers released Wednesday by the Florida Association of Realtors. We were told that record declines in prices and sales in September, October and November were caused by hurricanes. Housing prices are falling each month, sales are falling and fortunes are falling. Condo developers and speculators are on suicide alert.

Everybody has been complaining about the lack of affordable housing when the real story should be what will be the repercussions of a real estate crash, courtesy of the inflated market.  No one seems to want to believe me (I've been called a gloomy idiot by the legions of commenters and journalists, on local blogs (looking at you "Critical Miami" blog and a couple of Miami Herald columnists joining in but I won't link to people calling me mean names)... but a crash is gonna happen, and soon.  There's the probable loss of employment and billions of dollars by local speculators. There are also a lot of families that took out variable rate loans that are rising with interest rates and still others that took out lines of equity against inflated appreciation. The biggest disaster may be sky rocketing property taxes against this decline in values. If you are a plantation owner however however Jeb has you covered. Does anyone really expect the property tax assessors to be as quick in lowering property taxes as they were to raise them? On top of all of this is the rise in insurance rates now that we have become hurricane highway rather than hurricane alley.

8. Alvarez and UDB- Miami Dade commissioners accused Mayor Alvarez of grandstanding on the issue of the UDB. They say that he did not come to them prior to their vote to advise them that he would veto, which of course, they overrode. The question is, would the commissioners have negotiated the reasonable extensions of the urban boundary in pockets within the UDB that were left out while not extending the boundary farther out. Can’t imagine that would be the case.

9. Jimmy Morales - Jimmy has been toiling away as the county Democratic Party leader. Miami-Dade is still a majority Dem county. The candidate who faced justified backlash from local voters for graduating first in his class at Harvard College and Harvard Law as well as being environment friendly, honest, multicultural and moderate.  Yeah.  Jimmy would love to be a senator but there won’t be an opening for some time to come. He has missed his shot at the governor’s house. I have not heard about any significant increase in fund raising or more orderly, functional party machinery. I have heard that he is on the short list of any Dem governor’s appointee list. A reporter should see what he is up to. That won’t happen so I will get some second hand gossip and share it next week.

10. Miami City Commissioner Johnny Winton weighs in again sounding reasonable. Winton is impressed with the hire Terence Riley and alluded to some of the not so together planning of former curator Suzanne Delehanty, aka Air Ditz. (I am fearful of some serious political/ethnic pressure by some local myopic idiots will give Mr. Riley fits.) Referring to MAM he voiced issues about whether highbrow art should be high on the list of what the city is funding considering poverty levels in the city. Calling for the bulk of funding to come from private sources he added that “either way we get a great new park and that maybe we will have a city bond issue since the county has a knack of making money disappear.” Go ‘head Johnny! I mean, it’s a little late for you probably but you have been on point lately with the impact fee thing, (the need for parks and transportation, historic preservation, affordable housing). Now it all seems like damage control coming too little too late.  Sorry for help riding you out on a rail champ, maybe crooks are all we can get in office... Am I being too cynical? Course not. But with his position on impact fees, the need for parks, transportation, infrastructure, community based afterschool programs… No, I’m not going to fall for it. Winton's been a dack. Let’s see what he actually does.

11. City Manager Joe Arriola has just added to his list of jackass behavior that is becoming an albatross for his boss. Let’s see: threatening to withhold hurricane assistance if a district did not vote for his candidate; getting kicked out of televised Miami Heat basketball game for berating an official; orchestrating an outlandish raise for his boss and telling folks in the media to kiss his ass when questioned on it; orchestrating a $7 million payout while screwing thousands of city residents, and then lying about it; shuttling hurricane aid to Hispanic districts while denying other districts; and firing a highly respected “Afro-Cuban” Pedro Pan success story Ricardo Gonzalez who led the Neighborhood Enhancement Teams (NET) for the city of Miami (bringing up the nasty issue of Cuban American “colorism”). In an otherwise great piece, Rebecca Wakefield tap dances around the racial issue;  she once makes reference to the obviously office softened, paunchy Ricardo Gonzalez as "a large and potentially intimidating Black man". Huh?  Anyway, seems all Mr. Gonzalez was guilty of was for doing his job, following orders and not discriminating. What he failed to remember is that to City Commissioner Angel Gonzalez, Mayor Diaz and Joe Arriola he is, still negro and needs to know his place in Cuban Miami. Don’t be surprised to see Diaz dump Arriola, probably getting some friends to help smooth the way, as Arriola is becoming serious political baggage to the “business” mayor.

12. George Burgess is trying to pass the blame for imminent water shortage due to the encroachment on the Everglades upon the director, or former director of the Water Department. Burgess is Mayor Carlos “Don’t get too close to my rapist son” Alvarez’s Arriola, that is, both Miami and Miami Dade have self serving, demagogic mayors with servile, incompetent, mean spirited lackeys. In Arriola’s defense, he was always a mean spirited, incompetent asshole whereas Burgess grew into one under former Mayor Alex Penelas’s tutelage.

13. Haitians professionals have met recently to discuss increased political participation and economic growth in the Haitian community. Recently second generation Haitians have been vocal about their desire to have refugee status for Haitian, well, refugees. Several South Florida representatives including Representatives Ileana Ros Lehtinen, Licoln Diaz Balart and Jose Diaz Blart have taken the position that Haitians deserved to have Temporary Protective Status (TPS), as is available to a small number of Central Americans. The big catch there is that TPS does not lead to expedited citizenship and VOTING status, thus denying Haitians arrivals a political voice. Haitians are the second largest immigrant group in Miami-Dade, and the third largest group of foreign nationals (the difference here being that Puerto Ricans who represent the second largest immigrant group are both Puerto Rican and U.S. citizens.)

