12 CDs for the Price of 1!

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Overtown Questions

First let me state this- Omar Sommereyns at the Miami Sun Post is not only back to form, he is shaping up to be one of the best journalists in Miami these days, which may not be as boast-worthy as it could be. Ahh, but in his efforts he dealt another blow to the weary and sore.

His article this week about a group of well intentioned Overtown residents hinted at a ray of hope in that dismal precinct. From my contract management work I had been aware that a group had formed a neighborhood organization named "Power U". I met its founders while attending community gatherings with a friend who is an activist in Overtown. I joked about the name of the organization which had been popular street slang in New York for a lady's nether regions. Closer reading of Omar’s article revealed that the name was not the only unfortunate attribute of these particular Overtown residents.

I need not go into the history of the city’s perfidy in dealing with this neighborhood. The reason is not simply because most informed people are aware of the history; Overtown’s present and future problems are so pressing.

The article concentrated on affordable housing as the chief issue facing local residents. This was not because Omar steered in this direction. Residents are preoccupied with this issue. If affordable housing was at the crux of Overtown‘s difficulties that would have meant that the community is confronting its problems. But it isn’t. Income levels among Overtown residents is the problem.

That is not to say affordable housing is a plentiful commodity throughout Miami-Dade or even in this low rent district. It isn't. We need to provide affordable housing opportunities in Overtown and throughout the region.

The last thing any developer, homeowner or upper income renter wants is to have a bunch of poor people around. More to the point, the last thing that helps the poor are to be congregated into a single area. In the Sun Post article an Overtown resident and Power U member seems to state that maintaining current residents or getting former residents to return to the area would create a healthier community with better housing. Of course it would not. His point does raise the issue of what plans there are for providing housing for current residents. And this is where we encounter more convoluted suggestions, not by stressed residents; but by people whose job is to provide workable solutions.

Frank Rollason, head of the Overtown CRA has an on-demand hand wringing performance that he has repeately offered for public consumption. He would like to create set aside condos for the po' folks of Overtown but suggests that nothing can be it would cause new, insurmountable obstacles like maintenance fees or insurance. Obviously no one promotes putting the poorest of the poor in the most expensive units of a multi-million dollar condo. He knows the issue is greater than a single condo building but the character of development throughout the neighborhood. This red herring that Frank puts out there is to wholly avoid the issue of affordable housing. Frank’s bosses have another plan.

As noted in the article, the Miami Zoning Board unanimously approved a zoning change for a Royal Palm “workforce/employee housing” project at 1200 NW First Ave. and 115 NW 12th St., despite a recommendation for denial from the city’s planning staff. Miamista has chronicled in other postings that Mayor Dickhead and his chubby little prick Mini-Me Arriola are known for intimidating city department heads into doing exactly as told. And what they are being told is to turn land over to developers for little money so the mayor's buddies can indulge in speculation that the market doesn’t support.

Racism is also at play here. Few poor residents of Little Havana are not being pushed out of their neighborhoods to provide giveaways to developers. Instead the mayor wants to create order in these neighborhoods, with his quality of life policing initiatives jointly enforced by NET offices and the MPD. For all of the poverty in Little Havana, at least the neighborhood seems to have economic activity. In the minds of Mayor Dickhead and his crew however, Blacks in Overtown seem to be hopelessly hopeless. He may be right.

There is no plan whatsoever by the residents and leaders, elected or otherwise, to address the issue of poverty itself. The neighborhood needs job training, after school educational programs, career exploration and child care. There is a dearth of clinics offering health care for the poor (especially preventative, dental and eye care). Residents need access to capital, entrepreneurial education and tax abatement to foster new businesses. Instead local residents are fixated on low cost housing.

There has been talk of some of this, great ideas dropped as quickly as they were brought up. Talk of building a new technical instruction center in Overtown by the Miami Dade School Board. And since Miami Dade College created a campus based on the particular needs of an ethnic group in Hialeah, (a stones throw from North Campus), they can open a satellite campus in Overtown. Imagine such a school offering instruction strictly in licensed professions, technology and entrepreneurial education. Imagine.

So there is no pursuit of ideas and no pursuit of housing initiatives. Two years ago the Herald did a two part investigation about how the city misused $35 million in federal funds designated for affordable housing. The money was siphoned off to corrupt local non-profits with connections to city leaders. Virtually no housing was built. The federal government cut funding. So now there is no money. The mayor and his minions, including his then “urban policy advisor” Michelle Spence-Jones had little to say.

Besides poverty, what Overtown still has is vacant land and substandard housing. The city has failed to aggressively go after slumlords, owners of neglected lots, and other delinquents. It also has made it clear that speculative, out of character projects will be approved rather than upgraded, affordable housing. The city stubbornly refuses to assemble a portfolio of properties to turn over to competent community development corporations to build affordable housing and retail space for local residents, business owners and entrepreneurs. It does not place municipal buildings in the neighborhood. The only initiative of Miami’s festering leadership is to screw over the poor and give the spoils to rich cronies.

So I have to remember that I may not always want journalists to ask the hard questions. I think Omar knows that asking some questions will get us news that we don’t want to hear. Still, great work Omar.

P.S. There are updates/additions to the last two articles. And thanks for the comments.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Miamista Has All the Answers

(So I'm trying out a hideous scheme that doesn't reflect my moodiness b/c of one too many complaints from Mama. There is also an easier reading version of my last post.)

Something fresh these days in Miami seems like it is in short supply. There is a general test you can apply to see if things are getting stale or if there is really progress. If like a soap opera, you go away for a year, come back and its the same bull shit...

It so happens that I don’t think Miami is in THAT bad of a rut. Five years ago it seemed that one portion of the population was happy to snipe away without any real hope. Another portion of people felt that they had to support buffoons and scoundrels because they thought, “Hey, they’re OUR buffoons and scoundrels“. Today it seems that few people are willing to settle for clownishly bad leadership. Now, as to what to actually do about it.

So let's revisit some of the "samo". (Bear with me if this is not sufficiently trenchant or breif.) Problems-1. MIA, 2. Transit, 3. Urban and regional planning, 4. Public education, 5. Higher education/research facilities, 6. Crime, 7. Fraud, 8. Corruption, 9. Insularity, 10. Poverty, 11. Leadership. Answers-

1. MIA: An independent MIA authority is the short answer. An independent authority in itself is no cure all. The idea is to distance politicians from (temptation) direct oversight, while creating a body with more checks than politicians would want to accept themselves. An oversight authority usually accedes to stringent rules prohibiting possible conflicts of interest, has longer terms, and widely drawn membership. Highly qualified business, community and civic leaders, professional planners/ administrators, lawyers and accountants are selected. They work cooperatively to bring more time and resources to the supervision of large municipal projects.

2. Transportation- Again, an independent oversight authority is needed for our more ambitious projects. The county department of transportation does not have the capacity to supervise mega projects. Mega projects connected to the overall expansion scheme such as the Metrorail expansion, Baylink, the Intermodal Center are badly needed; they’re also boondoggles in the making. We can anticipate ridiculous overruns in time and money without proper oversight. The most important project, the FEC North-South commuter rail is still being debated. Reason #39 for a beefed up SFRPC (South Florida Regional Planning Council).

