Friday, December 29, 2006

MVB Persons of the Year

Hands down, it's Sherrone and David Jenkins who won our Thelma Award for the most inspiring south Floridians. They are the parents of Sherdavia Jenkins, the 9-year-old killed by a stray bullet in a shootout in Liberty City on July 1st. For those not aware of their story, please visit the Miami Herald's multi-media section the paper created based on a remarkably moving series by Audra D.S. Burch. Their story reminds us that for most people, for those below the radar, life is a struggle the moment they wake each day. As the year comes to an end we want to recognize and applaud the Jenkins' ability to keep the faith in the face of grievous personal lost, to respond eloquently and with dignity to tragedy, and for their general perseverance without fanfare and their noble struggle without complaint.

UpDate (1/29/09): The City of Miami renamed a mini-park for Sherdavia Jenkins. The Sherdavia Jenkins Peace Park at NW 62nd Street and 12th ave comes "as Liberty City bursts with outrage over the neighborhood's latest fatal shooting -- a weekend (1/23/09) bloodbath that left two teenagers dead and seven others wounded."

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Gerald Ford, The Helsinki Accord, and Miami

Reflecting on the death of former President Gerald Ford, historians are giving him credit as a founding father of the human rights movement for backing the 1975 Helsinki Final Act that required the Soviet Union to recognize human and religious rights. Although the "Final Act" legitimized territory the communist state had gained following WWII in Eastern Europe, that human rights clause would eventually lead to the Soviet Union's downfall. Poland's Lech Walesa, Russia's Andrei Sakharov, and the Czech Republic's Vaclav Havel used it as a protective shield to stand up and fight the Russian giant. Tom Malinowski, Washington director of Human Rights Watch, said that although the Accord was "no more than a piece of paper" activists "were able to shame their governments into treating people a little bit better."

Which got us to thinking. Miami needs a Helsinki Final Act that will shame our local governments "into treating people a little better" and to protect its people from lying, self-serving, greedy bureaucrats and elected officials.

We are also reminded about the importance of place in creating who we are. Many have acknowledged that the culture of Grand Rapids, Michigan was very much responsible for making Gerald Ford the decent, humble man that he was. There is a culture steeped in what is commonly called and often derided as the "middle-American" virtues of common sense, fairness, self-reliance, and patriotism. We don't see much of that here unless, of course, you talk about a loyal following of vociferous immigrants and the locally elected who have a misguided apoplectic patriotism towards Cuba. Mostly though, if you live here long enough, you begin to see a culture that doesn't live by those virtues found in Grand Rapids. Instead, it seems to be a schizoid culture with misplaced loyalties bent on getting as much as it can in any way that it can even if it means trampling over those middle American virtues to get at the public trough.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

MVB's Top 25 Ideas of 2006

Although it's only been since July that MVB officially has had a public presence with the publishing of this blog, many of the ideas found here have been lobbied for years old school, i.e., via snail mail and the occasional confrontation, excuse us, meeting. We thought it might make an interesting end-of-the-year posting to gather them together in no particular order.
  1. Make it our civic duty to build the tallest building in the world in Miami on the "Boulevard of Giants."
  2. Carnival Miami Orange Bowl Parade: Revive the Orange Bowl Parade by bringing the best Rio Samba schools and floats to parade up and down Biscayne Blvd.
  3. Get our highly paid local artists and athletes to fork up some dough to support our arts through Slam Dunk for the Arts.
  4. Bring the International Toy Center to Miami.
  5. Connect Miami with Miami Beach with a Disney-style monorail.
  6. Put Cirque du Soleil in the Miami Arena or
  7. Attach a new baseball stadium/hotel/convention "megaplex" to the Arena.
  8. Scrap the streetcar for a jitney to employ people and save millions.
  9. Ditch the "Big Dig" and use the train.
  10. Create "Broadway South," a theater district around the Carnival Center for the Performing Arts.
  11. Use shipping containers for a fast, inexpensive solution to Miami's affordable housing crisis.
  12. Make Miami home of the first spaceport.
  13. Facilitate the Watson Island Mega-Yacht Marina where a symbiotic relationship will develop between it and the spaceport.
  14. "Give" the poor our shuttered public housing units in exchange for sweat equity.
  15. Accomodate the "Miami Circle" with a soaring, spirit-lifting, taxpaying condo/office/hotel tower.
  16. Make Miami the first "Airship" port in the world.
  17. Turn Overtown into "Soul Street U.S.A."
  18. Create a world-class surfing pool in downtown Miami.
  19. Use the FEC tracks for commuter rail now!
  20. Recycle technology, build the "Miami Monument" on the cheap.
  21. Recycle the "Harmonic Runway"-- make it the "Harmonic Bridge."
  22. Save the Miami Marine Stadium.
  23. Arc de Fun!-- Miami's answer to the Arc de Triomphe
  24. Joy Temple: Miami's Public Trophy Room.
  25. Free Lolita and build the biggest and best Miami FreeQuarium.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Merry/Happy (Insert Your Holiday) from MVB!

Yeah, I know, it doesn't sound the same when you're trying not to offend anybody by being politically incorrect. The sentiment loses its sincerity. But that's the price you pay for living in a multicultural community. Here at MVB, we have a plethora of religions ranging from angry Catholicism and Mossadic (not Hassidic, we be pro-active defenders of Israel) Judaism to pagan caveman nature worshipers and one agnostic, but then, you'd be one too if you were nothing more than a giant talking turd. Still, the way America has turned "the reason for the Season" into a mindless stampede toward materialism, it doesn't really matter what religion you are when December 25th rolls around. So, with that in mind, please click here to listen to MVB's "Christmas Song" to you.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Miami FreeQuarium

Me and the boys of MVB were sitting around talking and sipping mojitos, is our wont at the end of the day, when the lively conversation inevitably turned to the county commission's poster child for boorish behavior and environmental indifference. When Natacha Seijas recently beat back the citizen led attempt to have her removed from office, I wondered half seriously if perhaps our community might be jinxed. I was surprised by the response by our staff resident renegade on the run, Nokosee Osceola (first introduced here with his hot girlfriend).

NOKOSEE: You got that right.
VERTICUS: What do you mean?
NOKOSEE: My shaman, E.F. Hialeah says--

At this point, I was surprised to see the staff lean forward in anticipation. I sensed I had been missing out on something and made a mental note to attend more of the daily mojito sessions.

NOKOSEE: Free the fish.
VERTICUS: "Free the fish"?
NOKOSEE: Free the fish.

I must have been missing something. I looked around for help. The guys were nodding their heads in sage agreement.

