12 CDs for the Price of 1!

Friday, April 28, 2006

Whassup/Miamista Is Back! But for a limited time.

Note: The last post w blogging advice is down. If you want it back up inform.-J

1. The Hedgehog of Education is in the news. You know I’m getting at him. If you’re new to Miami, you’ll want to get the history behind this crook, bully, coward, bigot that dictates education policy.

2. South Miami’s Horace “the Christian, Jew Hating Crook” Feliu tried to win support from minority communities, which was in this case Adrian Ellis of the ill fitting suit ethnic grouping (scroll down for pic, temp link). The group and their suits come in all colors. South Miami is falling apart, see the story on the same page. Commentary on this upcoming.

3. Other Upcoming Stories:
It is Defede narrowing in on Commissioner Joe Martinez without any new information, because (as Miamista readers know) what is already there is bad. /The Miami Herald’s shoddy, outright fallacious reporting is in my sights. / I will be sharing a project to assist the community. /Bank Atlantic is money laundering their asses off. /Expect So. Florida illegal immigrant crackdown/Miami Monthly is committing suicide.

4. Some blog updates. I’m behind on some really great developments and some great blogging. I will miss a few but here goes.
· Let’s all wish our dear "Sex on the Beach’s” Manola/Maria a happy trip.
· “Miami Nights” is such a cool blog. Superficially so?Yeah (so what), but sarcastic, cynical and humorous. I just hate those sort of long send-your-password-in-an-email sort of deals. I always get occupied with something else when I go to my email.
· Sometimes I’m “enhh”, at sometimes I’m, “this is good shit” with "A Grand Illusion". AGI contributor Phoebe Flowers took aim at the Herald on her Sun-Sentinel blog (someone tell the Herald that SS blog layouts are soooo much more professional). Unfortunately she took it down. Go to The Daily Pulp to get a tidbit if you missed it, and I’m sure you did.
· After forwarding “The New Miami Girl” to people they tell me how interesting and cool her blog is. As if I didn’t know. But her blog is much more than cool. If we were playing football I’d give her the nickname Total Package. (Send comments to her not me, peeps on my group list!)
· “Overtown USA” is the blog of 1.5 million people. Call it Overtown U. because it is schooling people.
· “Coral Gables” blogger Tere (inside joke: I know who you are and get away from my seat Tere) is in danger of her life in the posh but scary part of town. I’m not kidding. I love the blog so I’m scared too, in selfish way. She’s a gifted writer, not simply by style but a winning wittiness.
· I can’t do a run down but I think that “En Vivo y En Directo” while sparse has promise.
· “Move Miami” aka Miami Transit has a big job on his hands- reforming urban design and transit. Couldn’t be doing a better job. He is whetting his knife before he completely cuts back the purple, bloated skin of the putrid MTA and its MIC appendage. Now I don’t have to rail about the need for a train along the FEC corridor.
· “JHop” just did something interesting on education but the old codger isn’t interested in what I have to say, screening my comments. It was basically that the LA article he referred to (dealing with schools) has a lot to do with the battle for control of LA across ethnic lines in a way that we would be very familiar with. Joel Kotkin points out that there is a Hispanic , Jewish and Anglo divide. What makes it local news? Part time Miami resident Rick Meruelo and Sergio Pino. A comparative study of Miami and Los Angeles in history and policy and public affairs is screaming to be done.
· “Greener Miami” can’t be called new anymore but she is drawing people together in her tree hugging and that’s so cool. Personally I have never been big on environmentalism without it dealing with problems such as urban planning, poverty and economic development and the policies and politics behind environmental problems. Emily Witt, writes a short piece to show how it’s done and undoes the hard work done by Mayor Manny’s PR folk. Mailing something like that as a letter to Vanity Fair, NALEO and the Conference of Mayors and other national press might help.

5. Media Updates- I’m behind here too. Fortunately there is little reporting going on of importance.
· The Miami New Times may be trying to crawl out but they dug a whole too deep. Francisco Alvarado, whose myopia and ambition sometimes stands in the way of his ability, delivered a piece of journalism last week. I mean MNT under Jim Mullin (pictured left) journalism, with a piece about some police corruption that no one else picked up on. (This week with the Grove playhouse the ball was handed to Francisco next to the basket and he dribbled it off his foot.) Caring, letter writing MNT readers have disappeared.
· The Miami Sun Post deigned to mention bloggers. Small treat coming from the source. (The Sun Post is short of a dyspeptic, kick ass journalist who won’t phone it in two times a month*.) There was a sort of an “I’m watching you watching me” thing that made me feel queasy. Because, rather than despite of, the mention I felt that it was presumptuous to "inform" their readers of blogs but not more presumptuous than their blog awards. It was like hearing the Herald say, “Have you heard about that quaint little tabloid, the Miami Sun Post? Let me tell you what they’re about”. It would have been more respectful to put up a blog-roll. Speaking of, the Miami Herald instructed that I be taken off a reporter’s blogroll. Feel GREAT about that!
· I have two words: Bob Norman. If you were stuck with reading a single blog by a Florida journalist (which in practical terms you are) it would be Bob. Media critic extraordinaire. Wish his beat was more focused on Miami but that would be too perfect.
· Radio Progreso, which at one point allowed comments in the form of letters and had a daily commentary from Francisco Aruca in English that was the closest thing English speakers would hear to an old style Cuban political commentator. Still RP is the voice of exiles in exile and they’ve got the scars to prove it. They are unabashed intelligent, liberal, leftist Cuban Americans (with a few American contributors) who have been through the fires. Several have been victims of bombings and assassination attempts. Others have been fired from academic positions for ideological reasons, such as Lisandro Perez, former head of FIU’s Cuban Studies Program and Max Castro, former head of University of Miami’s North-South Center and former Herald columnist. They are issue oriented and deal a lot with domestic affairs so they pass my no-party affiliation rule for Miamista mentioned blogs. They put to the lie that all or most Cuban Americans are of a single ideological bent.