3. Urban and regional planning: Miami 21 is a great piece of urban planning if and when it takes effect. Problem is that the purview of the city is limited. Miami-Dade and the region need to cooperate on a regional master plan. Reason #53 for a beefed up RPC.

4. Public Education: Rudy Crew and a new bond issue. Crew can be relied upon to provide support to educators as well as back accountability measures. He will also work to recruit the best educators, create magnet schools, demote failing on-site administration and create institutional partnerships (especially with colleges and community agencies). The replacement of Marta Perez in the next election would be a plus. Marta Perez has proven herself to be a classic demagogue whose ambition has gotten in the way of any better instincts she may have possessed. And here is something new to consider- educational requirements for board members. (There is no way an a school board member should not possess at least a Bachelors degree.)

5. Higher Ed and Research: Hurts me to say it. FIU has proven entirely dysfunctional. Administrators are rejects from WalMart's enslaved alien workers program. It continues to lose its best educators, who are in short supply in the best of circumstances and now it has a crisis of leadership. The board of trustees seriously needs to be overhauled. There is a dictum in higher education about trustee boards that goes “give, get or get out”. Trustee positions are not honorific life titles. They are supposed to be held by people actively engaged in raising funds and/or people that have serious academic and administrative backgrounds. Then there is the role of the state in all of this- There is an urgent need for increased spending, and professional, depoliticized state university leadership. We also need more bold (but less generous) state and local initiatives like Scripps.

UM is in need of a PR overhaul. Usually I am not an advocate of PR as an answer to administrative problems. Deteriorating physical plant, unattractive buildings and struggling research programs have to be addressed. On the other hand, UM has the breadth of programs, history, name recognition and singular regional presence to be an elite national university. Unfortunately its renown is limited to weather (Suntan U) and football. It has a (relatively small) number of top flight programs that are too often overlooked. Put up a facade, and not just in front of those awful buildings.

MDC, once the most esteemed junior college in the country has lost its way, and for some time. It is now a victim of insularity, ethnic turf claims, local political influences, budget problems and a poorly prepared student inflow. President Padron has held the school together but it is time for outside leadership throughout upper administration. MDC has the same problems as FIU in regards to state funding and its board of trustees.

Expansion- (Follow the alphabets.) FIU should have bought downtown buildings for its business school expansion and its law school but didn’t. Nova and FIU badly want medical schools. FAU has done a remarkable job in expanding its medical program working cooperatively with UM to do so. MDC and FIU are still pretending not to be “Part One” and “Part Two” because of Pres. Mitch‘s ego. UM gave up on FIU long ago, perhaps because of their proximity to that sideshow of educational endeavor at Sweetwater. BTW, the only reason Mitch hasn’t left that den of mentally challenged wolves is because he wants to say he started a medical school. The disastrous Board of Governor presentations, embarrassing accreditation review, the HSET scandal and now the red-baiting- can MIT/Haavahd Mitch take another year? Perhaps his answer is a Nova-FIU joint medical school project.

Note of interest- It would be nice if some of these schools renamed. Nova, Florida International, Florida Atlantic and Miami-Dade College all have the most determinedly proprietary-college sounding names. So who are the richest guys in the neighborhood with a history of giving big to local colleges? Try these last names out and add “University" to the end. Herbert “Shoeless” Wortheim, Mitch “CIA Legacy” Wolfson, Phillip “No-Generics” Frost, Wayne “Dolfan Killer” Huizenga, Jim “Lemon” Moran, George “Horse Killer” Lindemann, Bob “Cracka” Graham. Maybe the richest two Miamians, Micky “Katrina KaChing!” Arison’s cheap ass or his even shadier sister Shari "Soapy Money" Arison will finally come off some dough... And how about “Dade College“ with an Indian Mascot? Just a thought. (The list was chosen on the basis of wealth so don't question the lack of a Hispanic.)

6. Crime: As in “we lead the nation in violent...“ Miami PD- Timoney needs to settle in (right now he is just trying to build political capital), higher pay, more stringent qualifications, community policing. And stronger Community Investigative Panels for every local department.

7.Fraud: Again, we lead the nation in each major category except securities fraud. Expand investigative offices on all levels, beef up inter-agency cooperation, find the antithesis of Fernandez-Rundle in the state attorney office. Increase funding and autonomy for the OIG office (go Chris!). The FBI has opened up special field offices because of local mortgage and insurance fraud and money laundering. There has long been special field offices for the DEA and of course Customs is HQ’d here. Even when the Miami-Dade county police department chipped in by doing fraud and corruption investigations (Brownie Points to Mayor Alvarez) Katherine Fernandez Rundle continued to selectively prosecute.

8.Corruption- Strengthen penalties and investigative powers (OIG), increase transparency and disclosure, simplification of administrative procedures. Employ streamlined and uniform information gathering and thorough external auditing. Interestingly, experts stress that localized preferences in contracts and hiring significantly increase corruption. Move contract awarding process away from the direct control of politicians. Prohibition (for designated number of years) of officials and upper level administrators from engaging in contracts or lobbying with offices formerly under their purview after leaving office or position. Adequate remuneration for elected officials; full time status for elected officials, excluding all other contracted employment.

9. Insularity- Good news and bad news. It’s easier in the public sector to address these problems. National recruiting, higher, nationally (rather than regionally) recognized standards for position qualifications; and end to local preferences in the awarding of contracts. It is more difficult to change the culture of the private sector. This requires new leadership and new perspectives. The Beacon has been telling corporate leaders to “come to Miami“, while whispering under its breath, “stay away, we are insular and focused solely on Caribbean trade“.

10. Poverty- The best anti-poverty program is education. Especially after-school education. After school hours are known as the teen bewitching hours among social scientists. Youth become engaged in delinquency, high risk sexual behavior; there is a lack of constructive activities and supervision. And for the grown-ups, job training programs, adult education and micro-loan programs. The county needs to continue its innovative Section 8 voucher home ownership program, and relaxed loan qualifications that allow future income from rental units to be included. Community development has been riddled with corruption. We need to turn the programs over to reputable national organizations. INCREASE Medicaid and Medicare funding.

11. Who Rules: Who will push for all this? The Herald? Hell no. The Miami New Times? Doubtful. The business community? Not unless someone dusts off the Non-Group; and the Miami Business Forum ain‘t the Non-Group. Again, why is Miamista optimistic? Because of you good folks. I'll come back when you're done.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

How Do You Feel? Or Do You?

(Pic: Miami Rescue Mission, Thanksgiving '06)
Your comments cause reflection-
I get a number of comments and I post almost none of them. I do read many of them however. Most are just additional opinions and perspectives that are interesting but not enough to do a full and thoughtful reply. Many are encouraging comments that I am thankful for. Some are bits of info that lead to new blog entries (though I often pass having limited time and resources to research without making myself open for a lawsuit). Some are critical and still others are just nasty and stupid.