VERTICUS: Okay, Nokosee, what the hell are you talking about?
NOKOSEE: Until you free the fish, this place will never be happy hunting grounds.
VERTICUS: "Happy hunting grounds"?

I sighed and tried to remember that Nokosee is the product of a Cuban mother and a Miccosukee/Seminole father who met at Hialeah High School and that getting a straight answer, an answer that I might understand without an interpreter, would require patience, something I'm not famous for. So I exhaled slowly once more through my mouth and waited, smiling hopefully that the young hunk sitting in front of me in a loincloth sipping the last drops of his mojito would be more forthcoming.

NOKOSEE: It's wrong to imprison the fish. Like all living things, we are born to be free.

I looked around at the guys.

VERTICUS: Does anyone know what the fvck he's talking about?

Eyes rolled, shoulders shrugged, but no one had a clue.

NOKOSEE: The big fish in the Seaquarium, you dumbkoff! Do I have to spell it out for you?

Nokosee's outburst caught us all by surprise. Although rumor had it that he had been groomed by his mysterious ex-Green Beret Nam dad to be the first of the "New Seminole" to take back south Florida, we hadn't seen any of that probable streak of genetic madness until now. I proceeded cautiously.

VERTICUS: You talkin' about Lolita the killer whale?
NOKOSEE: You got it, kemasabe. As long as she's kept in captivity, this land will be cursed.
VERTICUS: "Cursed"?
NOKOSEE: Big winds, bad people, and insurance rates skyrocketing right out the top of your chickee.

I was afraid to say anything and tried to conceal my astonishment that anyone today would believe in such nonsense when I guess Nokosee caught my left eyebrow rising slowly across what I thought was my best poker face.

NOKOSEE: You don't think the land and its people are cursed, do you?

A trembling smile broke across my face and I shrugged helplessly.

NOKOSEE: Did you know that California hasn't had an earthquake since they freed Willy?

I looked around for help. The guys turned away. I tried to keep my mouth shut, but I'm cursed too.

VERTICUS: Just mudslides and fires.

Nokosee jumped up and threw his cocktail glass down on MVB's terraza floor. It exploded in deadly shards. One stuck in Nokosee's calf and blood began to pump out but he never flinched or lost a beat.

NOKOSEE: That's for their other sins to mother earth!

With that, he set his bare foot on my desk, yanked the glass splinter from his leg and threw it at the Hooters calendar on the wall behind me. The glass shard stuck squarely in the middle of today's date. I swallowed deeply and turned to see him leaving a trail of blood across the floor and out the door. The resounding sound of the door slamming shut had us all jumping in unison.

As we paused to collect our breath and to wait for our collective heart beats to drop, it became clear to us after a much needed mojito refill, that the half-naked Seminole might be onto something. Especially after our resident archaeologist Bobby Bermudez, champion of the controversial notion that the Miami Circle is really a giant pre-Columbian "Smiley Face," suggested that history is full of cursed people and lands and despite intense scientific scrutiny, many have not been disproven. So, after another round from the mojito pitcher, we all agreed that freeing Lolita was worth the effort. By the end of the work day we approved the following course of action:
  1. Work to free Lolita.
  2. Propose a joint venture between the county and the Seaquarium to reinvent the old rusting hulk by turning it into the biggest and best fish-friendly aquarium in the world. No more performing mammals of any size-- except for the divers who will clean the tanks.
  3. Call the new tourist attraction FreeQuarium.
Over the following days following our communal hangover, we discovered more reasons to lift the curse. For example, we should work to remove the trained animal shows because of the methods employed. You can learn more about why we have taken this stance here and here.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Another Shooting, Another Day In Paradise

As the young bodies keep dropping all around us in Miami because someone was "disrespected" or someone wanted someone's rims or someone's girl or last, but not least, someone's money, check out these stats while listening to this catchy little ditty with a message: "Another Shooting" by Lori Rosolowsky.

  • In the last 18 months, 31 young people died from gunfire in Miami.
  • In a 2004 study by Sperling's BestPlaces, Miami was singled out as having the highest violent crime rate as well as one of the highest property crime rates.
  • In 2003, one kid or teen in the US was shot to death every three hours, nearly 8 every day, 54 a week, nearly 3,000 a year. 4 to 5 times that number survived bullet wounds.
  • The number of kids killed by guns in 2003 exceeded the number of American soldiers killed in Iraq for 2003 to April 2006.
  • More 10-19 year-olds died from gunshots than from any other cause in the US other than motor vehicle accidents.
  • Almost 90% of US kids killed by firearms in 2003 were boys.
  • Black kids are most likely to be victims of firearm homicide. In fact, the firearm death rate for Black males ages 15-19 is more than 4 times that of White males in the same age group.
Something ain't right in America. Something ain't right in Miami. The boys here at MVB keep thinking about the ones walking around with bullet wounds: 45,000 since those stats. That's a freaking city's worth of angry young people prone to "acting out." Lots of attitude. Lots of anger. Lots of bragging rights. We think about them "begatting" a new generation in a violent world that is the norm to them. Papa be bad. Papa be dead. Look at me wrong and you be dead too. So much anger and hatred. Where does it all come from? And what, if anything, can be done about it?

These are the kinds of questions that keep us up at night. With a loaded Smith & Wesson by the bedside.

Vote Today-- Make Seijas Go Away

As much as we would love to hear the fat lady sing tonight, we fear the recall vote will be all for naught-- unless an early Christmas miracle takes place. According to the Miami Herald, Commissioner Seijas and her political machine has amassed over $400,000 to fight the recall vote. $245,680 came in 19 days. She's spent $160,000 on Spanish language radio and TV in the last few weeks alone. In contrast, Citizens For Positive Change and Citizens to Recall County Commissioners have raised $46,000 between them. It's embarrassing. It's moments like this that remind us how useless this blog is at affecting change. Seijas will get all of the old Cubans in Hialeah to vote to keep her in office and there is nothing anybody can do about it. When she wins, emboldened, she will become even more insufferable. Pray for an early Christmas miracle, kids. To help God along, make sure you get out and vote if you live in Hialeah or Miami Lakes today. Polls close at 7pm.