6. Shout Outs and High Praises go to Sergio Pino and Rich Meruelo. Both guys have proven that developers are not necessarily assholes for life (note Pino's support for keeping the UDB and school reform and Meruelo's support of immigrant rights. Meruelo is primarily an LA resident these days.)

*I'm speaking of a shortage, not an entire lack thereof. REBECCA WAKEFIELD definitely stands as a "dyspeptic, kick ass journalist who won’t phone it in two times a month"! ;)

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Give A Man A Fish, Teach A Man To Blog

Here is the second part of my article (temp posts) on Commercial Blogging. What I am trying to bring about here can be seen in my pieces about the local economy. What we are really talking about is micro economics regional integration of markets using new media. Of course I should have written that last line on toilet paper. I wish I had used that for my undergrad honors thesis. Damn I’m old; don’t think blogs existed then. You know two little grad school fuckers at 'SC and UCLA created My Space? That's Miamista's segue into thanking his good friend at USC Annenberg for the information used in this article. (Fight On!)

Anyway, I wish you all riches and (mental health). I really believe that some of you guys should be seen and bought by the world! The
GMVCB members sorely need local bloggers to assist them in advertising and promoting Miami. Ditto with realtors and property managers. I believe Miami is five years overdue for a Curbed.com sort of website. (Don't be surprised if Miamista starts one. Miamista has been thinking that his next two projects will be in community education and a commercial Miami focused blog. That could make him a semi permanent Miami resident.)

I’ve done enough in trying to convince you all that you can use blogging to sell services and content to the rest of the country. Anyway, hope it helps!

How to Make Money With Your Blog-
Advertising Programs: 1. Commissions, 2. PPC Advertising, 3. Paid Content 4.Grants
1. Commissions

Affiliate programs, such as Amazon.com's Associates Program, provided the first ways for early solo and small Web publishers to make a few bucks on their websites. In these programs, an online retailer will pay you, the publisher, a percentage on sales made after customers click through from your website to the retailer's site. Links can include traditional banner ads, search forms and links to individual products. (You can also make a big commission on referring others to commision or PPC programs, something Miamista doesn't do.)

Because you only earn money when sales are made, affiliate programs will work best for you if your site's readers are consistently looking to make high-priced purchases -- for example, if you run a product review site. If you're interested in affiliate program, browse through merchant directories like Commission Junction to find retailers that offer products that fit your site's topic and audience.

*1Once registered with a merchant's program, you can create an ad or product link on your site using a snippet of Web code downloaded from the retailer. Some merchants go further and allow you to create virtual storefronts that match the design of your site, but where the retailer still handles all the inventory and commerce. Be careful setting up such arrangements -- unless you want customers coming to you for return and refund questions instead of to the retailer.

You'll want to note what percentage of a sale the retailer pays back to you, as well as the length of time after a sale that you get credit for the purchase. Some retailers limit credit to sales made on the initial click-through, but others will give credit for any sales made within a day or so. Also, some retailers will pay a commission on purchases you personally make after clicking your own links; others may kick you out of the program for doing that. Check a retailer's affiliate agreement and shop around for what you consider the best deal before putting links on your site.

· Commission Junction (www.cj.com) They have around 1300 companies from which you may choose to promote. Most merchants offer pay-per-sale or pay-per-lead, many merchants offer performance bonuses. You also have the option of direct deposit for your payments. They tell you which companies are earning the most money for affiliates. Commissions are different for each company, some go as high as 50%.

· Linkshare (www.linkshare.com) is one of the oldest affiliate programs on the web. Linkshare's Statistics and reporting are very comprehensive. Top brand merchants make this program worth your while. It has a large number of Fortune 500 companies that provide the affiliate marketer with well known products to promote.

· Shareasale Shareasale (www.shareasale.com) is another popular program. It has around 1,700 Merchants to choose from.

· ClickBank (www.clickbank.com) is a little different in that it deals mainly in digital download products. The commissions from ClickBank are much higher, usually around 40% to 50% or even higher. You have stiff competition from the best Internet Marketers who have large contact lists. Top marketers will often offer a whole array of their own bonuses when marketing a high ticket item. Niche products through ClickBank sell better.