14. Coconut Grove Grapevine gets edgy and funny with Saturday, January 28, 2006 entry

"What's with the golf carts?"(No more links since they are on the right.) Stuck on the Palmetto was one of my favorite blogs until I saw Coldplay in the number one spot of his playlist (J/K). Kyle at Miamity has been killing me (humor wise) and informing me event wise. Someone at Metblog has been making me puke. Alesh and Steve are consistently the best around IMO. Hidden City and Overtown are great with pics and blog. Kordor has forgotten to sign in for a while so something is missing.

15. There was a feel good story about the University of Miami that gave me hope. The article about UM’s successful Billion Dollar Campaign was excellent excepting some minor errors and oversight.

In the last decade USC, Cornell and Columbia are the schools that have led the nation in the fundraising, and both are pursuing $2 billion campaigns. (If you happen to know Miamista you are aware that he has spent considerable time at the first two schools and worked at the third taking continuing ed classes there because they were free, but he hates Columbia, having attended NYU. Miamista is also considering enrolling again because he is an irrepressible career student.) There are a dozen schools that are in the process of $2 billion campaigns (because $2 billion is the new $1 billion, of course).

For a college to be competitive it has to have campaigns aimed at increasing its endowment as opposed to gathering money for building programs, as endowment money is what allows a college to get better students and faculty and perform research. Note that the locals extremists that dictate UM's hiring and academic focus are not the big gift giving folks.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Joe Martinez: O.K. Katy, Get Your Ass Back Here!

Every one knew that this had to happen. Katy Sorenson is in trou-ble! The Latin Builders Association has named her "Cracka gettin' on my nerves number 1, (2006)." The first salvo was the attempt to bring up the mitigation fees. Newer municipalities pay these fees to the county, including some largely Anglo Miami-Dade cities, while older cities do not.

The latest shot was the petty decision by current commision chairman Joe Martinez to take Katy off of the South Florida Planning Council, where she has served for a decade. Her seniority has given Dade some influence on the council despite the fact, that a second seat has sat empty for a year because no one else from Dade gives two hoots.

Regionalism, something that Miamista has written extensively about, has suffered from ethnic politics. The Hispanic majority on the Miami-Dade commision has been very anti-regional, seeing it as a backdoor way for Anglos to involve themselves in county issues, having lost their political majority in the mid-90's, following massive White flight (partially due to Hurricane Andrew.)

It is no accident that in recent years the only commisioners who have participated are Anglo (and Jewish in the case of Commissioner Sally Heyman). Note that the replacement that was chosen was African American Commisioner Dennis "Do What Boss Say" Moss. (Anyone who has been to some of the South Dade Black communities he "represents" will get a whole new definition of "Dirty South".) Even he did not want to take the position, as it is demeaning to be a both voiceless and powerless stooge.

Carlos Gimenez was also selected to fill a seat on the neglected planning council. This was a bone to assist him in keeping support in a half White, half Hispanic district that elected him to follow progressive Jimmy Morales. That he was an outsider at odds with the city commision during his days as Miami City Manager gave him ipso facto a progressive lable. His voting recored has proven otherwise. Joe Martinez, has also brought the backing that someone of his ilk has in the development community.

Katy is looked on as a threat because she may present the best chance for an Anglo county mayor. In the racially determined voting patterns of Dade, Anglo and Black voters are combined, the largest bloc of voting. If an Anglo candidate receives any progressive Hispanic votes in addition he or she will be virtually unbeatable. This is why the cagey Mayor Alvarez has made it a point to grandstand on issues that appeal to progressive Anglo voters (clean government, planned growth, regional integration, education) even as he has effectively undercut these positions. This ability to play both sides (as in his position on protection of Gay individuals in the Civil Rights oridinance) along with a compliant Herald has served him well.

Miamista believes that Katy isn't an opportunists on these issues and that what are seen as Anglo issues are actually issues that affect us all, and that we should champion as a community. The LBA and the Hispanic community are not the same thing and it is their efforts that keep us away from regional intergration. I've always thought that if the LBA folks spent half the time, energy and money into moving into Broward, PB, Collier, Martin and St. Lucie, they would increase their profit and we would be a much wealthier region. Sorenson's record is not remotely one of an "environmental activist" as the Herald asserts, but as a reasonable, independent voice representing the people of Dade, not a cadre of developers.

Anyway, here is an excerpt from the story.