UpDate (12/20): As predicted, Seijas won on the backs of old Cubans bussed in to vote early. It's a sad day in Miville when only 11 percent in the district voted. It also shows how money can force the outcome of an election when the electorate is inured to public corruption and is willing to overlook boorish behavior to vote with their hearts instead of their minds. Until its citizens stop voting ethnically and start voting ethically, Miami will always be a contender and never a champion in the world when it continues to elect bullying, obstructionist, self-serving public officials based on party lines and those divisional lines of race, religion, and place of origin.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Time Magazine Chooses MVB as "Person of the Year"

In the words of the "Kang": "Thank you. Thank you very much."
In the words of Sally Field: "You like me. You really like me."
In the words of Verticus Erectus, publisher of MVB: "What, no honorarius?"

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Cool Things Made in Miami: Chopper Nation

Could Miami become the Detroit for choppers?

It will if Victor Cabanas, founder of Chopper Nation has anything to do with it. Because most choppers are hand made one-off customs requiring hundreds of hours to build, average prices hover around $60,000 and go up from there. He, like Henry Ford, realized you could open up the market to more buyers if you could reduce the price of the product. Henry Ford did it through the invention of the assembly line.

Victor Cabanas is doing it by replacing time intensive sheetmetal work-- such as pounding out gas tanks and fenders by hand-- with "stamping" those items from steel presses-- just like they do in automobile plants around the world. Henry Ford is quoted as saying, "You can have any car in any color as long as it is black." Chopper Nation will get you onto a chopper for as little as $25,000 as long as it is black-- the company's bare bones introductory model.

For those with more discretionary income, the sky is the limit. At the top of the line is a chopper pictured here that uses nitrous oxide (NOS) for an added kick Despite using interchangeable parts, paint jobs and accessories like the NOS package still make each bike a custom.

More things we like about Chopper Nation:
  • They make their own distinctive frames that include a twisted downtube. Many custom bike shops-- including the Discovery Channel's famous Orange County Choppers-- buy their frames already pre-made.
  • The location. If you live in south Florida, it couldn't be easier to get to their facility. It's right on the west side of I-95 at NW 108th Street.
  • They will be introducing a "soft tail" design at a comparably low price.
You can read more about Chopper Nation at Crossroads Magazine.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Miami Spaceport

One of the things MVB has been advocating since its short time in cyberspace is for Miami to build the world's first spaceport here and here.

Compared to the competition, we could do it relatively inexpensively and quickly by using the existing jetport lying fallow 35-miles west of Miami in the Everglades. Unfortunately, it looks like we won't be first-- even though ex-Governor Bush had formed a committee to look into making a spaceport a reality in Florida. (As an aside, part of MVB's mission statement besides using the blog to pick up girls is to not only advocate "things" but to actually act on those ideas. In that regard, we got in touch months ago with Bush's point man for the spaceport. We told him about the jetport. He didn't know it existed. We sent him pictures and info and have heard nothing since-- which is normal afterall when you consider that this is the "Rodney Dangerfield of Blogs").

Originally, we thought people were going to be launched into space from airport runways at commercial airports. It turns out these Virgin Galactic rocket planes need lots of room around them, hence the first regularly scheduled spaceflights for civilians will in all likelihood take place somewhere in New Mexico because of the open space and the fact that the state is already constructing a spaceport. Too bad for us because the jetport has the required runway length (over 10,000 feet) and open space-- with the Atlantic Ocean thrown in for good measure. We thought since Sir Richard Branson has a home here, maybe that would be enough to rustle up some interest. Guess not.

Still, in hopes of keeping the idea alive regarding Miami becoming one of the few cities in the world that has a spaceport, we thought our two loyal readers might enjoy this way cool Virgin Galactic video and animation.

UpDate (12/17): It looks like the Feds are a little nervous about flying civilians into space. The FAA will require future space tourists to sign a waiver promising not to sue the government should anything go wrong.

Friday, December 15, 2006

The Chihuahuas' Revenge

As MVB Predicted: The Miami Herald's Fiedler Was The Next To Go

As we predicted on October 5th, Tom Fiedler, Executive Editor of the Miami Herald would be the next to go. Officially Fiedler's exit is retirement but we all know the real reason. You just can't go around calling Cubans "Chihuahauas" in this town and expect to get away with it.

As for his replacement Anders Gyllenhaal, editor and senior vice president of The Minneapolis Star Tribune, all we can say is "Good Luck, buddy. You're going to need it."

The clock is ticking down on Umoja Village

As predicted, the government would find a way to remove the homeless and their leader Max Rameau from the makeshift "Umoja Village" they erected on public land in Liberty City 53-days ago. With each passing day, the world is reminded that Miami and the county are doing an embarrassingly shabby job at providing affordable public housing and it officially became too much as the squatters at the "Village" were served notice yesterday when the City of Miami voted 3-2 to change the rules for public assembly. From now on any citizen gathering held on government land not generally open to the public-- must obtain a permit. It becomes final in January when commissioners are required to vote on it again. Only commissioners Marc Sarnoff and Tomas Regalado voted against the rule change sighting First Amendment challenges to free speech and the right to assembly.

Call us jaded from having lived here for so long, but we suspect that pressure was put on commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones, an African-American who represents that part of Liberty City, to introduce the rule change. She said she was getting calls from her constituents to get the squatters out of there because they were having a bad influence on the community. In truth, the pressure was probably coming from developers and the mayor's office to make Umoja Village go away and it would look better if the rule change came from one of their own. Why else would Spence-Jones ignore the outrage from activists and leaders from five area churches who want the "Village" to remain?

As reported in the Miami Herald, Rev. Ralph Ross of the Historical Mt. Zion Baptist Church said, "They want to tear this place down. This place says our leaders are not doing what they can for our people." Rev. John Cox of Holy Redeemer Catholic Church added, "With regards to Umoja Village, the church embraces the residents as our brothers and sisters. We regard them as good neighbors-- in fact, better neighbors than some with more means."

Rev. John, too bad your sentiments aren't enough anymore in a world where only money talks.

As for Max Rameau, unless the Miami City Commission comes to its senses in January for the final vote, be prepared for an ignominious, but legal, eviction. Since the law may be against you, your only ally, aside from the church which no one seems to be paying much attention to lately, is the Fourth Estate, the poor's last resort talisman against a bullying, self-aggrandizing government. Keep them abreast of the situation. Make sure you send out press releases to cover "Christmas at the Village". Knowing the press is all over the "Village," maybe, just maybe, the City of Miami won't try to run you and your homeless brothers and sisters out of town. We're sure the last thing they want is another Time magazine cover story with cops behaving very third-worldly cracking heads with the same zeal found in south American dictatorships as they tear down your shantytown and try to bury everything it stood for.