· Same principle holds true for all these programs, little known niches will offer quicker returns for the beginning marketer. It has many nicknames for the different products but you can buy software programs to solve this problem.

· Amazon (www.amazon.com) Amazon is another online company that also handles some third party orders. ToysRus is one of their merchants. Very good stats and easy links to place on your sites. For instance, an average priced laptop will bring in around $25 in commissions. A commission from Independent affiliate programs like Alienware or Rockdirect would be double or triple that amount. They are known for a high conversion rate at Amazon. Consumers feel comfortable ordering from Amazon.
  • Advice for Using Commission Affiliates
    -Keep your eyes open and watch carefully to see which companies are doing a lot of advertising (tv, radio, newspapers) in the real world! Pick those same products or companies from any of the affiliate programs listed here and place the affiliate links on your sites.-Pick companies that do a lot of advertising, are household names and very familiar to your website visitors. The Internet is still a very scary place in most people's minds.

    -Many publishers have found that links to individual products return more commissions than banner ads going to a retailer's home page. But the additional money those links earn might not be enough to justify the extra time that selecting and maintaining them requires.

-Many commission affiliates will not allow you to either use a free Blogger site

-Many don't allow "excessive" foul language ( you can explain to their sales folk)

2. PPC Advertising

Most news websites earn the bulk of their money through CPC often just referred to as advertising. But you don't need a sales staff to attract advertisers to your site. Ad networks can handle the sale and display of ads on your site. All you need do is drop a few lines of code into your Web pages where you want the ads to appear.

The most popular ad network for independent publishers is Google's AdSense program. AdSense is a "pay per click" (PPC) program, where you earn money each time one of your readers clicks on a Google-served ad. Since you earn money on clicks, rather than completed sales, PPC ad networks can provide a more reliable source of income for sites whose readers are not looking to make a purchase right away. Other notable PPC ad networks include the Yahoo! Publisher Network, Casale Media, BClick, Adsensor.

Traditional ad networks such as BlogAds provide an alternative to the PPC networks. BlogAds sells its ads on a more traditional site-targeted model. Advertisers do not bid on keywords or phrases, but instead pay for their ads to be displayed a certain number of times on selected websites or groups of websites. BlogAds has become especially popular on political blogs, where advertisers can buy across a group of liberal or conservative weblogs.

Most PPC ads are text, but some PPC networks also sell image and Flash ads. Ads are sold and displayed based on an auction system, where advertisers bid on selected keywords and phrases that appear on network websites. The ad network looks for webpages displaying its ad code, then matches what it determines the content of a webpage to be with the most appropriate keywords and phrases that advertisers have bid upon. The network then automatically weighs several factors in determining which ads to serve on the page, including the value of those bids; advertisers' remaining budgets for those bids; what percentage of readers have clicked on those ads in the past; and, in Google's case, the percentage of those readers who have made a purchase or read a designated number of pages on the advertiser's site.

Since PPC ad networks target their ads primarily by topic, rather than geography or demographics, that makes these networks work better with niche topic websites than with sites that target their readers by geography or other demographics, such as gender, education, income or political affiliation.

For the system to work well for you, the PPC network's spiders must be able to determine a topic for each of your webpages and then must match keywords or phrases that advertisers have bid upon. That means the advantage goes to websites where each page covers a distinct and easily identifiable subject. So if you have a blog that covers a mishmash of topics on a single URL, you won't elicit the targeted ads that lead to high-paying clicks. Think about making separate blogs linked as a magazine blog if your blogs are wildly different in subject matter (imagine for example Miamistanews.blogspot.com, Miamistarestaurants.blogspot.com).

  • Advice for using PPC advertising:
    -Organize your content to limit individual URLs to a specific topic.
    -Break long blogs into individual entries. Archive old posts and stories by subject matter, not just by date and author.
    -Stay active on discussion boards, keeping threads on topic and directing folks to more relevant pages should they stray toward other subjects.
    -Use keywords in headlines, decks and URLs whenever possible.
    -Spell out keywords, phrases and proper names on first reference, rather than using acronyms throughout the piece.
    -Well-organized pages on individual topics also show up better in search engine results, attracting Web surfers curious about a specific keyword, who are more likely to click on a targeted ad.
    -Create evergreen articles that are likely to attract a high number of links and clicks over time will do best in attracting search engine traffic to their ad-supported webpages. If you publish time-sensitive articles, which are not likely to have a long-enough shelf life to attract significant search engine traffic, consider swapping out or archiving articles on the same topic to a single URL, so that URL can get linked to and picked up in search results.
    -Do not even think about excessively clicking the ads on your site, or encouraging your readers to do the same. All PPC ad networks prohibit click fraud, and will boot from their program any publisher found to be inflating their number of clicks.
    -According to recent Google research, top performing ad formats include:
    Large box ads placed in the middle of your main content column;
    Skyscraper ads placed in a left-side column;
    Leaderboard ads placed at the top and the bottom of the main content column.
    -Customize the ads' colors to match the background, type and navigational colors of your site, too, to eliminate "banner blindness" and maximize their visibility to your readers.
    -To a reader, ads -- like anything else on your pages -- are part of the content of your website. If an ad network fails to deliver consistently relevant ads, dump it and try something else. Respect your readers by not bombarding them with irrelevant advertising and they will respect you by continuing to read your site.
    -Reader-contributed content can also help you meet your page view goals. Well-managed, thoughtfully organized discussion boards and wikis can add dozens of new content pages a day to your site, with much less effort on your part than writing that many original articles.
    - If your site naturally deals with “perishable” news content, at least publish each day's new news to the same URL, overwriting or pushing down the old content, so that URL can build the in-bound links and search engine traffic that will help you attract new readers you need each day.
    -Think twice before installing pop-up, pop-under and screen "take-over" ads, too. Many readers steer clear of sites that block their access to the content they're looking for with aggressive advertising. Build the sort of loyal following that will deal with the more aggressive sort of ads. I find that joking about these ads help people get beyond their annoyance. Avoid key word ads altogether.
3. Paid content