Posted on Mon, Jan. 23, 2006
MIAMI-DADEPlanning board still being shuffledMiami-Dade Commissioner Dennis Moss, tapped to replace a fellow commissioner yanked from an influential regional planning board, remains undecided.By NOAKI SCHWARTZ AND TERE FIGUERAS NEGRETE MiamiHerald
A week after Miami-Dade Commissioner Katy Sorenson, a vocal environmentalist, was booted off an influential planning board, one of her proposed replacements waffled on accepting the post, raising hopes among some activists that Sorenson might be reappointed.
Commissioner Dennis Moss' office on Friday initially sent a curt e-mail to the South Florida Regional Planning Council and Chairman Joe Martinez declining the post.
But in an interview with The Miami Herald hours later, he backpedaled, saying he would prefer to remain ''noncommittal'' at the moment.
''I'm taking it under advisement,'' said Moss, who is seen by critics as being development-friendly. ``Initially, my response was that I've got a lot of things going on, and I didn't know if I wanted to create another activity . . . but then I started to think about it.''
Last week, Martinez took Sorenson off the South Florida Regional Planning Council just days after she and other council members had voted largely against any efforts to move the county's urban development boundary.
The boundary is designed, in part, to keep urban sprawl from encroaching on the Everglades.
Sorenson called Martinez's decision retribution for her votes.
Martinez denied the charge, saying that after 11 years on the council, it was time to give someone else an opportunity.
Martinez appointed Moss and Commissioner Carlos Gimenez to replace Sorenson and to fill another seat that had been vacant for about a year.
The 19-member planning council serves as an advisory panel to the Florida Department of Community Affairs in reviewing land-use changes in Miami-Dade, Broward and Monroe counties.
The group is composed of elected officials from the three counties and private individuals appointed by the governor.
Gimenez accepted Martinez's appointment, calling it ''a pretty cool assignment.'' Moss didn't -- at first.
''Effective immediately, Commissioner Dennis C. Moss has declined to serve on the South Florida Regional Planning Council Board,'' read the e-mail he sent to the council and the chairman's office. It didn't offer an explanation for his decision.
Late Friday, Moss sent a second e-mail to the Planning Council saying his staff had declined the post for him without consulting with him first.
Sorenson supporters, who sent sharp e-mails to the chairman in protest last week, welcomed initial news that Moss may not take the appointment.
Ilene Lieberman, a Broward commissioner who chaired last week's Planning Council meeting, said Sorenson had just been voted treasurer of the council and was in line to become president next year.
''I sincerely hope if Dennis has declined, that the chair will reconsider and reappoint Katy,'' Lieberman said, adding that she's sure the council would allow the commissioner to maintain her seniority.
Miami-Dade Commissioner Sally Heyman, who sits on the council with Sorenson, agreed, as did Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Alvarez.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Miami Herald Loco Coverage

Miami Herald writer Tyler Bridges has gone out of his mind in neocolonial grief. He is writing about a trade agreement that was dead before it started. He mentions, quite in obvious error that Uruguay supports Miami getting the headquarters for this non-existent entity and a few paragraphs later contradicts this. Obviously Uruguay’s Socialist government, which opposes the FTAA altogether would not support Miami as its HQ. He also mentions support from President Toledo of Peru, who terms out of office in a couple of months. It’s all rather baffling. Of course FTAA talk has went from headlines to disappearing from the Herald before this bizarre story.

So now for a brief discussion on neocolonial trade with Miamista. What traditionally happens in trade between the developing and developed world is that Third World nations give up their resources and provide cheap labor and we provide added value through our marketing and technological expertise, selling the product in our market at greatly increased products. Miami has always taken a contrarian view, (with the obvious exception of cocaine). We look to sell U.S. consumer products to the tiny group of Latin American consumers that can afford it. Why doesn’t it work? The entire economy of Latin America is equivalent to California. The traditional strength of Miami’s relationships has been with Columbia, Venezuela and Central America. The combined GNP of Central America is about $136 billion. Colombia and Venezuela are at about $83 billion each. To put that in perspective Kentucky or South Carolina each have a state product of $136 billion. Utah or Arkansas produce about $83 billion. So what we are focusing is high end trade with Arkansas and Kentucky.

The last place that Venezuelan state owned Citgo, whose U.S. operations are located in Texas, Illinois and New Jersey wants to do business with is Miami. We cannot offer the technological expertise and we have a hostile far right political climate. We should be telling Venezuela and other Mercosur states that regardless of politics we want to do business. Instead we are pursuing the political agenda of the leaders of our mini-state and losing money for it.

Is it too late for Miami to insert itself into the mainstream of Latin American trade? Miami has many advantages, including a bilingual workforce and cultural familiarity with Latin America but that is not enough. Miami must consider refocusing its relationship to Latin American producers rather than consumers and creating a technology/ marketing/ manufacturing base that would concentrate on the U.S., European and Asian markets.

Gulf coast ports, especially New Orleans and Houston handle the majority of cargo with Latin America. Energy and petrochemicals for example, has been lucrative for Gulf ports precisely because of the technological expertise.


Ana Veciana Suarez, writer of wistful little home life/morality pieces for the Herald has pled guilty to contempt of court. While awarding former felony suspect Mariano Martinez a few hundred thousand in his malicious prosecution case Ana conveniently omitted that she is the daughter of Tony Montana, I mean Antonio “Perico” Veciana. While I am fearful that she will bust a cap in my monkey ass, it was too funny to let this go by without comment. Ana’s father, the coke don running the East Coast operations of The Corporation was hemmed up at Atlanta Federal a couple of decades ago but he is out on the streets these days, making moves. Ana's refusal to remove herself when no explanation was required proves what some already know. Ana's wistful articles are a front for a tough as nails broad that always sides with the underbelly. If you ever need to know what’s going on with Colombian flake just let chica at the Herald know, she’s got the tight connection.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

When does dysfunction stop being funny?