5 Days Left Till Seijas Recall Vote

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Miami-Dade Schools Credo: Winning is Everything Even If It Includes A Gang Bang With A 14-Year Old

Saturday, December 9th, the state Class 5A football title was won by Miami Northwestern High, thanks in part to Antwain Easterling, its 19-year-old running back who "started despite admitting being part of sequential consensual group sex with a 14-year-old girl" in the school's restroom. Following is a remarkable excerpt from a Miami Herald sports editiorial by David J. Neal, a black writer:

"Where was one subatomic particle of halfway decent adult guidance that there are consequences for unacceptable actions? Easterling's mother, other family members, even a man of the cloth, went to the school Friday and made a plea for him to play. Great lesson.

"Northwestern coach Roland Smith didn't say 'no play.' Northwestern principal Dwight Bernard didn't either, and was too gutless to explain to parents of young girls why he allowed a student who said he committed a sex crime on campus to represent the school. Dade County Public Schools superintendent Rudy Crew didn't overrule Bernard.

"In other words, three black men completely abdicated their role as community leaders and role models in a manner that parallels the way too many of my brothers desert their parental responsibility.

"And so is the example set for the continuation of several cycles that's not just sad. It's sick. "

You said it, Mr. Neal-- and better you than O.W.G. Last time I looked, if a white guy ever said anything like this, he'd be tarred and feathered-- figuratively speaking-- by African-Americans. Maybe that's why most of us keep our mouths shut. You can't blame us, even Bill Cosby gets the heat from "you people" when he "says it like it is." Of course, this story on its surface isn't really about race, its about winning at all costs, not doing the right thing, and setting the wrong example for kids, but in America, it's always about race in the end. We urge you to read the editorial before the Herald cuts it from its website.

Oh, yeah, keep an eye on this kid-- we're sure Antwain Easterling will get recruited into a top college and go on to make more money than you and I can ever dream of. As ex-con Don King would say, "Only In America!"

UpDate (2/8): Yesterday, a rather subdued Easterling signed with Ol' Miss.

UpDate (March): Easterling is busted and later fined for marijuana possession.

UpDate (6/4): Because of a grand jury investigation, principal Dwight Bernard is booked into Miami-Dade county jail on two third-degree felony counts of official misconduct. The Miami Herald also notes that Echezabal was promoted to sergeant after the police union complained of retaliation. To see an amazing video of Bernard getting arrested and led to jail plus a look at the state attorney's palatable discuss with school administrators, click here.

UpDate (7/11): Superintendent Rudy Crew fires the head coach and the entire football staff.

UpDate (9/14): Miami Northwestern becomes national champions by beating Texas high school football team Southlake Carroll in front of a national TV audience at SMU's Ford Stadium.

UpDate (2/24/08): Southern Miss suspends Easterling for violation of team rules. It is the second punishment for Easterling who was placed on indefinite suspension for a violation of team rules in November.

It's A Poopy Babalu Blowout!

Somehow MVB got this invitation yesterday. Probably an email blast. We know we're on somebody's list because of the "clicks" on our phone calls. In any event, they want us to perform "Poopy Babalu" at the party. We're thinking about it.

Join your commissioners
(except Miss Goody Two-Shoes Sorenson)
and C. "Boss" Poop
at our
"Poopy Babalu Blowout!"
Tuesday, December 19th at
Club Poop.
  • Come celebrate with us Commissioner Seijas' win over the recall vote!
  • Congratulate three commissioners for their "Poopy Head" Hat Trick!
The Victory Party starts at 6PM.
Free Food and Open Bar
Compliments of our "Special Interest" Friends.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

The "Poopy Babalu" Song

Add some mood music while reading the "Poopy Babalu" song:

Friday, December 08, 2006

As 2006 Comes To An End Only One Miami-Dade County commissioner Makes It Through The Year "Poopy Head" Hat Free: Katy Sorenson

As her fellow commissioners danced the "Poopy Babalu" around her this year earning well-deserved "Poopy Head" hats for pettiness and their continued attempt to hold onto power at the expense of the public, only Katy Sorenson finishes the year "Poopy Head" hat-free. Although we may not agree with her on everything, she was at least consistent when it came to voting against issues that threatened citizens' rights. Standing for something bigger than you instead of self-interest is a rare and beautiful thing to see especially in this county. We applaud her for not buckling under the pressures lobbied upon her and resisting becoming a member of "Club Poop."

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Miami Dade Commisioner Jose "Pepe" Diaz wins his Third "Poopy Head" Hat!

Somehow it escaped MVB that Miami-Dade county commissioner Jose "Pepe" Diaz introduced two ordinances that basically make it more difficult for citizens to petition their government. The first one is the "anti-lying" ordinance (passed by a 11-2 vote) which makes it a criminal offense for petitioners to intentionally lie to induce voters to sign a petition. On the surface, it seems like a good idea. Digging a little deeper reveals a major flaw: how can you prove the "lying" is intentional. Maybe the petitioner is just ill-informed. Or didn't express him or herself correctly. What really matters is how the petition is worded. MVB believes it puts another undue burden on those who want to petition their government. Besides, there are already state laws giving prosecutors legal means to fight petition fraud.

The other ordinance (passed 12-1) requires a separate piece of paper for every signature and allows people to remove their names after15-days. MVB believes this puts an undue financial and bureaucratic burden upon the petitioning group and, although it may not seem unconstitutional in this third world government, it reeks of unconstitutionality outside it.

Tuesday, commissioner Diaz twisted the knife in a little deeper when he introduced another bill that would allow only registered voters to circulate petitions and collect signatures as well as requiring petitions be translated into Spanish and Creole. Basically, instead of having a choice to hire professional companies to run your petition campaign that reside outside the county, petitioners would be forced to shop from an artificially reduced pool of limited resources that could lead to rising costs for the petitioners, costs that might make your right to petition cost prohibitive and limit your effectiveness. Translating petitions into three languages that require one summary page per signature escalates the cost of everyone's right to petition their government and seems unnecessary and unfair. It also begs the question, where will it stop? There is a large Russian speaking population in northeast Dade. Shouldn't there be a Russian language translation? What about our large Portuguese speaking population? Shouldn't they be included too? It looks like Diaz-- and the commissioners that voted in favor of these ideas-- is hiding behind the appearance of doing the right thing for the people at their expense, i.e., he's smiling perversely when telling you it's for your own good while usurping your rights with a freedom flushing enema. For that, we happily bestow his third "Poopy Head" hat. He now has risen to the "Top o' the Heap" with commissioner Seijas and has been given a new nickname: Jose "Poopy" Diaz.