Especially if you're Cuban
I can usually detect the critical and nasty right off. (In the past however I have let the worst sort of comments go unfiltered and I don't have time to deal with a dozen blogs and journals, plus work, etc. so thus goes open comments.) So I opened a comment and thought, another reader has spit his pacifier… But it was from the heart, genuine and well written. The writer is a blogger who I’ve exchanged with once or twice, who stances are in diametric opposition to most of my opinions on foreign policy, especially Latin America. (I believe that we both feel strongly and deeply about the region and want the same things but have totally different reading of history, economics, social theory etc. but that is not what Miamista or this posting is about.) I’m not going to lie. Because it was a Cuban American I bothered to read it through and assess. Yeah, we Cubans are like that. Know what? He thinks I am anti-Cuban American. My criticism of the public schools also annoyed him a bit.

Am I that bad?-
I looked back at some of my postings. Obviously I'm not like many bloggers, hard as Chinese algebra for approval. And? When reading what I had to say about most, but not all Black elected officials, I've been a pretty aggressive critic. Let’s see, Anglos- I was one of the few folks with a hint of a progressive bent to take issue with Jim Defede as some halo wearing muckraker. I went out of my way to point out that Anglo led Miami had problems with corruption and vice way before Hispanics were here in any sizable number. I’ve often spoke in derision about the Anglo habit of regarding themselves as conservators of clean government. And I pointed out that the largely Jewish retiree population was partially to blame for a deterioration of public education in the county, as they were the strongest voice against education spending for years (since their children were grown and living elsewhere), leaving our educational system woefully underdeveloped. I had an article up about Gay male community leaders taking an unnecessarily confrontational approach in the North Miami Beach elections which eroded the positive impact the Gay community was having in the city in other ways.

Partisan? Well I know I am an equal opportunity critic. Note that I said some things positive about Jeb Bush’s FCAT policy and his support of Scripps, though all in all I find him to be a gross failure of a governor. The same analysis could be made about my feelings concerning Mayor Diaz. Besides, I'm not a partisan type.

Characterizations of Miami politics and society, hmm, now there’s something to ponder. Do I think we have some folks around who have brought banana republic politics and social dysfunction over here from Latin America. Shock and horror! I do! It is not like the reasons for such an assertion are unknown nor is it a narrowly held analysis. By the same token I have supported a number of Hispanic candidates, including Agustin Barrera and Jimmy Morales, who I believe may be the best civic leader this county has seen since Merrett Stierheim retired.

And those whom I expose, hold up to scrutiny or ridicule; they come from all backgrounds and I even target people I know and like if they deserve it.

Your Fair and Balanced News Source-
I was the first source to point out that my Grove neighbor from Dale Simpson, former head of Camillus House, was stealing from and using the homeless as virtual slaves. The first to mention that the Public Health Trust, led by an African American, teamed up with Human Services Coalition, (led by an Jewish woman that I happen to respect) and an assortment of most White and African American organizations to waste taxpayers’ money in failed outreach programs for years. I was also the first person to mention that the same HSC, champion of unions and workers’ rights, publically took a steamrolled attempts by HSC’s own employees to unionize. I also exposed some inflated numbers in the Earned Income Tax Credit program, which nevertheless is still being pushed by Manny Diaz and social services organizations cooperating with the sham (hoping for further city funding).

And more stories / multicultural misdeeds... (Awards aren't necessary)
I informed the public that community agencies were unhappy with the Miami Dade Alliance for Human Services and their funding-gateway relationship and conflicts of interests among board membership. In South Miami I mentioned harassment by an Anglo officer of a black, middle class professional and I pointed out the hypocrisy of the city's Anglo electorate for voting along racial lines for a developer candidate. I was the first to talk about FIU’s Urban Health department working with drug companies to do human experiments on the homeless (and wound up having to leak it to a national news outlet when local folks would not follow up on the story). I exposed a homeless prositution ring by a Black Camillus House employee. I leaked that the Department of Business Development was covering up problems in its minority and women set aside programs and wage/pay oversight, letting favored contractors get by, even though the county just relaxed oversight rules even more. The DBD is headed by an African American woman.

I was the first to tell about Miami-Dade Community College ETCOTA’s program lost federal contracts, overcharging of handicap students in their job training program, and press releases falsely claiming transfer agreements with Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Columbia, (and other colleges). ETCOTA was led by an Anglo and African American at the time. I noted that the Cuban American woman who serves as MDC Dean of Students, Madeline Pumariega and an MDC Arab American college president were forcing Miami Dade student newspaper editors to get rid of critical editorials of the school and administration.

I broke the story on accounting fraud at FIU's HSET research program, an office led by an Arab American. I was the first to share some FIU faculty and administration grievances about hiring, and administrative practices (okay, the folks in there were Cuban). And I shared the story of a Cuban American director of admissions at FIU, Carmen Brown, who had damn near a dozen complaints by Black employees for discrimination as well as a recommendation for termination by the EOE office at FIU to no avail.

Where is my goddamn check?
Come to think about it, I’ve given you readers, as well as press outlets (when they were interested) more damn stories than AP. And believe it or not I'm not comfortable with snitching unless it's about something really harmful and ugly. (Miami should be a journalist's dream because info on bullshit is just there.) Main point- I was Equal Opportunity diming.

Your not so fair and balanced news sources-
Recently I accused the Herald’s Anglo, Jewish, Black and to a lesser extent, Cuban American writers of ignoring social issues and problems confronting Cubans and other Hispanics while portraying Hispanics, especially Cubans, as a dark, omnipotent force. It is a potent and dangerous mythology. I also touched upon the other community characterizations that go on in the Herald. I do believe there is something to what I said. However I cannot imagine how this could be construed as anti-Cuban...

Perhaps the problem is the atmosphere in Miami regarding these issues. Miami is a town where most people who have a voice are intent upon ignoring the problems of those who don't. It is also a place where many people come to live their dreams and then get caught in grinding poverty under the mocking glare of tightly-held wealth controlled by a tiny, corrupt elite (just like the countries many are from). I imagine Biscayne Bay, Fisher Island and Miami Beach as ultimately symbolic- communities with moats- around tourists, the wealthy and ultimately our exisitence from the rest of the country.

With bloggers like these-
So there is a big gap here for blogs to fill in and a lot of info for bloggers to share. But it isn’t happening. Miami has blogger participation fitting for a Nebraska farming community. You read all those blogs from Liberty City, Sweetwater, Hialeah and Allapattah? Neither have I.

There are few "Miami" bloggers who have even thought of mentioning any of Miami’s problems, unless referencing hallowed journalist, St. Defede. MOST Miami bloggers allegedly write about local event but have never been in the Northwest quadrant of our city (unless speeding along I-95); haven't been in a Southwest neighborhood unless you count a tourist trap restaurant on Calle Ocho; nor been to a dirty south town except on a pit stop to a Dixie Highway convenience store on the way to Key West. And I cannot remember two bloggers that have written about a African American/Bahamian/Haitian/West Indian/wrong side of the tracks Latino personage or neighborhood or cultural attraction… This is probably because the Miami Herald or the Miami New Times haven’t informed our in-the-thick-of-it, ear-to-the-street observors.