Item #1: Okay, let me start with good news. Please don't say, "You ended affirmative action, Jeb", or "You raised tuition", or "Most of the poor in Florida happen to be White and Florida leads the nation both in our overall drop out rate and WHITE drop out rate" or... I need to feel good about Florida for a second and when you read the REST of the post you will see why I am struggling. But first let us praise Jeb and his PR people-

"'Bush urges increases to encourage minorities' Associated Press, Posted on Wed, Jan. 11, 2006: Gov. Jeb Bush on Wednesday recommended sharp budget increases to boost minority enrollments in Florida's universities and colleges. The governor wants state lawmakers to spend an additional $52.4 million in the 2006-07 budget to provide more scholarships and need-based financial aid. The largest chunk, $35.8 million, would be for those faced with the most severe financial barriers."

Note: When I mention money grubbing and shady doings at the Imagine Miami, Public Health Trust, Camillus House, and many other of our area institutions that are supposed to be doing public good it hurts me tremendously. I chose work that I thought would make me helpful to society but I found that in Miami it just put me face to face with the most corrupt, insular and unenlightened group of public lechers I have ever encountered. I have stepped in more times than I care to remember to try to make something bad a little better. It has damaged some of the business that I do. I have had to shift professions. I’m not a martyr here. I have let things go that I shouldn’t have. Miami’s corruption and vileness are heart breaking. I may never live in Miami permanently because of it, and I find myself spending less and less time there. Corruption exists everywhere but it is a way of life here that causes poverty and desperation among the most vulnerable.

Upcoming: I have an article coming up about UM, FIU’s Public Health Program and Camillus House and this article and this. It also has to do with this. I happen to be privy to the gory details from friends and old contract management work. I have to be careful I don’t hurt some folks I know so I will re-edit. That asshole Paul Ahr that replaced the asshole Dale Simpson is proof that the culture of cover up and tolerance for vileness and corruption in the Catholic Church goes beyond what they do with banking and little boys. When I do release the story expect a sordid tale of theft of donations, clothes, homeless prostitution rings and slavery, abuse of the mentally ill and fraud. As the stories I referenced mention, expect human guniea pig trials on the homeless and mentally ill/mentally retarded. It's so friggin' depressing...

Item #2: Police Chief Timoney may have accomplished relatively little in reducing violent crime in a city that leads the nation in this area (at a time when big cities are reporting record decreases) but he is cracking down on code enforcement, lending a hand to our NET enforcement folks. Who is he targeting? Homes with junk cars, strewn garbage, broken fences, jam packed animal kennels for back yards, etc; businesses with gambling machines and illegal alcohol sales, etc. Too bad they cannot outlaw mullet hair cuts, spike heels and jeans, excessive and out of scale lawn statuary, Jesus Saves bumper stickers, excessive car ornamentation, shiny clothes, bad perfume, unreasonable dye jobs, and the use of the word "classy"...

A major focus for Manny Diaz has been code enforcement of illegal (unsightly and dangerous) add-ons, unzoned rentals, parking lots and high traffic business in residential buildings for over three years.

The biggest crackdown has been one that I am ambivalent about. As any Miamian knows we have “cafeterias” throughout our city that offer whores, gambling, drugs and parking lot violence. These little shops are like a vice fest! And they sell food too if you want to add gluttony to the mix. There is part of Miamista that could see himself as the proprietor of such an establishment, (which I would call Big Daddy’s). We would have the requisite pool tables and booths and bookies and numbers runners would drop by, giving me a cut of the action. I know these places are horrible and have multiple ill effects. But who doesn’t want to be a mini vice lord?

Mayor Diaz, who I have repeatedly disparaged, with good cause, has imagined that Rudy Giuliani like focus on “quality of life” will be his lasting legacy. He is good at addressing, verbally, his failings (while always assigning them to someone else) and he is also good at the slight gesture. For instance Diaz addressed the loss of our urban canopy by replacing palms with live oaks (which once graced many of our thoroughfares). At the same time he was destroying park space, and limiting impact fees that would pay for parks and public landscaping. Manny Boy has even made comments about the educational system (outside of his purview) which may be the worse in the nation.

Still this is a failure of a mayor- a failure on poverty, a failure on historic preservation, a failure on parks, a failure on affordable housing, a failure on race relations, a failure on traffic abatement, a failure on violent crime, a failure on administration (impact fees, timely of implementation of zoning laws, hiring of qualified personnel, transparent contracting). If he turned it around now he would be half a failure. Not too long ago I was in a debate with someone at the Herald who strongly supported the mayor. His defense of the mayor was, in end and full, that it was better than the Mayor Loco days when we were a laughing stock of the world. Someone with us pointed out to him several recent reports stating that Miami the city leads the nation in every major type of fraud (except securities)- mortgage, property insurance, auto insurance, Medicaid, worker’s compensation, money laundering and public works. The Herald writer believed that it was the Herald’s responsibility to portray the city in the best possible light to make up for the negative press that the city has garnered in the recent past. I am not sure that the writer understood just what a failure he was as a journalist.

Item #3: have we found the latest escapee with the long violent crime wrap sheet? I mean this isn't really an item, I just don't want to look at anymore disturbing news or disturbingly bad reporting.

Items of Info.

Item#1: Time for another Redland Riot Fruity History Tour. January 14. While you're there you will see another reason why the County Commision sucks.

Item #2: "Alleged spy couple did not recruit. The Cuban government may have asked a Florida International University couple to recruit South Florida youths for their alleged spying on the exile community, but law-enforcement officials say no evidence shows the husband-and-wife team actually did any recruiting. Posted on Wed, Jan. 11, 2006 By NOAH BIERMAN AND JAY WEAVER - The most provocative piece of this week's federal case against a pair of Florida International University employees claims the Cuban government directed the couple to recruit young Americans to spy for Fidel Castro. But three U.S. government sources say they have no evidence Elsa and Carlos M. Alvarez accomplished that part of their mission."