Because they backed these ideas, the rest of the Miami-Dade county commission also earns another "Poopy Head" hat. The only one "Poopy Head" hat free is Commissioner Katy Sorenson who has managed to refrain from stealing citizen rights by voting against these cockamamied ideas every time they come up. For that, MVB has something special planned because we believe in recognizing the positive as well as the negative when it comes to local politics. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Countdown to January 23rd: Michael Putney explains why it is a good idea to vote for the strong mayor referendum

Michael Putney has been a a respected journalist in our community for a long, long time. Cerebral, even-handed, he's WPLG-Channel 10 ABC affiliate's senior political reporter who occasionally writes op-ed pieces for the Miami Herald. Today's Herald article nicely sums up the case for voting for the strong mayor referendum on January 23rd and should be read by anyone still wondering how to vote. It's a nice summary of all the bureacratic governmental BS that's been going on during the last year and justifies our begrudgingly bestowed "Poopy Head" hats to some commissioners and county manager George Burgess. His suggestions at the end are quite good for creating a more accountable government.

It's time to restructure county government

I got taken to the woodshed for my last column, which recited some of the latest instances of waste, fraud, corruption and mismanagement in Miami-Dade County government. And I wondered who, if anyone, was minding the store down at County Hall.

George Burgess summoned me to his 29th floor office to let me know, in no uncertain terms, that he is. What's more, the Miami-Dade County manager made a fairly compelling case to back up his claim. True, he has dumped, demoted or transferred several county executives and other employees who screwed up. Also true, he has replaced them with generally capable managers who seem to be doing a good job. Burgess and his assistant managers and department directors work closely with the county's top internal cop, Inspector General Chris Mazzella, who has a green light to ferret out any county worker who cuts ethical corners or breaks the law.

''There will be cheaters who will figure out ways to cheat the system to the end of time,'' Burgess told me, ``but we're going to find them and get rid of them. I want these corruption issues attacked and exposed.''

Whispering approval

I have no doubt Burgess is sincere. Yet why did I get a bunch of e-mails after my last column from current and former Miami-Dade employees telling me that lack of meaningful oversight in county government is even worse than I reported? Why did so many line, mid-level and even high-ranking county employees take me aside in recent days to whisper in my ear that my Who's minding the store? column was right on the mark?

I left Burgess' office a believer in his dedication to ridding the county of employees who want to wrongly profit from their positions or get a free ride. I also left with a few bruises, but I get paid to take lumps from time to time from those who disagree with what I write or say. Still, it's incompetent or dishonest county workers who should be leaving Burgess' office with bruises and without their jobs. For better or worse, kicking butt is simply not his style.

This drumbeat of bad news -- hundreds of unauthorized cellphones at Water & Sewer, a mail room clerk allegedly stealing $1 million, firefighters on bogus ''fire watch'' assignments, a $1 billion cost over-run on the North Terminal at MIA, phony contractor licenses, fraudulent tuition reimbursements, etc. -- all redounds in favor of Mayor Carlos Alvarez's campaign for strong mayor. I have little doubt that it will pass next month. But anyone who thinks that creating a strong mayor will alone stop or reduce the mismanagement and corruption in Miami-Dade government is kidding himself. It might be a step in the right direction, however, in tandem with several other reform measures.

• Create a county commission with, say, six at-large seats and seven from districts. That would lessen the parochialism that now pervades the commission and still allow for minorities to be elected.

• Pay commissioners a reasonable full-time salary and require that it be their full-time job. Commissioner Carlos Gimenez proposes $114,000 annually (half the mayor's salary) plus reasonable benefits.

• Break out a couple of the county's largest departments (Port of Miami, Housing Agency) from the manager's portfolio and provide oversight with citizen boards similar to the Public Health Trust that runs Jackson Memorial Hospital.

The Jan. 23 vote on strong mayor should be just the start of a discussion about restructuring Miami-Dade government. I suspect the mayor would take part, but I have my doubts about the commission. Last week they elected one of their most mediocre members as their chairman and passed resolutions that criminalize petition drives. And in a fit of pique, Commissionaer Natacha Seijas put an item on yesterday's agenda that would cut the mayor's salary in half.

Can we realistically expect the 30,000 Miami-Dade County employees to behave more ethically and honestly with the example set by the elected officials who lead them?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Meet Lincoln Basel, MVB's Resident Art Critic

Lincoln Basel has returned from Boston for the annual Art Basel Miami Beach art fair running December 7-10th. The following interview with our resident art critic was conducted by staff writer Max "Gumsandals" Cohen in the lobby of the Delano Hotel.