Given the variety and depth of information available on the Web, you have to provide truly unique content of high value to specific readers to get those readers to pay for it. The fact that a paid journalist wrote an article for you does not mean it's worth paying for to a reader. Detail-oriented publications such as Consumer Reports and Cook's Illustrated have had success selling the results of their independent testing online. It is often easier to sell some sort of interactive service in walled off content area too. An example would be access to a forum with information and moderator input from an expert.

If you are certain that your content is unique and valuable enough that readers would be willing to pay for it, you'll need to select a way to handle payments from your readers. The system could be as easy as asking readers mail you a check in exchange for your putting them on e-mail content distribution list -- a method which offers the advantage of not requiring any advanced Web server security set-up. Or you could restrict access to certain folders on your website to readers whom you assign log-ins after they buy a subscription. Such restrictions are relatively easy to set up on Apache webservers. Payment can be handled manually via postal mail or phone, or automatically through an e-commerce storefront. (Many Web hosting packages include e-commerce storefronts.)

4. Sponsorships/Grants

Supporting a website through sponsorship or grants requires the least technical skill of these options, but the most interpersonal skills. You'll need to play the role of a salesperson, in addition to journalist and editor, in convincing a individual or organization to give you money to put up your site.

In either case, you'll need to identify individuals, or individuals within organizations, who might be willing to commit their money, or their organization's money, to your site. You'll need to make a written proposal, and often, an in-person pitch, and follow through until you secure your funding. Grants typically require a more structured application process than sponsorships, which can be sold through a formal solicitation or over drinks at the dinner table, depending upon whom you are working with.

The University of Iowa provides some guidance and a collection of links on grant writing in general, including links to many organizations which grant funds to researchers and publishers. And don’t forget, Miamista is a grant writer!

*1 There are also options to sell your own branded merchandise not discussed here.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Thoughts and Advice for Selling Out

(This post will be temporary. I will find some place to store it, perhaps on another site.)

I won’t bore you with layout and blog advertising rings. I will do a follow up on syndicated ads, ad rings and commission arrangements. But for now let's talk about how your blog can generate income.

What do you sell? You may be selling space on your blog for others to advertise. You may advertise your own services or goods. There are e-merchandisers that will let you design a logo and place it on t-shirts, hats, bags, backpacks and cups without ever having to buy inventory or ship items. You may create a new set of services as the time honored middle man of other people’s services and goods. And many bloggers just flat out ask for donations (including yours truly on one of his blogs).

I have a business that places students into top colleges and grad schools with favorable financial aid packages. I have also work as a consultant with a marketing business and I do grant writing for community development.

· A single blog and forum on each issue brings me clients. I also sell books and software at a mark up on the reduced prices I get. (For example, a person can purchase a book about getting into top colleges I co-authored on my site.) So the idea would be to sell whatever it is that you do or produce. There is no advertising that will yield more money than your advertising your own goods and services.
· Advertise on your own site to let people know that space is available. There isn’t the middle man of Adsense and Overture. Join a direct affiliate. They offer higher rates on your per click advertisements. Most will let you be selective in what you want to sell, i.e. something in relation to your site topic. Some advertisers give you discounts on products.
· Advertise local products for free in exchange for offering your readers a discount coupon. It may not immediately seem worth the trouble to have someone create a pop up for a coupon. If you have the right target you may generate leads for a service or small business that the seller eventually comes to appreciate. When the free trial is up the business may want to continue to the relationship on a fee basis.
· Join other people to help you with your blog work. I tend to be autocratic and opinionated about certain things (surprise). I don’t want information on my blog linked to my college prep site that I disagree with. However my employees and I are contributors to other people’s websites and journals.
· Help other people you do business with. I have a friend who is a coach of Olympic caliber athletes and a personal trainer. We have worked with getting students into top colleges with athletic scholarships and used marginal students’ athletic ability to help get them into competitive schools. He has a good rapport with a number of coaches and athletic directors. I offer referrals when appropriate and I usually get a referral fee. I also offer referrals to a financial planner that I trust. I have an MBA and a background in finance and accounting and I am a master at securing students financial aid. Sometimes however extra expertise would be helpful. These days however, I place prominent ads on my site with a write up that says I endorse them. I feel more comfortable explaining that they are trusted referrals that advertise on my site with my endorsement. It is a much better segue than saying, “hey, I know a fella…”
· Advertise. Yeah, you advertise. When I wanted to increase the rankings of my college prep site I had my website designed to be rankings friendly and I advertised. I learned not to just use Adsense and Overture. I advertised on blogs, which is much cheaper and brings better results.