Glad to see that story in the MH. I was scared that I might be called in. Really, "spy for Fidel Castro". I would readily drop dime on any terrorist I happen to run into or any other chance I got. These Posada and Bosch type of folks are self-described terrorists because they believe in targeting innocent civilians and are focused on sabotging the well being of the overall population. Terrorism is wrong. (And considering the background of our Miami extreme right, this ain't war of the poor and oppressed here.)

Again, Carlos Alvarez and his wife OPENLY TRAVELLED TO CUBA on a REGULAR BASIS along with student and faculty groups, and both were known to be a strong opponents of extremist exile groups that engage in wanton violence and whom our government has allowed to operate for political reasons. Where is all the cloak and dagger necessary? (The only thing Dr. Alvarez had to fear was exile extremist and that fear is entirely valid.)

Item #3.: As many of you know I am a supporter of Timoney's hiring. After that whole Elian fiasco we needed an outsider. Having said that, I assumed that his not so clear baggage with CrimeStat a program began by New York City Police Department and the whole NYC and Philly underreporting thing was out in the open and addressed by the media here. New York print media addressed the problems of NYPD sweeping crime under the rug at the behest of pols but it did not get any traction in a feel good era in the city. I know Broward had its own scandal and the highly manipulatible Crimestat program also came into play. New York now has a crime rate lower than St. Petersburg allegedly but that may or may not really be the case.

A good way to check for accurate crime stats is to review emergency room records against reported crimes over a given period. Another way is to actually investigate individual instances against crimes reported. Who would actually do any of these things in Miami?

New York top law enforcement administrators have been recruited to head law enforcement throughout the country in the past decade because of the city's success. Over a dozen major cities have NYPD former top brass and NYC police middle management and street level cops (second in size in the U.S. as an armed force only to our actual U.S. Armed Forces) are prominent in Florida's municipal police. That means the culture of NY law enforcement, good and bad, has come to our area in a big way.

I support the "broken window" and foot patrolling tactics of uberfather of urban law enforcement William Bratton. What some forget is that he also stressed youth programs and social service referrals integrated into policing. NY PAL is way past little league teams; it has went on to engage in job development, college prep programs, youth diversion, mentoring, etc. He was also suspicious of attempts by underlings (which Timoney was one) to fudge statistics using the Crimestat program he created. When Bratton was NYPD chief police shootings were at record lows, when he left NY police shootings doubled in two years. So NY seems to have two divergent but outwardly effective crime fighting cultures. It seems that politicians do not care exactly whether success is always real.

For me the jury is still out on Timoney. God knows Miami is a mine-field. We just need our press to make sure that every thing is above-board. As if...

Monday, January 09, 2006

Sentenced for Acts Against the Counter-Revolution

Miami Herald, Posted on Mon, Jan. 09, 2006, BY JAY WEAVER AND NOAH BIERMAN, - A Florida International University professor and his wife, both accused of being foreign agents for Cuba's communist government, were denied bond today. Federal Magistrate Andrea Simonton said Carlos M. Alvarez, 61, and his wife, Elsa, 55, posed a flight risk if allowed to return to their South Miami home. ''I believe they would go back to Cuba,'' Simonton said. The couple were arrested Friday by federal agents and appeared in Miami federal court Monday. They are accused of serving as foreign agents for Cuba without registering with the U.S. government, as is required by law. Carlos Alvarez is an associate professor of educational leadership and policy studies. Elsa Alvarez is an administrator at FIU.”

I am acquainted with Mr. Alvarez, having worked at FIU and having several relatives and friends who have served as administrators there. This whole affairs stinks to the heavens of rotten banana peels! It seems the Junta has once again convened to issue charges against enemies of the (banana) Republic.

Note that we are still releasing people into the streets that killed and plan to kill innocent people. Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada Carriles took down a plane with the junior national girls and boys fencing team of Cuba along with a bunch of other innocents from Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad. Other terrorists now loose upon our streets killed and maimed Cuban civilians, European vacationers, Latin American politicians and civilians, student activists, etc., etc. A large number of the victims of these terrorists have been American citizens of Cuban heritage.

In pursuit of dubious foreign policy goals our government supported and trained some of the worst terrorists and mass murderers for years. As these bloody henchmen were reshuffled Miami served as a haven for these torturers and mass murderers. I would like to say that this is a thing of the past and I believe there is much evidence to support this. Obviously there are a handful of hopeful future terrorists who have not gotten the message.

I don’t believe Carlos and Elsa Alvarez did anything besides submit articles for Cuban papers and give speeches about their views and news about the actions and behavior of some of the worse sort of radicals that live in our community. It would be difficult to see them as some deep cover infiltrators of these sorts of networks since their views were pretty well known.

Like many Cuban Americans in Miami, the professor would speak his mind outside of the sovereign state of Miami but would be more taciturn on volatile issues regarding Latin America in unknown or hostile company. We all know that in Miami the wrong views can cost you at the very least your job. (I should point out here that Mr. Andres Pastrana may come off not so well but he is a pretty good guy. He placed a number of people under a South Florida Workforce contract I oversaw.)

It is not illegal to write for Cuban papers and their travel to Cuba has been as academicians. (Even if it wasn’t how many thousands of Cuban Americans visit and even reside part time in Cuba, traveling through third counties?) These people are obviously being targeted here in Miami because of their (legal) views and activities, which rather than being clandestine, were too well known.