MVB: Welcome back to Miami Beach, Lincoln.
LB: What a smart outfit, Max Cohen. I just love those retro Hawaiian shirts you wear. Is that Rayon? I don't think cotton is up to capturing those neon colors.
MVB: It's a polyester blend of something or other.
LB: And the sandals, with you they're never out of fashion.
MVB: Thanks. So what do you think about this year's fair?
LB: Well, as you know, my favorite artist Verticus Erectus won't be exhibiting this year because he got involved with this cockamamied blog and that is a real shame.
MVB: But there will still be thousands of artists from around the world to pick and choose from.
LB: That is true, Max Cohen, but for me the joy is in the discovery of the undiscovered artist-- like Verticus Erectus on that back alley wall in your "arts district."
MVB: Wynwood. Would you mind telling us how that happened?
LB: It would be my pleasure, Max Cohen. I remember it like it was just yesterday. I had grown bored with the Euro trash and their feeble attempt at overpriced art in the "official" fair and decided to catch a shuttle out to your-- I shudder to say-- "arts district;" a very gruesome place-- especially at night-- of non-descript warehouses and empty streets that at any other time of the year would instill fear in the bravest of men. And I must say, I had second thoughts about getting off the shuttle when I saw the place, but I'm always up for an adventure and decided to take the plunge. I know I must have stuck out like a sore thumb. Everyone was wearing black except for me. I, of course, chose to dress to the nines in my custom tailored white tuxedo. Although I must admit I admired the area's laid back approach to art what with "art lovers" crowding the sidewalks and drinking bottled domestic beer, unfortunately, nothing caught my eye until I stepped around a rowdy bunch of art connoisseurs and happened to glance down a back alley. A small group had gathered around something glowing on the dark wall. Neon it was and I am such a sucker for things that glow and glitter that I had to see it. It was a special moment, Mr. Max Cohen. The crowd must have seen me coming because they parted on cue-- I swear this is true-- with the absolutely heavenly sounds of a harp. I felt I had stepped into the Twilight Zone it felt so surreal. As it turned out, it wasn't as surreal as I had thought. There really was a harpist there in a long formal gown, sitting on an upended trash can next to the painting. And a man. He was urinating on the wall on the opposite side of the painting. I couldn't tell if this was some sort of performance piece or what. The smell was atrocious. As it turned out, it was the artist himself, Verticus Erectus, relieving himself in front of everyone without a care in the world.
MVB: He has an enlarged prostate.
LB: So I soon discovered. At the time, however, the crowd mistook his actions for something more meaningful than that. When someone began to applaud, I guess no one wanted to look bad by missing the "deeper meaning" and soon everyone was applauding. Until he turned around, that is. He was so enraged he didn't wait to put his privates away and hosed the crowd with what I can only guess was a bloated bladder full of beer.
MVB: Ugh. Did he get you too?
LB: He surely did, Mr. Max Cohen. All over my nice new tux. I was stunned. Horrified. I couldn't move. And such a Mr. Dirtymouth. I've never heard such filthy language.
MVB: What did you do?
LB: Well, my first thought was to smack him across the head with the harp but some art lovers beat me to the punch, so to speak, by pummeling him to a bloody pulp. I must say, I was sickened by what I saw and had to step back as the crowd-- women included-- kicked the living bejesus out of him. And you know what he did, Mr. Max Cohen?
MVB: No, what did he do?
LB: He yelled at the harpist to keep on playing.
MVB: You're shitting me.
LB: No I am not, Mr. Max Cohen, Mr. Dirtymouth. And you know what?
MVB: What?
LB: She did.
MVB: Fvcking A!
LB: Is everyone at this blog a Mr. Dirtymouth?
MVB: Sorry, Lincoln, please go on.
LB: Anyway, when I turned my head away I saw the painting. It looked to be hovering in front of the wall. I was transfixed. The juxtaposition of the heavenly music with the brutal bashing of Mr. Verticus Erectus and his floating painting on the dark alley wall was too much for yours truly. It actually brought me to tears. When I couldn't stand it any longer, I pulled out my Walther PPK and fired it once in the air.
MVB: You fired a gun?
LB: Not just any gun, Mr. Dirtymouth Max Cohen. It's James Bond's weapon of choice.
MVB: Don't you think that was a little drastic?
LB: Not for art. I haven't had a piece of art reach out and touch me like that since 1969 when I stumbled onto Adam Turtle's work in Coconut Grove when I was a pot smoking hippie. Anyway, the startled crowd stopped beating up Verticus Erectus and, after gathering their composure, began applauding me as if I were part of the "performance." And then they started applauding themselves because it occurred to them that they too were part of the performance. Before you knew it, they were helping Verticus Erectus up and brushing him off and thanking him for the "experience." It was then that I realized I was witnessing pure bloody genius at work. Here was an artist who had covered all the bases. He had left nothing to chance and was brave enough to risk his own life for his art. Oh, yeah, and the use of neon is always a plus.
MVB: Unbelievable.
LB: Unless you were there, Mr. Dirtymouth Max Cohen, unless you were there.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Cool Things Made In Miami: Krinklglo

Want Fiberglas reinforced plastic (FRP) panels up to 5x20 feet that glow in the dark? There is only one place to buy them in the whole world and that's where they're made-- right here in Miami. The glow is as intense as Kryptonite. Imagine whole buildings clad in this stuff. It would be like looking at Oz at night. The company, Dimensional Plastics has been located in Hialeah since 1963 producing its patented line of custom FRP panel stained glass substitutes called Krinklglas. Although they do custom "stained glass" work to your specs, the company is primarily a manufacturer of a variety of decorative FRP panels with machining and cutting-- they can be cut and drilled like wood-- done on site by the buyer. Another product it produces, Panel Blok, is an economical and quick solution to glass block. Because it comes in different thicknesses, the thinner panels can be bent into tight and undulating curves glass block can't match. Best yet, the thicker varieties meet the tough Miami-Dade County code for hurricane panels and the thickest ones will stop bullets.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Pettiness Personified

What's with county commissioner Seijas? A while back, she was so worried the Island Gardens Watson Island project would suck up so much of her precious water that she required the developers to come back a fourth time to prove her wrong*. As a member of "The Seven," she fought tooth and nail Mayor Carlos Alverez's strong mayor referendum which would take much of the commission's power away. After losing three times in the courts over that issue, she yesterday threatened to attach a rider to the January 23rd referendum that would ask voters to drastically cut the mayor's salary by 95%, from $229,083 to $12,000.

Unbelievable. We suspect the "water thing" had something to do with not getting respect and throwing her weight around to show everybody who was boss. This time around it looks like a petty reaction to the mayor getting his way.

In any event, this kind of behavior has sent her to the "Top o' the Heap" with her third MVB Poopy Head hat.

*Commissioners voted unanimously on November 28th to allow the Islands Gardens project to proceed so we guess Ms. Seijas' concerns were answered favorably.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

January 23rd

Remember that date. Everything after it will be forever changed if you live in Miami-Dade County. At least until the next referendum. Until then, give county Mayor Carlos Alverez's government tweaking a chance to work by voting FOR his STRONG MAYOR proposal on JANUARY 23rd.

Despite numerous attempts by the majority of the county commission to block the public's right to vote on it which included paying outside attorneys large amounts of our tax dollars to fight it in the courts, commissioners reluctantly accepted the fact that they can't win and voted yesterday to allow the election to proceed on January 23rd-- one day before the county charter required it be held. For those who can't wait to "clean house," early voting begins January 8th.

Unfortunately, the commission also elected a new chairman whose main objective seems to be campaigning against it. According to the Miami Herald, commissioner Bruno Barreiro said, "We have to go out there and work it," regarding "a campaign to defeat the strong-mayor referendum. 'I've campaigned in the trenches-- some people say I like that better than actually legislating.'"

Beautiful. Instead of performing his sworn duties, this guy is going to focus on convincing the public to vote against the proposal. Worst yet, he is quoted as saying that he is considering putting "resources into it from public funds or raise the dollars privately" to mount the campaign against it.

Using public funds to campaign against a government initiated legally decreed right to vote? Talk about an insensitive public official disconnected from grasping the American concept of fair play. No wonder we're considered by many to be a Third World enclave in the most advanced civilization in the world. For adding to that perception and for refusing to play fair at the public's expense, the new chairman of the county commission gets his second MVB "Poopy Head" hat.

If this kind of "in your face" BS makes you as crazy as it does us, MVB urges you to pull a "Howard Beale" by going to the polls and announcing to the world with your vote that "you are mad as hell and aren't going to take it anymore!"