Miami is perfect. There are real estate folks with advertising budgets as big as their greed. Soon there will be property managers trying to rent apartments for condos that aren’t moving. There are restaurants, hotels, clubs, taxis, rental cars, beach scooter rentals, boat rentals; in short everything that is needed to make tourists happy. There are always new suckers wanting to relocate and all that entails. Why isn’t there a bunch of local bloggers advertising to the punters?

The other thing Miami has going for it is a number of surprisingly good writers! What we lack in depth of talent we make for in quality. There are also a number of excellent photographers, both amateur and professional. I crashed a swank “new media” shindig with a friend who was actually invited. The big bloggers were there. In New York they had to get together venture capitalists and the mayor’s office to get people together to lure bloggers. In Miami we actually get along cooperatively in our little world without all of that. Will this actually get people to put together some cooperative platforms? Here’s some more advice.

· Go for the gusto. Ads may annoy us all but we are also use to them. Those intro screens, pop-ups, pop-unders, fly-overs, as well as the side bar ads all bring money. If people like your blog and have grown accustom to it they will close them or wait them out.
· As I pointed out, the key thing is to design your blogs to appeal to the largest audience possible while making your blog reliably on topic.
· Niches that target high-spending, well-educated readers—such as gossip, sex, and politics. Hit the sweet spot not hoi polloi. Gawker even claims to turn away advertisers that are too low-rent; no Ford or Chevy ads because they “hate American cars” and no pharmaceutical ads because their “readers are healthy and beautiful.”
· Getting an A-lister puts you on his “blogroll”, (but please do it with sincerity).
· Get lists of potential customers. If they came by your blog and commented on that subject then a single “hello from yourblogname did I mention I am offering” shouldn’t be seen as spam. Go easy there though! Err on the side of not annoying anyone.
· When Nick Denton of Gawker said you can’t make money at blogging everyone believed him. Denton and partners, veterans of the dot-com boom, sold their last company for $50 million. The lesson here: don’t be like John and encourage others. Miamista readers, it’s out secret.
· Crank out a few well written sites rather than just one. Or you may consider tying a bunch of pages on various topics together (like online “magazines”). It will not only increase your space for advertising, an individual topic blog may become a hit while others lag. Here are some Adsense numbers. Remember, this is only one funding source. Bloggers make much more by direct advertisement.

§ 33% earned under $30 per month
§ 16% earned between $30 and $99 per month
§ 11% earned between $100 and $499
§ 9% earned between $500 and $999
§ 4% earned between $1000 and $1499
§ 2% earned between $1500 and $2499
§ 4% earned between $2500 and $4999
§ 3% earned between $5000 and $9999
§ 1% earned over $10,000
§ 13% do not use Adsense
§ 4% did not wish to disclose their earnings

Monday, April 17, 2006

Can Miami Blog A New Miami?

I was having chatter with a one of my heroes, a former alt newspaper owner and writer. It was about blogs and changing media. There are a few dozen columnists/ news/ event blogs in “the city” (which is the self absorbed term New Yorkers use for New York and more specifically Manhattan). There are thousands of blogs.

Finding them is like happening upon a group of friends. You meet an interesting person and latter more of their people that get winnowed to a few mainstays. Then they lead into others… This why advertisers are willing to pay good money for bloggers with a following.

The advertising revenue for blogs written about New York is exponentially higher than Miami. I get quite a few shiny pennies for the group NY/LA/general blogs that I contribute to. Miamista wasn’t worth putting up the ads. Considering the highest payouts are in teenie bopper aimed celebrity/entertainment blogs that isn’t necessarily a plus for New York. (Disturbingly national, party affiliated rings also do well.)

I’ve used blogs to increase my own business. This is where commercially blogs work best. So far however, I have scrupulously avoided cross referencing Miamista with other blogs and business. I’d like to think that makes Miamista much more honest. It’s a conversation with a community that I know and care about.

“I saw your blog” or “What, you didn’t read my entry/column/post” or “Well as I was saying on my blog…”, have all become part of the daily conversation. This happens in my NY daily life and I suppose it will become ubiquitous with in Miami social life. Conversations on some topics become short hand b/c your friends have seen your blog. (I imagine some people are unhealthily denying themselves REAL interaction too.) I suppose that in some of my own *"isms" there are people I wouldn't talk to that I've had had in depth discussions on the internet. Exploring the implications would require another post.