I am here in New York where I cannot turn on a cable broadcast without hearing a Guevara or Chavez speech or hear someone lauding the Cuban Revolution full throttle. In college it seemed every other professor was sponsoring his or her humpteenth trip to Cuba. While visiting myself I encounter fellow Cuban Americans who are apolitical and others who are supportive of the Revolution, and I see teams of foreigners from immigrants to students to visitors from other lands. I have come to terms that people differ, even if I find their views unfathomable.

I neither look at Castro as the Devil himself anymore than I look at pre-Revolutionary Cuba as anything less than a repressive, poverty stricken police state run by a U.S. stooge. Latin America has many sorts of dysfunction, some of which were caused by our own failings, (including our colonial, genocidal and slavery tainted history) and other failings induced by U.S. imperialism and neocolonialism. I strongly believe that Cuba and much of Latin America is deeply troubled and I have my own ideas about solutions but none of them involve Miami terrorists and those who long for the good old days of pre-Revolutionary misery, racism, classism and subjugation.

From our interesting, albeit few conversations on the topic I believe that Mr. Alvarez also believes that there are many failings in Cuba which must be remedied, by the people of Cuba. I also gleaned from his words that he believed that the Cuban people deserve to be free of threats of foreign invasion and terrorism. Such a reasonable position, even if it is in error, is not cause to jail a person.

PS I HATE writing about these things as it will give ammunition to all of the Cuban hating assholes. Note, it is a Cuban who in my opinon is being victimized; and remember there are extremists of all backgrounds.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Bennett Brummer and the Bitches that Hate Him

While reading "The Bitch", the column by the tactless, insecure, unprofessional broad that works for the Miami New Times, I saw that she was trying to play up a website that has been defaming Bennett Brummer. I admittedly love the guy. Never worked for him, I just know that he cares a lot about the disenfranchised, especially youth of color, in Miami. I have seen him come by to lend support for community programs I was involved when he could have been doing something else. I have also seen him just flip into "legal saviour" and pull a few strings to help folks out on his personal time. He flies below the radar and doesn't toot his own horn though he does a great deal. I know of some of the ring leaders that disparaged him, including Lynn Overmann and Lonnie Richardson, and I know of some of the other players so I decided to give you all my take.

A couple of years ago a few frustrated employees, including Overmann, (whom I will here on out call Tacky Hoe) being one of them, decided they would like to run the Public Defender’s office that they toiled in as low level attorneys (for an average of say 3 years). Tacky Hoe and company explicitly stated to the an unwary media that Gabriel Martin was selected from their group because he is Cuban, and based on that fact alone he was qualified. Yes, this was Tacky Hoe and company's outlandishly racist assertion.

The long time Public Defender, Bennet Brummer is one of the major figures in American jurisprudence. He has worked internationally, especially in Latin America, in setting up public advocate offices. He has pioneered many innovative programs, including hiring social workers for his office, helping establish a drug court and developing antiviolence efforts in the community. He has been elected head of the National Association of Public Defenders more often than any attorney in the country. The office is one of the few Miami public institutions that recruits nationally from the best legal talent. Because of Brummer’s stature he is able to bring in the best and brightest from throughout the country, most of whom do not plan on permanently practicing in Florida. Brummer's folk recruit regardless of race, something else that makes them stand WAY out in Miami. Brummer's office has been the training ground for some top legal eagles including Roy Black and H.T. Smith; Brummer maybe the only Miami area public official that actual is respected nationally. He is passionately active in low income African American and Hispanic communities, volunteering his efforts in juvenile programs. Every major bar association including the Cuban American Bar Association has repeatedly endorsed him. The Miami Herald charged that they were too good, releasing too many bad characters upon the street. Maybe true, but that’s his job!

Gabriel Martin, well, hmmm, let's see- he worked for three years as a lawyer after dropping out of a fellowship program at Georgetown. In all fairness I hear he is a good guy, pretty intelligent, who was open to any opportunities that might come by. So he seemingly decided, "screw it, I'll give it a go". Martin remained respectful in his comments and seemingly above board in his actions during the campaign but the same could not be said of his camp.

Tacky Hoe and company decided to go all out. They tore down his campaign posters and disparaged him with blatant lies and distortions within the community. They made up misleading campaign materials. They circulated nasty letters. They even tried to mislead Black voters into thinking that Gabe was a brutha while playing the Latino race card full blast in Spanish media. I heard that Tacky Hoe even had her mother helping her by picking up and using Miami-Dade College mail services and personnel to send campaign materials (which happens to be against the law.) I know that Gabriel Martin was savvy enough to know that this wired up chick was trying to pimp him. He took the high road, not disparaging Bennett Brummer. Tacky Hoe and company took every opportunity to.

They charged that there were some senior lawyers that didn’t try cases for years, only training new lawyers, supervising and handling paperwork. (I believe they are fulfilling the needed responsibilities of ADMINISTRATORS.) They claimed that there was pressure to support Bennett Brummer in the office. If there was it surely was no more than what was occurring with the Martin-Tacky Hoe cabal.