For those who would like to thwart chairman Barreiro's efforts by actually working against him, check out Citizens 4 Reform.

UpDate (12/1): Join County Mayor Carlos Alverez and others TOMORROW (Saturday) at the grand opening of the Citizens 4 Reform campaign office in Hialeah. Time: 1pm Address: 3800 West 12th Ave., #3. Phone: 786-282-8333.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Miami Buyers Lining up for $1.3 Million Sports Car

It's called the Bugatti Veyron. Only 300 of the French "super cars" will be built. Out of the 100 orders the company has received, 10 came from Miami. Now for some eye-opening stats:
  • Top speed is 256 miles per hour.
  • Goes from zero to 100 miles per hour in 2.5 seconds and then decelerates to a stop in 2.3 seconds.
  • Guaranteed not to overheat "during summer months in Miami," assures Georges Keller, head of communications for Bugatti.
According to this recent article found in Miami Today, Miami is a "hot bed for elite car owners" and a "good market for the Veyron." Another company spokesman was quick to remind us that the Veyron can also be driven slowly much "like a Bentley or a Lexus."

Monday, November 27, 2006

Carnival Miami Orange Bowl Parade

MVB misses the annual King Orange Bowl Parade down Biscayne Boulevard. It put the world's spotlight on Miami and brought families and the community together for 62-years until it was canned in 2002 because of dwindling numbers disappointed by cut-rate floats and no-name entertainment.

MVB thinks we should bring it back re-dressed (or undressed) as "Carnival Miami Orange Bowl Parade" with the floats and most of the marchers representing Rio's winning samba schools.

If done right, it could pay for itself and maybe make a few bucks that could be channeled back into an affordable housing fund. Realistically, to bring the winning floats and dancers here would require a massive amount of logistical planning which won't be cheap-- but if positioned properly with sponsors picking up the tab and securing TV rights, it would become the only viable sexy alternative to America's more traditional parades which probably is enough for it to find big bucks advertisers. As an example, the dancers from the "Paraiso do Tuiuti" samba school and their float could be flown in and sponsored by Burger King or Bacardi. DHL, with its North American base in Broward, could trade off flying in floats for "free" advertising along the parade route in the form of banners hung from streetlights. Or, for "naming rights:" DHL Carnival Miami Orange Bowl Parade. Hey, it might be a mouthful, but it works for us. This would be the "Americanization" of Carnival-- and there is nothing wrong with that if that's what it takes to bring it here-- especially if it helps fund affordable housing. The many membered schools would get a free vacation in Miami/Orlando-- which is pretty good when you consider this may be the only way some of the impoverished Brazilians might ever get to see America.

And, really, Carnival is so much more reflective of multi-cultural south Florida's youthful, fun-loving, sensuous lifestyle. With just a little effort this could be the most famous exciting parade in north America if not the world with randy earthlings from all over racing to get to Miami to spend their money to cop a seat along the parade route and to participate in other "official" events we're sure the Chamber of Commerce, the county, the city, and the private sector will dream up.

MVB says, let's embrace the girl from Ipanema and never let her go (especially the one in the picture).

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Finding Your Voice By Taking It

When corrupt and inept politicians and bureaucrats forfeit the rights of its citizens to basic housing through mismanagement, indifference, and greed, it is not uncommon to see people take matters into their own hands. Right now a classic text book example of that is going on in Liberty City, the oft forgotten burg of the black and voiceless. Umoja Village, a shantytown by any other name, is rising on an acre of public land at NW 62nd Street and 17th Ave. Ten years earlier, the City of Miami tore down a derelict apartment building and, from looking at the empty lot, forgot to build a new one for the people who live there. If you live in that community, this is the way of the world as you know it. It's something to shrug your shoulders over but nothing to lose sleep over.

Unless you're Max Rameau, activist-at-large. Protected by Pottinger v. City of Miami, a law that prohibits police from arresting homeless people trying to to stay alive on public property when no other space is available, Rameau not only seized the day he also seized the land on October 23rd.

Cool. MVB wishes him and his village people good luck. "Umoja" is Swahili for "unity." We thought it was "irony," since the village is there because local government screwed its poorest citizens. Max, thanks for sticking it to the man for the rest of us. We're sure city and county government didn't expect you to stay this long. You recently celebrated what you call on your website "Thankstaking" and what the rest of us call "Thanksgiving." Happy Thankstaking!

Max, as an aside from the publisher, although my street sig might be O.W.G for "Old White Guy," I hope you might consider that you'll get more of anything with honey than vinegar. Try cutting back on the negative, alienating, angry crap on your website and in your speeches. You already have our sympathy but getting our support in money and in-kind donations is going to take a kinder, gentler approach because, to be honest with you, blaming America and the white man for your troubles won't help your cause one iota when "the man" inevitably comes for you and the villagers in the middle of the night. Hopefully that won't happen. Hopefully they can build public housing quick enough to get you and the villagers a decent place to live. Realistically, that won't happen anytime soon so be prepared. Make sure your media contacts are stored in your cell phone so they can be there when the shit hits the fan. Maybe just knowing you'll phone in the media should the powers-that-be try to bulldoze the village will be enough for them to leave you alone. Simply put, Max, as long as you and your village remain a black eye on the new face of Miami rising downtown with each new chi chi condo only the wealthiest can afford, one way or another, your days are numbered because "they" will find a way around the law to make you and everything you stand for go away.

UpDate (11/30): Today the Miami Herald ran a story on Umoja Village noting that it now has reached a full capacity of 40 residents and has had to turn away 10 people. Miami City Manager Pedro Hernandez visited the community on Wednesday and told Rameau that they share the same objectives, finding affordable housing.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

How to Turn MIA into a Multi-Billion Dollar Turkey Vulture Landing Strip

Spend money. Lots of it. $6.2 billion worth of it. Spend so much with no end in sight that you get Moody's Investors Service to downgrade MIA bonds. Spend so much a consultant recommends an independent review of the airport's building plans because of a $1 billion overrun. Spend so much airlines are driven away to Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport where the cost of doing business is cheaper.

Right now, MIA is one of the most expensive airports in the US with per passenger charges to airlines more than double the average. When Moody's heard that another $1 billion was going to be requested from the county commission, they opined that if more money is thrown into the money pit, "airline costs will rise significantly enough to potentially erode future traffic and revenue."

Talk about irony. This is the same kind of thing predicted for the $1.2 billion Port of Miami tunnel should it get built. Shippers and truckers will be hit with fees that will drive them to Port Everglades in Broward county. This kind of talk would make most sober individuals pause-- unless, of course, you were the mastermind behind the port tunnel. Before becoming Miami-Dade Aviation Director, Jose Abreu was Secretary of the Florida Department of Transportation. His response to cost overruns at MIA is to "move forward...on the North Terminal. We're still working on the 'Can we afford it?' part."