I may be annoying. But look at THAT bullshit-
I expect what I say is not agreed upon by all, angers some and puts others off. I appreciate respectful notes, even that have barely contained annoyance. On the other end I've noticed ONE local blogger (who takes his bullshit blog way too seriously) engage in what he imagined would be clever and subtle snarkiness... but sadly he wasn't capable. It might be that said blogger could engage himself finding something salient or worth discussing which seems to be in short supply on his blog lately. Anyway...

I do try to shake things up in Miamista. While you will find mention of daytrips, idle wanderings and proof of my own dissolute, sand grown life I still focus on some of the serious shit that is going on around us. That is because Miami is the poorest city in America with the highest rate of violent crimes; it has the highest rate of uninsured; it has the highest rate of AIDS and HIV; it has the highest high school drop-out rate; it has a tremendous problem with unemployment and underemployment; it has the highest rate of functional illiteracy in the country; it has a Black population that is living under conditions that rival Uganda; it has Central Americans, Aztec and Maya who deal with widespread poverty and racism; it has swaths of Cuban American poverty in entire municipalities like Hialeah that make the City of Miami look damn near affluent; and there is a track record of law breaking and general malfeasance in municipal government and our public schools’ leadership that would make any Third World despot wince.

The answer to our problems to this point has been to cover it up and stifle media coverage. And it's starting to work because people are just letting it go as if it didn't matter. It's just words right?

How does it make you feel?
This sort of dysfunction has meaning in human terms that is downright heart breaking. Only those who are heartless and worthless can turn a blind eye to suffering, to be dazzled by a strip of neon on Ocean Drive. There is little room for boosterism and blissful ignorance. (Except maybe a weekly dance, shitface and rumpy pumpy on South Beach.) There isn't room for brushing and glossing; a thorough gaze is due even it shreds some misplaced notions of civic pride. That is because true civic pride, even in circumstances better than ours, comes from addressing problems and finding solutions.

Maybe there IS a secret agenda by the Cuban haters-
So yeah, maybe I do focus on Cuban American politicians (and there is no shortage of them). Miami is where, in the popular imagination and to some degree of reality, Hispanics are demonstrating our grasp of civic responsibility. Because of this, there is a special onus on us. But onlookers beware.

We don’t run the city as a group, nor do we run it alone. The masses of Hispanics feel (at least from my experience) they have little say in government and often voice the same sort of frustration as non-Cubans/non-Hispanics. My brow raises when the Herald fluffs ire at local Hispanic developers but purrs when mentioning 800 pound gorilla Lennar. Hispanics don’t own the Herald or the New Times, we don’t own the television affiliates (including the major Spanish language networks) and we are minor players in the tourism cash cow. And we are not the only ones who vote.

St. Miamista-
A final note upon this is that I never criticize a problem or potential solution when I have not done something personally to set things aright. I'm comfortable with my efforts to make things better. I've shared some of these things with you and I'll continue to, but not as priority in itself.

So yeah, I’m fine with what I put up. And I do take what commenters and correspondents have to say seriously. It means someone cares. Really, I have had about enough of writing on Miami’s dysfunction and I understand why the county of Dade is still in the midst of record out-migration. I'm contemplating a break for a year or two myself (later about that). See, it isn’t the problems, it’s the apathy.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Miami Sure is Funky!

(Left: Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones' plan for Overtown Revitalization)
1.Critical introduces us to the other Sea World and oh, announces Ikea’s Broward presence in ‘07 in an entertaining way. I for one believe that it is like the Gap of furniture stores if you rock it right- great for assorted sundries and basic furniture that can be mixed in with some stylish stuff to give the impression that it is ALL top shelf shit.

2.Omar I thought you were for real… (I can't keep singing his praises and let that interview go unaddressed.) Anyway, THAT Miami Sun Post columnist decides to do an interview with Michelle Spence "Mike" Jones without asking her what she thought about ANYTHING really. Like, say, the threat that Arriola made about her district and the election; the shady shenanigans during the election; her lack of education or training; and the lack of, let’s see, funding for neighborhood maintenance of streets and amenities, community policing, after school college programs, community courts, hiring set asides in area construction, NET and other government offices in Black areas, Black hiring in municipal jobs, skills training programs, literacy programs, public housing renovation, oversight and protection from slumlords, community development grant money (siphoned away from her district), supermarkets and banks, city cooperation with the school board, etc. etc. When he hints at a question she says some old random shit like “I can’t look back because I’m too busy looking ahead” or something to the effect. (Mmmph, guess she tol' him!) She also champions, get this, entertainment as a way to get things going in Overtown and Liberty City…

3. On Discourse Net MNT alum Tom Austin gives us a peak into what promises to be a great book on Miami, but not if Bob or I get there first.

4.MNT takes Miamity’s cue and shares a time when I was a toddler and seemingly all good soul and R&B music came from Miami. When you see so many familiar songs you realize that Black Miami once produced sounds that rivaled or exceeded regional-gone-national music like Mississippi (Stax), like Philly (Philly International), Motown, or Cleveland and LA as funk factories. A lot of the sounds are obviously borrowed from music emanating from other parts of the country but it has something unique. Should concern us that there is obvious exploitation of Black artists going on there but what’s new.

5.The county commissioners put a hold on incorporation, likely in a bid to stop Redland incorporation from getting in the way of developers plans.

6. Showme has really taken his blog name to heart, starting off his experiments with VBubble by giving us a peep show. (Scroll down a little on his great page.)

7.Juan Carlos Arcaya Gonzalez keeps the gophers happy.

8. Jeb Bush tries to do the right thing by luring a biotech firm, giving it a place where it will be within reach of tri-county future rapid transit and the I-95 corridor, would benefit FAU and Nova and allow for biotech companies to expand. What does PB County do? Just the opposite. Why? Race and an interested developer. Land is cheaper, or was cheaper at the new site but it limited by geography.

9. My lawyer missed a court date a long time ago. (Don’t ask.) I was not aware that this sort of redress was available. Something tells me Ms. Aleman is not going to have much support among the Bar Association folks.

10.South Florida has quite a large Italian American population, mostly relocated from the Northeast and Miami used to be, along with New Orleans called the southern capitals of the Mafia. So there has to be a few people that have some stories to tell, right? Not if the Sopranos are already stealing them says this South Florida lady.

11.Sen. Martinez regrets role in Schiavo case but supports (surprise) Katherine Harris in her run against Bill Nelson. Kitty Kat Harris has had something of a rift behind the scenes with Jeb, especially after she was so instrumental to assisting his brother. The famed Bush family loyalty seems to have skipped someone. The Harris family are not a bunch of nobodies, wealth and influence speaking. They are some of the largest citrus growers/land holders in the state. I love her over the top make-up which speaks to an eager to please mentality, her flirtatiousness with Fox News reporters, the political baggage with the Riscorp fundraising scandal, her support of policy to keep her family up to their cheeks in Mexicans slaves, I mean guest workers, and the fact that she gets boozy with the best of them. I also love that someone tried to run her over in a silver Cadillac citing “freedom of speech”. She my friends is a real Floridian for our times. Sen. Nelson is so boring in comparison. He is so old Florida, (imagine an Anglo politician originally from Miami these days), like Sen. Graham without the quirkiness or apple cheeks. “Spaceman Spiff” Nelson even makes being an astronaut seem bland.