Tacky and company also leaked a story to the Herald. Seems a disgusting Cuban American lawyer in a verbal altercation with a Black lawyer called him all kinds of niggers and black so and so’s. Following the brouhaha some Cuban lawyers said that the the Cuban American attorney involved in the incident was subject to undue negative media coverage and that Brummer, influenced by the publicity, was in danger of going overboard. It should be noted that Brummer didn’t particularly like this particular lawyer (shouldn't have mentioned that) so maybe he was inclined to be harsh. There were conflicting accounts but Bennetts investigation found that the lawyer in question did make some some sort of racial slurs. He closed the matter by issuing a filed reprimand and month unpaid suspension. Get this, in an effort to divide the office, Gabriel Martin’s tacky henchmen stated that this was racially insensitive.

Part of Miami’s dysfunction is that because there is such a limited private sector people need to rely upon the public sector as an outlet for their ambition. I call it the Rusty Melton syndrome (after the Herald reporter for hire who eventually came out the closet and opened a major lobbying firm.) The legal economy revolves around public spending.

So when some of these folks get into Mr. Brummer’s office like Tacky Hoe they realize, “Shit, there is no room for upward mobility here and no one is hiring a White attorney in this town. For a gringo Miami is like being beached on an island with hostile natives. Let me latch on to a local Cuban because they run city politics this side of the bay or at least that’s what the Herald says.”

Bennett Brummer received a nationwide (and I am not exagerrating) outpouring of support and was reelected. Gabriel Martin offered some obligatory respectful words and slithered away. Being lawyers several members of the Tacky Hoe crew decided they would sue. After several costly years of litigation the office settled for $200,000 for the main suit, far less than it would cost to continue litigation against a lawyer with time on their hands.

Now here is an excerpt from the Bitch (who I respected for her unrepentant bitchiness) prior to her own Tacky Hoe conversion-“Attorney Gabriel Martin is challenging his former boss Bennett Brummer in the election for Miami-Dade County Public Defender. Martin faced Brummer, who has held the job for 28 years, on July 17 at a forum sponsored by the Unrepresented People's Positive Action Council (UPPAC). During the debate, Walter Harvey, president of the Wilkie D. Ferguson, Jr. Bar Association (formerly the Black Lawyers Association), asked Martin about his involvement in Miami's black legal community. Martin responded that he'd met with local leaders, among them the president of the Ferguson Bar Association. That came as a surprise to Harvey, who said he did not recall ever speaking with the candidate. Martin explained: "I said that I had been talking with Kenneth Walton, the president of Wilkie D. Ferguson [Bar Association] through July 1. I wasn't embarrassed, I was surprised. They never indicated there was a new president." Obviously Gabriel Martin and crew could care less about what was going on even with Black fellow LAWYERS. Tacky indeed!

I believe that whole clique doesn’t give two shits about the overwhelmingly Black, poor defendants that come into the Public Defender’s office. When I think of Tacky Hoe encountering a Black guy who isn’t wearing a tie, I’m sure she is clutching her purse doing double time. Usually I am tolerant, even supportive of opportunism and ambition but Tacky Hoe and company won't let it rest and they don't care if they screw over a real good guy- and that is what defines a Tacky Hoe. So I say all the prospective Tacky Hoes, yeah, I know Miami is rough but go get a real freakin’ corporate job with all the pay and perks and stop trying to whore up to anyone you think can get you ahead. No, I actually don't care about who you whore up, just be more selective who you screw over.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Miami's New Year's Resolution: Climb Out of Poverty and Dysfuntion Part 2

Educational research institutions. Miami failed to get Scripps because of the local insular, anti-intellectual crowd. Broward has put the skids on almost all new high density redevelopment fearing that it will lose its suburban character. This was understandable public backlash to a lack of planning and infrastructure. It does not mean a shortage of land. Areas east along the FEC rapid transit corridor should be opened to medium rise urban development thus precluding the need for shifting the urban boundary or building costly roadways.

Repairing our business links with Latin America. The inability to deal with those on the new Latin American left is hurting the Miami economy. New York and Washington created the policies of currency manipulation, debt slavery and onerous economic prescriptions. There is no reason for Miami to be burdened by the resentment and mistrust that those policies engendered. To this point South Florida has fashioned itself as a market for Latin American purchasing power. This has always had severe limitations. It is now great timing to reverse our relationship with Latin America as an entry point for Latin American access to the U.S. market.

Community Development Imagining beyond Imagine (Miami). A huge portion of grants for our community based organizations go through the Miami Dade Alliance for Human Services and Miami Dade Human Services Coalition, who get a cut off the top. So far they have given us the Imaginative (as in Imagine Miami) Greater Prosperity Program for food stamps, Medicaid (which has already been capped) and Tax Preparation as an answer to poverty. Both organizations have had some significant problems with grant fulfillment and reporting, not to mention a limited amount of funding. The idea is that by being a pass through agency they can present themselves to funders to gain a larger amount of money. In fact that is just the problem. A small group of gate keepers lack the ability of multiple agencies. They inevitably compete with agencies. In this case they also are a way too close to government when a large part of what community service agencies are supposed to do is advocacy. The county would have done much better if it had housed a branch of the New York based Foundation Center. (It is the major training agency and clearinghouse for national grant giving foundations.) Miami is the poorest city in the U.S. and Miami-Dade is one of the poorest urban counties. This sort of (unfortunate) demographic competitive edge in grant applications has done us little good with our current system. According to Mark Weaver of the Florida ACDC we were dead last in the country in every aspect of community building.

I am normally annoyed beyond belief with the Miami Herald's Andres Oppenheimer. I believe he may have been right about Latin American universities are not enrolling many students in math, science and technology. The quality of Latin American higher education is increasingly uneven. This means that we have to make up a deficit with our immigrant community’s “educated” middle class as well as the more numerous unskilled, semi-skilled and undereducated. I suppose the three ways to answer this would be to strengthen our capacity to add technical skills through local community colleges, and encourage domestic in-migration and more rounded, global migration.