I hope that the growth of local blogging continues from the core that anyone reading this blog is familiar with. One of the things that will help is not getting caught into a prototype of blogging, especially one that’s passe.

Gothamist, Metroblogging and blogs of that nature are fine in and of themselves. (A friend compared them to the Village Voice when it was a psuedo-radical 4 page flyer: great for its time but outdated.) These set ups do tend to blandly rehash the local top news stories. At this point however, we have a variety of sites that are blurring the lines between newspapers, weekly tabloids, magazines and even television. The line between print and electronic media itself has become not only blurred but inconsequential.

One of the more intriguing elements of blogging is the opportunity for interaction through comments (don’t say it, I just turned comments back on). Many alternative newspapers are using this, effectively turning online newspapers to wikiblogs.

I hope in the future our community expands, increases readership, explores cooperation and new formats. I also hope that as commercialism creeps into blogging we retain the honesty, integrity and breadth of perspectives that MSM so woefully lacks.
Blog On!

*Personal shout out- That quiet, unobtrusive and "unattractive" person they/we didn't talk to was quiet b/c there's a lot of idiots around and I was shallow to not call them on it, R.S. AND those people that don't see how beautiful you are are stupid! Stop making assumptions about me. I'm not a snob. Call me and tell me how your new job is going!!!! (I lost your contact info.)

Friday, April 14, 2006

Changes and Remaining the Same

(Pictures Gesu Catholic Church c. 1922 and Trinity Episcopal Cathedral c. 1896. Coconut Grove Playhouse c. 1926, Happy Easter!)
1. Possible Error warning. Vouching for people's integrity is a serious thing for me. I figure that individuals that despise me are near legion. As much as I don't give a flying leap about other people's dislike, wrong headed ideas or assumptions, I would take a moment to pimp smack the shit out of anyone who said I don't assist those in need much less take advantage of them. And I've also never treated an employee badly in my entire life. Those things go to character.

Five people shared their very dim view of yesterday's Miamista shout-out recipient. I knew one. Reasons? Maltreatment of employees and a lack of genuine concern for the needy. I spoke from limited knowledge and these people may be doing the same. Everything with a grain of salt. Notwithstanding I should have reserved that support for people I could vouch for regardless of such feedback. I have to be very honest here and say that I heard mixed reports about the SFICWJ so I thought I would go with him as your contact person. I hear that Fr. Frank Corbishley at the University of Miami is a good hearted soldier. Either way it's about the workers. We need to continue to support the unionization effort. 11 days into the hunger strike now!

2. Miami city manager Joe Arriola is going out wit' a bang! Undereducated, unqualified, ill tempered, corrupt and clownish? Yes. Boring? No! At a chamber of commerce forum this week he called columnist Jim DeFede Jabba the Hut, (complete with mocking hand movements and sound); another male reporter a make up wearing drunk, (with an obvious gay insinuation) and called a bunch of other folks all sorts of worthless, crybaby losers. Following this performance he promptly made his way to a Heat game where security had to be called because of his unruly behavior. (Recall he was thrown out of a game earlier this year for walking on the court, cursing screaming at officials.) The games were televised and I'm sure Arriola's latest outburst will make its way to a wire service sinc e it was videtaped... In recent weeks he reeled off expletive ridden tirades at/to reporters saying that he would go when he damn well wanted. After the news broke that he was being pushed into retirement he stated he "was just fucking with (reporters)".

His legacy will live on. Beyond his firing or demoting of 21 of 22 department heads and threatening new and old to do what he wants, no questions asked if they didn't want to be fired themselves; he also gave favored developers variances like gumdrops; hired unqualified cronies to plumb positions at unheard of salaries; threatened to withold hurricaine relief if residents did not vote for candidates he supported; illegally intervened into the process of firing a department head at the behest of a commisioner; handed out consultancy jobs to cronies; oversaw the waste and fraudulent misuse of millions of dollars for low income housing, forcing HUD to cut funding to the city; pushed through a backdoor pay raise for his boss; pushed through the illegal fire fee deal to pull the city of debt while enriching cronies and cheating citizens...

Even in academia his feats are recognized. This excerpt from the Herald: "CONFLICTS `AMAZING', Judy Nadler, a senior fellow in government ethics at Santa Clara University -- and a former Santa Clara mayor -- said Miami leaders' actions present so many potential conflicts it is ``amazing.''''I think I'm going to end up writing this as a case study,'' Nadler said, citing issues such as transparency and mayor-city manager relationships."

*Manny Dickhead reiterated his total support of Mr. Arriola throughout. Now he wants to be seen as finally seeing the light, by dealing rather sternly in not letting Arriola announce his "retirement". Arriola can't like that. More sparks?

*Note: An upcoming post will deal with what Manny could do to redeem himself and his political viability. Send your ideas.