12.Rudy Crew for President. Don’t let the school board or anyone else get in the way because this is the best chance for positive change in Miami. Remedial and enrichment classes, partnerships with community schools, colleges and universities, summer programs, college prep, PSAT and PSAT tutorials, teacher training, compulsive summer school for retained students, parent choice within the school system. Don’t be surprised to see Miamista going back in the non-profit world to run a Miami based program like several of those he used to run. They made him feel good whereas now, working with just rich folks he feels a little...

13. It got back to me that a Miami Herald writer called me a prick when someone showed them a recent posting. Have I resorted to name calling? Oh yeah, I have. Good choice...

14. Mayor Manny Diaz officially brings himself and Commssioner Winton down. For good.

15.Staff Writer "Miami New Times has an immediate opening for a full-time staff writer. We're looking for a journalist with at least two years of professional experience who has the ability to create in-depth and compelling stories that explore the issues, events, and personalities of Miami. Qualified applicants should send cover letter, resumé, and clips to: Chuck Strouse Editor Miami New Times 2800 Biscayne Blvd. Miami, FL 33137 "

He May Go to Jail but They're Both Crooks

So the South Miami mayoral election is over and Horace G. Feliu has won, defeating incumbent Mayor Mary Russell Scott. This follows a pre-election candidate forum several days ago that descended by all accounts into bedlam, with shouting, intimidation tactics, trashed campaign material, barely disguised race baiting and the candidates walking out before having a chance to speak.
Interesting race for a few reasons. One, South Miami has a mix very much reflective of Dade, ethnically speaking. They have had some nasty back and forths on the whole ethnic thing in their political races. Two, they have issues of corruption, development, shady politicians, etc. Add to this that the shadow of the Latin Builders Association has been raised and, well...

South Miami has been a relatively properous, all American sort of city (as the proclaimed by aging banners), a place where Hispanic as well as Anglo residents escaped to avoid Miami's problems. The city has maintained its suburban character along with many of its old German, Scotch, Anglo and Bahamian residents who originally settled the area. In the past decade it has gained a number of Venezuelan residents. Yet in recent years the city cannot seem to just get along.

It really started to get ugly back in '96 mayoral race but successful two time mayor Julio Robiana (now a state representative) was able to deflect outright ethnic attacks by stressing that he was born in Miami and was just as concerned with "Mariel riff-raff" as anyone. Beyond the racial issue was accusations of mismanagement, questionable associations, etc. Further commissioner races is where the ethnic tension really heated up.

The whole ethnic thing has toned down, though a person made a racially tinged public statement about Feliu characterizing him as "sort of Hispanic" or something to the effect (which was a confusing attack)... Or maybe it hasn't. Sergio Pino and other Latin Builders Association linked developers contributed to Ms. Scott's campaign. This gained her the title of the "LBA (Latin Builders Association) Candidate". Many were angry with her supporting a condo/office/retail compex that a Chicago company planned for downtown South Miami. It was pointed out that the existing South Miami retail and office space was under utilized, especially at the Sunset Mall. When local controlled developement folks asked for a scaled back version of the building Ms. Scott took the side of the developer. This seemed to cement her reputation among detractors in the controlled development camp, including many Anglo voters. The development was cancelled but the damage was done. (The Chicago based company cited concern of a real estate market down turn.)

Mary Scott Russell had created an alliance with Black politicians who represent a sizable portion of the community. The Black community, largely descendents of the earliest Miami settlers from the Bahamas, has some economic problems, exacerbated by governmental neglect and discriminatory zoning and planning (their neighborhoods are isolated from the normal grid and city storage and parking facilities blight the area). South Miami's Black population does have a high rate of home ownership and access intergrated schools. And they vote. Or at least they did in the last election before heavy handed, racist policing became an issue.

Anyone who has been to downtown South Miami on a Friday night has witnessed the rowdy, largely Hispanic crowds of youth who have been responsible for several shootings, stabbings and group fist fights. Some of the youth may belong to self styled gangs and there also seems to be petty drug dealing and use. The Black community feels that the police target their children for arrests while even the middle class Hispanic and Anglo families that live east of US 1 cannot convince the police to crack down on Hispanic youth violence. A complaint that Miamista has been privy to was circulated to elected officials where a Black professional was harrassed, followed and asked to leave by an a female South Miami police officer (McCarty) at a Barnes and Noble bookstore without cause. So much for Black support of the outgoing mayor Ms. Russell.

Horace Feliu is not without his own problems, including four outstanding charges leveled by the County Commission on Ethics, (itself a dubious organization) stemming from the last election cycle where he may have broken a slew of campaing finance regulations. He was able to turn the tables regarding this situation however, citing his election day arrest on these charges by an officer who allegedly said he "wanted Mary Russell Scott to win". What was perhaps overlooked, especially by the South Miami News, is that the arrest happened after all votes where in.

The Miller family owned South Miami News was ostensibly non-partisan but the popular paper (part of a string of local journals) did favor Feliu. They cited the issue of the questionably timed arrest again and again. It is difficult to see why the paper's publisher supported Mr. Feliu. The Miller family through their papers seem good at hedging, usually supporting developers except when it is it untenable while still maintaining readership, such as in East Perrine and the Redlands. They also give a voice in the sheets of their journals to local concerns, even to controlled development proponents, albeit a tiny one. So far their partisanship and support for developers has undercut their ability to fill the vacuum in our no-newspaper town...

What I thought was disturbing about the previous South Miami mayoral election was that people assumed that Mary Scott Russell, a real estate developer and major property owner was somehow going to champion controlled growth. The assumption seemed to be that any White candidate opposed unfettered, unplanned growth, and Hispanics supported such growth. Maybe this election signals a new era when Dade residents look beyond ethnic background, cheezy pandering, and self serving political alliances to go with who ever is the best candidate offered, even if the best candidate is someone being investigated on ethics.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

No (?) Winter Wonderland/NY Street Talk

New for Sunday!!! (I updated this post today. The last two posts were garbled by Blogger so re-read them. They were put out on the same day.) This is just a quick note to Miami personal friends that read Miamista. I have been called all Thursday, yesterday and today about the mythical snow storm. IT IS NOT SNOWING IN NEW YORK (but there has been some frosty misty stuff for an hour today that melted before hitting the ground). It did not snow yesterday or the day before, despite reports to the contrary. I actually saw sattelite news from a Florida affiliate that showed stock footage of a winter wonder land while speaking about the airport closures in New York City. How misleading. I hope this serves as evidence of how powerful centralized media can be. I hope it does snow soon so I can cancel appointments with clients Monday. J/K- I love my clients and would never do that unless absolutely necessary. !!!!Update Sunday-Finally, it snowed like crazy last night and I played with other (slightly inebriated) adults on Houston Street at 2 in the morning.

That picture above is in a part of Virginia that I spent a lot of time in as a youth and is near and dear to me. The snowfall that year, four years ago, is an all time record in a part of Virginia that actually has palm trees and spanish moss. Talk about the best of both worlds...