Miami's New Year's Resolution: Climb Out of Poverty and Dysfuntion Part 1

Here is a reintroduction of some of issues and possible solutions to Miami's persistent poverty. I have addressed many of these issues in previous posts but I think it is importnat that we not forget that Miami suffers from the smallest middle class, largest income disparity and highest rate of poverty of any large city in America. With the slowdown of real estate development we are in jeopardy of losing the little progress that we have had on the employment front.

Downtown educational corridor. Miami’s downtown is still way underutilized. The development that is going on is largely on the waterfront. Miami’s traditional downtown is still unattractive, dirty and disorderly. A great way to reinvigorate it would be to create an educational corridor. As it is U.M. is entirely isolated from the city it is named for and FIU continues to be a commuter school in a poverty stricken suburb. Nova, UF, and FAU all run programs in Miami-Dade so there is the chance that we may lure even more schools from outside. I hate to say it but I think that Ft. Lauderdale got the jump on us by creating an educational campus downtown for FIU, FAU and Nova beside the downtown BCC campus. What none of these schools have offered to this point is student housing. If housing and parking were offered it would be possible for downtown Miami to increase the amount of 24 hour activity and draw in investment from national retailers.

We rank dead last in graduation and Miami-Dade has more D and F schools than any county in the state. We also have the lowest proportion of any major city of those with a high school level education. After school educational programs, national recruitment of educators and higher pay for teachers; increased magnet schools; increased English language programs and adult diploma programs; childcare for adult students. If there is a problem with the FCAT the county can switch to the NABE and the PSAT and SAT as measuring tools. We should not blame testing for low performance in our schools. I also have no problem with the voucher program per se. The problem is that private schools in Florida are not sufficiently monitored for quality. With the state supreme court ruling this is no longer an issue.

Mixed use, mixed income and redevelopment of poor areas. I have never opposed redevelopment of Overtown, or Little Haiti, Wynwood, Little Havana or the West Grove. Poverty should never be concentrated. At the same time we have to have set asides for low income housing throughout the city. In other cities community development corporations have achieved remarkable success. Here, because of unchecked endemic corruption they have proven to be an unmitigated failure. We may need to work with nationally based agencies to develop housing set asides. Rent controlled units in new developments should also be explored though there are questions about the integrity of our government which is necessary for oversight of such programs.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Talking Pictures in Hollywood

Okay, it's L.A. check in time for Miamista. I don't feel like talking about Miami. I have a few entry topics which will have to wait. When you're in L.A. you should see film yes? Could have done the free yet-to-be-released fill-out-the-questionnaire movies in Santa Monica. (You have to love the fact that your input could force a change of ending.) Instead I did the coffee house movie thing with some friends two days ago. I enjoy seeing well shot films in the theater. I heard that our film for the night was visually impressive.

It was the sci-fi "It's All About Love" with Joaquin Phoenix and Claire Danes, released in 2004. It was alright, with beautiful cinematography at times. I won't burden you with my own plot synopsis. I am hoping you already saw it to get my point here.

I could not believe how thick people were becoming. In the obligatory post film convo there were a couple of people in our party that totally missed the point. Shit, all of them did. The obvious symbolism was the coldness of our society.

The associates of Claire Danes' character were representative of modern society for whom she (and all of us) are disposable role players. Her associates know people by knowing some facts, not how she felt or who she actually was. That she was a celebrated figure skater even made it that more pointed; we care know even less about the famous (fake) people that we want to emulate. Her society is one that is filled with worry and fear that are often vague but real. It is the ultimate cold world- legalistic, grasping, false, assured by its own existence; within it is utter heartlessness.

It is a world where the danger, even impending doom is masked by mundane activities, order, dysfunctional priorities and media chatter. The economic and social system is so effortlessly controlling that an attempt to escape it can mean that your brother will turn on you.The film means to convey that our world is in a state of semi-civilized self destruction. As our hearts grow colder our world grows colder. The environment is nature, but not just nature, it is our way of relating to each other and eventually our capacity to love each other. The too distant humanity of the Third World, (warranting a spare mention in news reports and cocktail parties) is perhaps not as cold but increasing untethered to the physical world and human society by harsh physical/economic.

The film is a sweeping indictment of the dissolution of family and personal relationships, devaluation of the essential individual, ignoral of dispossessed people, egoism, mindless ambition, social dishonesty and environmental destruction. (A little depressing for sure, but I dare you to argue against it.)

By using a familiar yet strange world of the near future made eerie by photography, make-up, lighting, scene set-up and music you are drawn in, looking for a barely existent plot. The symbolism is not guised and clever but attempts a wholistic portrayal of the overall theme.If the messages have been oft heard and tuned out by the ear, the film makers hope a dream-like production will reach your psyche. (Definitely not as successful as the spooky-primordial film about our relationship with and capacity for hurt, anguish, violence and mortality in "A Mere Formality".) I am not sure "It's All About Love" accomplished this but hell, I am writing about it.

So all I heard was, "I didn't get the story, man it was unbelievable." Has Hollywood dumbed us all down to this degree? If anything the damn movie was too obvious and ham-fisted in what it was trying to communicate. My frustration for the day was this- it would have been better if we would have been able to talk about it. (I probably won't publish this.)