3. Shortest story, quickest to be taken down from the Miami Herald site? Originally written in haiku, the story was expanded just enough to downplay the charges (notably differing from the original police report in tone.) Prosecutors nixed the felony charges and declined the abuse and resisting arrest charges against Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine "Prostitution of Prosecution" Fernandez Rundle's son. Both of her sons, who live at her residence, have criminal histories.

4. Miami-Dade teachers will get away with fraud and incompetence. It's not the fraud that bothers me as much as it is the imcompetence. I am aware of MDPS teachers that couldn't string together three grammatically correct sentences. MD teachers have resisted testing requirements for licensure. Add this in the "con" box for unionization.

5. Another reason to support the Unnicco strikers. I know many of you are feeling the crunch. (Tangentially related question: Do Mexican wrestlers come to the US to take the smackdowns that American wrestlers don't want to take?)

6. Senator Tancredo, the caring public servant that wants all Latinos born elsewhere to go home (he opposes any path to legalization of undocumented immigrants and repeal of the Cuban Adjustment Act); he has one sane idea in his immigration reform package. As it stands, vicious criminals from “bad countries” such as Cuba, Cambodia, etc. who cannot be deported have a get out of jail free card.

7. Miamista doesn’t trust the Coconut Grove Playhouse board for a second. Board members have links to developers that want the property. As you will remember, the certain board members resisted landmark designation. Later the board asked the city to make part of the building free from both zoning and landmark designation so that it could sell to that development group. Now they are going out business. The city donated the property, various government and private entities gave millions of dollars to upgrade the structure. Now the same board that has used the Playhouse for their own racket wants to cash in on millions of dollars of public giveaways by shutting down and selling. The evil schemers are using this last ditch effort because the Playhouse is in line to receive millions of more public dollars that will help it operate; thus no reason for sale to developers. Obviously the board needs to go. Enough of Miami “real estate development” through manipulation of government zoning laws, funding and public theft!

And for the record, no Cuban American with sense believes that Lucie Arnaz is talented or a star except Fabiola at the Herald. All the Jewish, Cuban, right-wing pandering plays in the world won't change that.

8. FIU takes a cue from the Coconut Grove Playhouse and makes a play of its own. Even Jeb Bush was turned off. Just when I was trying to be supportive of Mitch Maidique, the FIU president…

9. The tone, content and the set up of Miamista could be changing a bit. (Or could be set out to pasture. Blogging without a purpose is eccentric. Read on.) Miamista will be requesting topics of interest. I will try unfettered comments, giving you an address to send you private correspondence. Just have to experiment with a work around on Blogger to offer "recent comments". (After I see how things are going I may well abandon Blogger.) The original idea, which was to cover tourism, real estate, entertainment, style and a few other topics will be dusted off. Expect some postings along the lines of an about-town-diarist, though not necessarily by me. Tie-ins with potential advertisers won't be entirely shameless. Enough on this for now. Get at me before I frame somethings in my next posts. Private note: GJ, AA, CW, JR I hope your happy with me now! I know, I know, mail it back to last year when you were around and would have given a shit!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Sportin' News and More Guvmint Re-Form

1. Ingrates I tell you! (If you haven't been reading Steve Klotz start to immediately after reading Miamista!) The Marlins have been the perfect small market team, buying talent low and selling it high. As far as baseball, they couldn't have done things better. Obviously they need two things: an outside PR firm and some flexibility with the stadium thing.

The government should be flexible too but it may be too late. We've spent our way out of flexibility. I find it absurd that the city spent so much on the grossly over-budget and over-schedule MPAC, which should have been paid for by mostly private money (as other PAC's around the country are). At least a stadium is able to provide more services to the community and appeals to a wider base of users. Water under the bridge.

I do agree with the majority of "fans" here that Miami sports teams have to deal with the fan base they have. We need only recall the league low attendance at Heat games in rebuilding years. And a loss at a UM football game usually means the loss of fans for the rest of the season.

The other part of the equation is that Miami and Miami-Dade cannot support sports teams but Broward, Palm Beach and Dade together can. Look at the Dolphins and their fan base; largely Anglo and suburban with steadily increasing Latino fans. If half the population of your city was born elsewhere and most of them are poor, it's kinda hard to get them to concentrate on getting out to root for "the home team". (I got family in Miami who have been generational fans of the Yankees since their great grand parents lived in Cuba and would never change.) So you need to get a mix here obviously. Isn't our fault that the Marlins can't figure that out.

Still, the sound, "The MIAMI Marlins". It's gotta ring (or two).

2. In a recent Herald opinion piece, Merrett Sierheim takes a swing for the team. The team, the International City/County Management Association, has been pushing for its membership to speak out against the "Strong Mayor" form of government. By supporting the ICMA position, Stierheim seems to contradict himself from an earlier opinion. (Of course, everyone should be entitled to reversals based on new reasoning and evidence.)

Many in the community familiar with our area's history of government management and mismanagement raised a brow upon hearing Merrett's arguments. He has been, afterall a highly respected administrator of various municipal entities. Stierheim states that professionals of his caliber are far better stewards than the politicians that appoint them. Mr. Stierheim is known to have a healthy ego. I’m willing to allow him his ego; it’s been earned. IMO it is where it leads him that veers from reason.