Here are some things I am hearing on the streets of New York City-

Die In Your Arms Tonight
Girl: Are you saying you would have anal sex with my lifeless body?
Guy: No, I’m insinuating it.
--V Train

Phallic Art
Girl: I think it is a complete failure as an ideology but it is aesthetically pleasing.
Guy: What, circumcision?
Girl: No, futurism.

Miss Your Stop
Guy: I can’t believe I was cock-blocked by the L train.
--L train Platform, Union Square

Do they take transfers?
Woman: Move in damn it, move in!
Yuppie: Wait for the next one, this train is full.
Woman: I have to be on this train.
Yuppie: This isn’t the train to heaven you know, it’s going to Queens.
--F Train

Rush Hour Mythology
Girl: The fuckin’ R train is a fuckin’ myth. I swear to God it is like a unicorn: only fools and virgins can see it.
--Canal Street Station-N, Q, R platform

Why Switch?-
Girl #1: I can't believe last year you had a boyfriend and this year you have a girlfriend! It's like so nasty.
Girl #2: Oh please, next year you're going to have a girlfriend too.
Girl #1: Hell no I ain't. I made it through last year without a girlfriend and I'll make it through this year too!
--#6 train

Mixed Company-
Crazy guy: 3 fucking white kids talking to a chink.
Chick #1: Little does he know that's not the most offensive thing we've heard tonight.
Chick #2: Yeah, by comparison it was politically correct.
--#4 train

You Can't Choose Your Station-
Woman: They need to play more Rufus Wainwright. I only hear him on WFUV.
Man: Don't you mean W-G-A-Y?
Woman: Oh, that was tactful.
--Noodles, Rice & More, 3rd Avenue

Better be Good To Me-
Teen girl #1: So, my boyfriend told me that if I didn't have sex with him, he'd break up with me. So I did, but then he broke up with me anyway. I don't understand!
Teen girl #2: Well, maybe you were really bad at it.
--43rd & 7th

Designing Woman-
Woman: I was a bride's maid once and only once. I avoided it after that experience. The dresses were awful, they were like a menopause blue.
--East 64th St.

Who's Crazy?-
Guy:I was talking to my therapist and she said, "Would you rather hurt yourself or someone else", I started to say "myself" but then I thought she didn't want to hear that. So I told her I would rather hurt someone else, that seemed more sane.
--A Train

Are Lawyers Smart?-
Student: No I am a dirty whore but I am a law student so I am a smart and dirty whore.
--Columbia U. Library

Family Planning-
Woman: Well I think maybe I'll be single forever. Maybe it's time I had children.
Guy: You can have one of mine, that is if I have any.
--Long Island Rail Road

Everyone Wants to Save-
Woman:I thought she was moving to Africa to save the children from starvation or something.
Guy:Well that didn't happen. She moved to Williamsburg to save the trendy from hurting themselves with accessories I guess.
--East 7th St., L.E.S.

Guy #1:And you know what else he does, he puts perfume on his pubes.
Guy #2:You know I read about that in an article.
--Barnes and Noble, Astor Place

Influential Movie-
Girl:Did you like it?
Guy:Yeah it was amazing.
Girl: What about Eric, did he like it?
Guy:Yeah, he wants to become a Gay cowboy now.
--NYU Coles Gym Lobby

I Always Wondered-
Girl: I was drunk and I forgot to take out my last tampon. When the doctor fished it out it was all gray and smelled like alpo.
--6 Train

She Was My Muse-
Guy #1:What do you mean she fired you?
Guy #2:The bitch fired me.
Guy #1:You should write a story about her. The bitch fucked up and now you can show her.
Guy #2:I've been writing a book about her since last Christmas.
Guy #1:Oh.
Guy #2:Now I am going to lose filler material.
--Times Square

In a Blind Folded Taste Test-
Black Woman: My God. This bagel is as hard as a rock! I can’t eat this shit. Can you eat this shit?
White Guy: I’ll eat it.
Black Woman: I’m just saying it’s the worse goddamn bagel I have ever had.
White Guy: Honey it’s from Dunkin’ Donuts. What do you expect? Dominos ain't good pizza and Olive Garden ain’t good Italian.
White Woman: Damn! The next thing you know you’ll be telling me there is no Santa Claus. Go easy.
--Joralemon St., Downtown Brooklyn

I Won't Sell Out-
Girl #1: I refuse to take a Women’s Studies class. It’s against my morals.
Girl #2: I have a friend in that class, and he is one of two guys in there. He said the rest are all man-haters.
Girl #1: I hear the only way to get an A in that class is to come out or say how you were abused as a child or say “I live with my boyfriend but I am a lesbian.”
--NYU Palladium Gym

Working Hard-
Guy #1: You did a helluva job in that meeting.
Guy #2: It gives me a hard on to hear you say that Jeff. Yep, gives me a hard on.
--51st and 6th

Guy: Do you want this bag of chips?
Homeless Guy: Nah.
Guy: Damn, I guess beggars can be choosers.
-4th St. West Village

Watch Out for the Man-
Guy: I should get extra consideration since you named Melanie and Alexander.
Wife (pregnant): I did not name them. We named them together.
Guy: No we didn’t. You came up with the names and I agreed with you. Now it’s my turn.
Wife: Leave it to the White man to rewrite history.
--Broome St. SoHo

Friday, February 10, 2006

Miamista Returning to Port Soon: Part 2

Sighting of Chief Timoney's son left.
1. Don’t get down, Matthew “The Designated Ass Kisser on Eduation” Pinzur is happily telling us sweet little lies- again. I spoke to a good friend who is a writer at the Herald who occasionally tells me what is discussed in what he describes as the endless useless meetings at the Herald. He mentioned that Matthew Pinzur is running the SAME story in the Herald for the third time. Because of someone contesting the information as misleading (see below) he ran it for a fourth time a day later (with a paltry single line explaining why the numbers were misleading) and it was ran for a fifth time in the editorial section! Because it is a feel good story about Latinos Feidler said run it again and again and again and again and again! Here is the the actual story about the numbers- Miami-Dade is the fourth largest school system and about 70% Hispanic. It also has the largest schools in the country. (Those of you educated in Miami’s public schools may not be aware of this but in NO other cities do high schools have enrollment of liberal arts colleges. NY, LA, Chicago and Houston all limit the size of high schools, though they have multiple schools in a single building.) The percentage of Hispanics taking and passing AP tests are some of the lowest in the nation but by sheer number of Hispanic students several area schools are at the top for amount of Hispanic students passing the tests.

I will take this opportunity to (go entirely off on a tangent to vent and) say that Gaston Caperton who heads the College Board is an asshole, bigoted fuck. Caperton was working at Teacher’s College at Columbia University as a leader of a two person “institute of education policy” (laughable considering his track record as governor of West Virginia”). I worked at Teacher’s College at Columbia University and my significant other of the time and a close family member were students. Caperton is a self serving oakie that glad hands whoever can help him and screws people over for research work they did, presenting it as his own. He also cut the number of free SAT, SAT II, AP test and Admissions fee waivers for low income students. Whew, glad to get that off! (Just so you don’t think I am anti everyone I will tell you about another TC related person later.)