There is little reason to believe that a strong municipal manager is necessarily more accountable or more insulated from politics. Even Stierheim’s assertion that professional manager selections are more qualified than politicians is a too broad generalization. The last two Dade County managers stand as proof. Both are/were widely regarded as highly politicized, barely competent and beholden to the political interesst of commissioners.

In fairness to Mr. Stierheim, he stresses that a city manager should have the requisite education, experience and ethical track record. That seldom happens in our various municiapal govermenments. For instance, the current City of Miami manager, Joe Arriola, has no education or track record whatsoever. No standards have been instituted by any Miami-Dade municipality.

There are other problems with his Stierheim’s argument. Managers can be blamed for failures of elected officials and often are. It is too easy to scapegoat a manager (because people seem to ignore that politicans should be held accountable for their lack of ability to hire a competent manager). I also don’t know that the process of removing a manager is that much easier than replacing an elected official. (Again, the entrenched evil troll, in the City of Miami’s manager’s office is evidence of this.)

There are answers enough to explore. The assertion that this an either/or argument is obviously a self serving characterization put forth by both sides. It is possible to create a strong mayor form of government with a professional manager, selected by a mayor and approved by commisioners. The division of power would be delineated by what represents agenda items and what represents bureaucratic management items. It should be pointed out that the nationwide movement has not been towards an either or solution but to some form of balanced government. (Municipal governments are also instituting mixed at-large seats and district seats.) Stierheim and the ICMA, as well as Miami-Dade Commsioners seem to ignore this.

There are other measures that can instituted to ensure a more answerable strong mayor. Shorter terms is an example but it leaves the question as to whether a three year term leaves enough time for policy outcomes to be judged. More reasonable would be ethics codes that with teeth. Stierheim argues this ensures professional conduct for municipal managers. It could reasonably be applied to a strong mayor. A strong mayor could be made more easy to remove through special referendum or by a no confidence by a unanimous vote. Budget approval and input by commisionerss is another way to assure a strong mayorship does not devolve into tyranny. Such measures have been used elsewhere.

Qualifications for elected officials who govern us should be something that the people pass judgement on. It is true that we usually botch the job, choosing self serving, interest driven politicians over those most qualified to run a city. If a community determines that it wants, for instance, a police administrator of a deeply troubled department who was also father to a serial rapist teenage son, rather than say a Harvard educated lawyer with demonstrated integrity who has steadfastedly pursued government reform and sound management, well, people get what they deserve. (That will be the last attack by Miamista on Mayor Alvarez until he actually DOES something. Geddit? Really, I want to like the guy.)

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Where to Find Weekend Notes + SUNDAY BONUS

Say ya want a new Miamista posting for the weekend? Check two posts down or click for "Weekend Notes"! Blogger isn't working properly (surprise) so I can neither copy nor move the post to today, Saturday, April 8, 2006. Hope you enjoy! Have a lovely weekend. -Miamista

I've got something of a Sunday Extra for you! My nominations for the new, weekly, Herald inspired, "WTF are YOU talking about award"!

Second Runner Up: Anna Menendez, Columnist. (I went to school with Anna and I hold her in high esteem but she is apparently still capable of a laughable gaffe)- The set up- Fearing that the FCAT places too much emphasis on ensuring that children can read, write and count in Florida, a parent opines, "I fear that students may graduate and not be able to recognize the difference between a Renoir and a Rembrandt, and that will be a loss.'' As opposed to learning to read and write? That wasn't the quote she wanted to use, I think. Incidentally Florida has the highest drop out rate in the US.

First Runner Up: Oscar Corral, Reporter. I don't read him so I could have missed other worthy performances. Reveries of delusion. Sometimes propaganda from all sides goes well beyond manipulation, shading, lying, etc. to becoming downright hilarious. The serial killer looking reporter writes, that reportedly, "A pro-government mob ganged up outside the Villa Clara home of dissident Bertha Antunez Pernet for an acto de repudio on August 24, threatening her so she wouldn’t carry out a vigil for political prisoners. She didn’t panic. She grabbed a couple of loudspeakers, placed them on her window, and cranked Willy Chirino music, reports Janisset Rivero, who runs the federally-funded Directorio Democratico Cubano with her husband, Orlando Gutierrez. The hostile crowd reportedly burst into dance, forcing the government organizers to send them home, Rivero said." Anyone listening to Willy Chirino is what gave up the lie. (In 2005, the US government provided over $8.99 billion in funding to groups working against the Cuban government. Miamista wants a piece of the action.)

Winner: Noah Biermann, Education Writer- There is a Sunday Herald "Top News Story" about a fraternity whose UF chapter is down to one member this semester. Okay, where is the "top" or "news" or "story" here? I mean this isn't even the top news story at the Daily Gator or whatever their paper is called. The Herald editorial staff should receive honorable mention here.