2. And a little more information because if you attended Miami schools you probably have the space- “Miami’s functional illiteracy rate at 63% is the highest in the U.S. and is three times the national average.

3. A related piece on Education by my man Fred “Get Ready for Freddy” Grim: Florida not an overachiever in education BY FRED GRIMM We strive for mediocrity. Plain ol' average will do just fine. We're not asking the state Legislature for anything extraordinary, like spending as much per student as wild-eyed socialist enclaves like Georgia (ranked 20th nationally) or West Virginia (11th). The Greater Florida Consortium of School Boards will launch a campaign for increased spending Wednesday with a slogan born of diminished expectations: ''Fund at 25th.'' No one will be singing The Impossible Dream. The school boards, led by Miami-Dade and Broward, hope they can persuade state lawmakers to raise the state from the bottom five in per capita funding among the 50 states and the District of Columbia to the middle of the pack. Just the middling middle. That's all we ask…”

4. Matthew “Huckster of Education” Pinzur does care about the blind kids, but apparently the rest of you don’t. The bigger question is what the hell happened to public funding JEB! “Money woes reduce number of kids getting free glasses- They have started school seeing B's that look like D's, 8's that look like 6's and chalkboards that look like clouds. They have squinted while reading silently and stammered while reading aloud. During their crucial first years of education -- years that often predict their future success and define their attitude toward school -- they have learned more slowly than their classmates or, at least, more slowly than they could have.''Sometimes I can't see when the teacher uses the overhead,'' said Adianez Centeno, a third-grader at Avocado Elementary in Homestead. ``Sometimes I can't see my morning math.'' At Avocado and across the district, countless students struggle with basic reading and math because they cannot clearly see the front of the classroom or the textbooks in front of them. The solution for more than 40,000 students over the last decade has been the Heiken Children's Vision Fund, which provides free comprehensive eye exams and custom-made glasses for low-income children throughout Miami-Dade. SLOW DONATIONS But donations have been light for the nonprofit group this year, and it has dramatically curtailed services. By this time last school year, the Heiken fund had performed more than 3,500 exams and given away more than 2,200 pairs of glasses. This year, it has done less than half that and needs about $250,000 to catch up.”

5. Chuck “Chillout on Reporting” Strouse over at the MNT writes one of the better pieces that I have seen lately about the sort of parenting that our local leaders provide. I will give some commentary.

Carlos, Jr. the rapist, well, that is a serious problem because it smells of bad parenting, and perhaps even a cover-up by the then Top Cop because this sort of behavior obviously had become habitual and the boy was living in the household. He was 18 at the time of the raping spree that landing him in the clink and God knows what he was doing as a minor.

Hazy Boy Timoney, what can I say… Pot isn’t blow or smack but man, obviously half a million is a little more than partying. I’m trying to be understanding here but dude you HAVE to be dealing. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got family, as well as a friend with a pool hall /cafeteria/night club front business in Wynwood on… Yeah, that’s where Miamista draws the line and shuts his mouth.

The street fighting incident involving Mr. Crew's sons in Mr. Strouse’s report- Miamista loves his readers so he will relate something he/I should not. But first I have to offer the TC (Teachers College Columbia University) connection I promised. Rudy Crew gave the graduation speech at the event for my family member and significant other and eventually helped said family member to get a job. Rudy has been a mentor for a number of folks, especially Blacks and Hispanics and is a good egg from what I know.) Also happens to be that neighbors that lived on my block in downtown Brooklyn in those days. I heard the story from the defendants, and it was not a bump that precipitated the incident. I believe them there. On the other hand, despite what was said, the extra Crew boy jumped in totally unnecessarily. They claim the wallet thing did not exist and was a set up. I know the Crew brothers to be nice, smart, well educated guys but I think that regardless of their perspective were assholes for the night and I hope they don’t hold it against me cuz the truth is the light. BTW, as long as I am telling tales out of school and possibly ruining relationships I hear that Rudy Crew’s wife, who is from Brooklyn (BK in the House!) is cooling on Miami. She seems like good people and I can entirely understand. I won’t go into any more details but she works in a snake pit office from what I hear. Don’t be surprised to see her start some sort of agency.

6. Our stick and move governor is at it again- Jeb Bush supported a $1.5 billion tax increase to fund a deficit in the state-run insurance carrier, Citizens Property Insurance. News reports now say the amount of the deficit has gone up by about $250 million, boosting the tax increase to about $1.75 billion. A tax cut Jeb announced with much fanfare this week is a shell game being played with your money for political gain.

7. State senator appears to lose bid for post…-What makes this news is the way it was covered as much as anything. When Senator Villalobos was up as Senate President there was a front page, above the fold headline saying “Cuban American to Lead the Senate” . The way they trumpeted it I thought there was a coup d’tat against George Bush by the Jorge Mas Canosa come back from the dead. Turned out to be a lesser deal, focused on giving a Latino party hack the honor seat to get more Latino votes. However, when it turned out that he was being pushed out of line for the position by other party hacks for fear of seeming to be pandering to Latinos the headline lost all mention of the word “Cuban”. The clincher is that even though it was upstate right-of-Attila Republicans, according to Herald's Gary Fineout it was Cuban American Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla who became the sinister "mastermind" of the whole affair. Typical Herald.

8. Thank you Mr. Hiassen. We Cubans love to be called White. Really, I have actually seen a Cuban have an orgasm from being called White by an Anglo. Perverted legacy of imperialism. And I know it is really a backhanded way of Anglos to say that Cubans are getting the minority treatment when they are in fact not minorities but Hell... Newsflash, we Cuban Americans are a rainbow and because of our hot Latin blood we are all mixed up, even the Spaniards. That's what makes us zesty. Ooohhhh! Not to say we don't have unaddressed virulent and complex color issues as a culture. BTW perhaps there are political and propaganda reasons for Wet Foot/Dry Foot, like why the U.S. government issues 7% of its allottment of Cuban Visas, unilaterally choses not to lift the number of visas anyway, all the while allowing any one who comes here illegally by truck boat or speed boat the whole Cuban American Adjustment Act bag o' goodies! Hmmm.

9. (1,2,5,7,8 Continued) So what is this Cuban boosterism at the Herald REALLY about? Here is my take- It is easy to blame Cubans (and the Herald subliminally fosters this) but wrong. In fact, you will find that in the Miami Herald, the source of most boosterism and pandering, it is seldom a Latino, much less a Cuban writing. The reasons for the boosterism, in my opinion, are obvious and not so obvious. An obvious and often cited reason is pandering. The Herald is trying to reach an audience that will replace the declining number of Anglo readers. If it has failed to this point it still is hopeful. Another reason is reflected in the Herald’s perception of Cuban Americans. Cuban Americans have some of the highest drop out rates, families in poverty, low rate of participation in the work force, percentage of low income households, etc., so the question rises which Cuban Americans are they talking to? Are they talking to the ubiquitous Cuban American grocery bagging men, ladies at McDonald’s, young dudes working for a cut above minimum wage off the books at construction jobs, janitors, secretaries, folks lined up for Uncle Sam's largesse, the 70% of Cuban Americans who travel to and from Cuba… No, course not THOSE Cubans (always screwing up a myth for the select few.) The Herald folks are talking to themselves. The Herald depicts a Miami of South Side Cubans, North Side African-Americans and North Beach Jews. Each group exists as a caricature and every news item is shoe horned into this mold. (How many times have I seen every non-Cuban Hispanic become Cuban in the pages of the Heral?) Let’s see the image of each groups as it exists at the Herald- Miami Cubans are right-wing extremist, crooked, sinister, creative (in that Third World way), rich and the de facto rulers of Miami; Blacks are poor, uncreative, Church-happy and blame their lot on others; Jews are elderly and liberal (except on the topic of Israel); Then there are the Anglos, well, there are about 25 of them left- 11 of whom are bitter social critics, 7 of whom chew tobacco and live in Homestead and the rest sit in the Miami City Club waiting to die. The Herald writers are drawn from (in unequal parts) and speak for all of these (not so representative) constituencies. They promote these constituencies out of insularity, personal biases and opportunism. It's a theory. Or it could be the Herald just sucks.

Addendum- Blogger sucks.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Miamista Retuning to Port Soon: Part 1

1. Apologies- first I was in Morocco (I will post pictures soon) then back to NYC where I have been busy as hell. I have been writing a bit during this time but not for Miamista. I author or contribute to a number of blogs and journals dealing with various topics and I rarely cross reference any of them especially with Miamista. Miamista exists in a non-partisan, circumscribed world. (As many of you know, I also don't post 99% of comments. Sorry, it's the time thing but I do want to create a forum at some point.) The other writing deals with New York, Los Angeles, college admissions and financial aid, economics and politics, marketing and demographics, architecture, literature… Since a good deal of my business involves writing, research and editing you can imagine that I sometimes get tired of writing though I can normally put out a newspapers worth a day. I am afraid Miamista in its full fledged form has not manifested because half the writers have moved from Miami, and our advertising guy has said that I have just about pissed off any potential advertiser. He also notes that there are only a dozen or so real blogs in metro Miami anyway because virtually no one reads and even fewer read blogs and online journals. (Note that in NY there are over 200 full fledged blogs under a single registry WHO USE MY SUBWAY STOP.)

2. Rebecca Wakefield has come through last week in her article on the adolescent Miami’s potential for growing up. I apologize for calling her the significantly more attractive Defede. Defede has never written so well. I think that what keeps her and some other folk in Miami is the sun, palm trees, beaches, sky, space, cheap liquor and parties. (Okay, that’s what keeps me in Miami.) For all the sleaze, banana republic shenanigans, the specter of good old fashioned, hectic American competition is removed. The spectacle and zoo of Miami politics, business offers the opportunity to play social critic and gadfly with the genuine belief that things will get better, you know that “be part of the solution” bit. I wonder… (I however am a little young for permanent summer slacking so I’ll be in NYC for the rest of this week.)

3. Public Campaign financing- Anyone notice that Bruno “Hitman of Syndicate” Barreiro has pushed through legislation that makes it virtually impossible for the average person to qualify for public campaign funds? (Link may be expired.) Commissioner Barreiro got this little beauty out in front of the syndicate, I mean the commission a month ago by claiming he was trying to prevent abuses. The vast majority of abuse of public campaign financing has been of course among people who would qualify for public money under his legislation so I don’t know what the Hell he is talking about.

4. Miami has a new doctor- With Dr. John “Here’s the bill” Clarkson retiring (ahem) we have a hot shot Duke fellow coming in to make UM medical one of the the top cutting shops/homeless abusers in the nation. The interesting backstories here are that Dr. John Clarkson had become an administrative hack, good at fleecing the county out of money. (UM runs the operations of Miami’s public hospital system, including Jackson Memorial under contract.) The good doctor from Duke also had his own high profile problems with the unfortunate mixing up of blood types during a surgery at Duke Medical Center. It seems that the hospital under his command never developed the sort of routine protocol that prevents these sort of mishaps. Nonetheless, he is a highly respected administrator who will likely boost UM’s research, recruiting and reputation barring any more ugly incidents. (Note to new head doctor- Take down those billboards saying “UM Does Cancer”. It can really be confusing/disturbing.)

5. Free Black History Month bus tours are being given. In Miami where deliberately blanking out history that exists before your very eyes is a way of life this little bus ride might help. A better tour might be to go through Coconut Grove and Coral Gables where even now the vast portion of the housing stock was designed and built by Black Bahamians who were known to be master carpenters and home builders, even as they were forced to constantly move out of their neighborhoods to make way for expanding population of Whites (sound familiar) and had to use scrap lumber and precious little spare time to build their own homes. Today, when prefab McMansions rule the day, we should long for some for some of those old builders. Wait a minute, they are still here. They just aren’t hired BECAUSE THEY ARE BLACK.

6. Poor accounting, back room deals, payoffs, unlawful behavior swept under the rug... the big deal here is that it is such a big deal. Why? Because it shouldn't be with Mayor Dickhead and his ever so smug asshole mini-me Arriola taking every opportunity to fuck over the poor and middle class, glibby lie, give variances and erase fees for campaign contributing developers, threaten citizens, tell citizens to fuck off, fire people for doing their job, manipulate and steal elections... This is just something else illustrating an obvious fact.

7. Miami attorney to the cocaine trafficking stars gets into a sticky situation. Miami is a funny place. If you have the right connections you can strike it rich as an attorney for traffickers. Or you can strike it rich as an attorney working for other asshole criminals if again, you have the right connections. If you don’t, you can find yourself doing a couple of months in county and looking for a new line of work.

8. It is the second drug arrest since 2000 for a former chairman of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce. Here is another example of the hazards that one faces in a city where a kilo of powder is amazingly cheap and accessible. Add this name to a number of promising folks who have got the monkey on their backs. Usually you don't get names but this was political payback.

9. Funny how Black folks get their house razed and their names in the paper while the Key Biscayne, Coral Gables Anglo and Latino crowd that buys the junk gets a date in court for possession with intention to use (read a stern warning). Great reporting Luisa "If I only had a brain" Yanez. Anyway, at lunch at the Golden Carrot not too long ago I witnessed a waiter tooting in the bathroom. Damn, is that what happens to my tips?

10. Narcotics Trafficking-Puppies used as mules for drug smuggling DEA agents in Colombia find bags of liquid heroin packed into the sliced-and-sewn bellies of young Labrador retrievers to get the drugs to the U.S.BY JAY WEAVER They've used hollowed-out concrete posts, heavy-duty chain links, even fake plantains to conceal illegal drugs. And now, cute little puppies…

11. Pusher Man, beware the Ides of March too- Friday 13 drug sweep (the link to the South Miami paper may have expired). Predictable because of headline possibilities. "Friday the 13th proves unlucky for local drug dealers..." Line up the Pulitzers. I mean any dope dealer with half a brain should have known that Friday the 13th is always bad luck.