And you wonder why our cost of living keeps going up? It's because of bureaucrats and technocrats who don't see dollar signs, only numbers, who aren't held accountable with fines or imprisonment when they lose control of the reins. Instead, the worst that might happen to them is that they would get fired with a "golden parachute" to protect their incompetent asses.

This foreseen exodus to Broward is already happening with your average Dade resident. Many have been driving northward to Ft. Lauderdale for years to fly in and out of south Florida because of significantly cheaper flights.

In the end, after spending billions and billions of dollars, Dade may find it no longer has any commercial air or seaport user problems not because of its bank breaking building programs but because it doesn't have any users-- they've all moved their base of operations to Broward. I'm sure those county commisisoners are sitting back watching this county dig itself into a hole that it can't climb out of, knowing if they remain patient long enough, increased commerce will naturally find its way to less expensive Broward with little effort on their part.

MVB urges the Miami-Dade County commission to put an end to the madness when they are asked to vote on the requested extra billion MIA dollars next year. Enough is enough. Let Abreu and his crew find other ways to "make ends meet," a phrase we're sure he has never heard up until now. According to the Miami Herald, he's been forced to explore cost cutting alternatives that range from no longer watering the plants at the airport to rock mining at the decommissioned Opa-Locka West airport. According to the "experts," selling our rocks should bring in between $200 million to $400 million over ten years.

We are reminded of the words of Sir Manny Mojito, King of Little H, that "Miami is such a silly place," where the solution to digging us out of a hole in the ground is to dig yet another. And where the only thing our new state-of-the-art airport may be able to attract after spending billions and billions of dollars are those big, ugly turkey vultures from Hinkley, Ohio that have come south for the winter looking for empty skies unhindered with air traffic so they can circle lazily, waiting patiently like the Broward county commissioners, for MIA to die before swooping down to dine on obscenely expensive citizen-fed carrion.

UpDate (5/15/08): Today the Miami Dade County Commision will vote on whether or not to increase funding the North Terminal by another $64.3 million in order to finish the baggage handling system ($43.5 million) and the automated people mover ($20.8 million). How can they say no? And so it goes.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Strategic Fat Command: Miami Connection Exclusive Report

By chance after more than a few drinks over a recent curry buffet dinner at Churchill's Pub, Verticus Erectus, publisher of this digital rag, discovered a Miami connection between the proliferation of US fast food chains around the world and our government. As it turned out, the man Erectus was eating and drinking with at the bar that night was more than just your ordinary drunken four star general. In fact, General "Obie" Wanmofries, was the head of a secret government agency called the Strategic Fat Command (SFC) which operates out of the US Southern Command (SouthCom) based in Doral. Although SouthCom officially is concerned with US military operations in South America and the Caribbean, SFC, according to General Wanmofries is based at SouthCom because of Burger King. Once Erectus knew he was onto something big, he turned on his secret micro-tape recorder he carries with him at all times for just these kinds of moments. What follows is the exact conversation, unexcised for human consumption.

MVB: So General Wanmofries, mind--
GW: Call me "Obie."
MVB: "Obie?"
GW: Yeah, it's short for Obese.
MVB: Okay, ...Obie. MindifIrecordthisconversation?
GW: What?
MVB: Okay,wannanotherdrink?
GW: Sure.
MVB (to the lovely Brit barmaid): Alex, we'll have another round. So, Obie, what's with the SFC?
GW: We're out to subdue the world one fast food restaurant at a time. You know, we just opened a KFC in freaking Hanoi, can you believe that? We may have lost that war, but we'll get 'em in the end with clogged arteries and heart attacks. Hmm, don't you just love the deviousness of this plan?
MVB (to Alex as she arrives with the drinks): Thanks, Alex. Love your bracelet (its a black leather wrap with 4" chrome spikes).
Alex: Thanks, dearie. It keeps the creeps from touching my tats (exits).
GW: Her what?
MVB: Her tattoos. It's devious, alright, General, but you're going to have to wait a long time to see any results.
GW (hosting his glass): Salute.
MVB: Salute.
GW: I double-dog guarantee you it won't take no goldarn 30-years.
MVB: You mean since the end of the war?
GW: Damn right. Once they get a taste of that greasy chicken shit and them Whoppers, we'll have them right where we want 'em.
MVB: And where's that?
GW: Hooked on US fast foods, man! Forget "Fast Food Nation," it's a "Fast Food World!" We're growing a whole new generation of customers who will fuel the growth of our US based fast food corporations while at the same time we're killing off the enemy. Don't you just love it?
MVB: It's devious alright. So you still consider North Vietnam the enemy?
GW: Commie bastards.
MVB: How 'bout China?
GW: Double commie bastards. We're hitting them from two fronts: fast foods and cigarettes. One way or the other, they'll either eat themselves to death or smoke themselves to death.
MVB: How 'bout the Arab world?
GW: We got that covered too.
MVB: It must be a little frustrating though when the feds want to reduce trans fats and--
GW: Don't say those words in front of me! They haven't been in my vocabulary since I started working for Burger King.
MVB: "Burger King?"
GW: 30-years at their Miami headquarters.
MVB: Wow.
GW: Yeah, I was in charge of developing their menus.
MVB: So, how did you end up heading up the SFC?
GW: I got recruited. At first I didn't want to leave my cushy job at BK or leave Miami. I don't know, maybe they were desperate or something, but I convinced them working with my old company would have its benefits so they allowed me to run the operation from SouthCom. When they offered to make me a general, how could I say no?
MVB: What were you before?
GW: Nothing. I never was in the military. Had to learn how to salute and everything. (With that, he lifted his glass) Salute!
MVB: Salute!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Calatrava Miami?

MVB doesn't know how it was back in ancient Athens 2,500 years ago when they were building the Parthenon, whether or not the citizens had any input in the design, but for what it's worth, as citizens of Miami, we're suggesting that we go for the "big one" when erecting the next building on the Miami Dade College Wolfson Campus in downtown Miami.

In a rare example of the public sector using a visionary approach in solving a problem, the college recently ran a full page color ad on the back of the Miami Herald's Business Monday tabloid looking for partners to develop "one of the last parcels of undeveloped land on Biscayne Boulevard" which they own. Realizing they need another 250,000 s.f. for an Arts and Humanities Center, they decided it would be a win-win situation for private developers to build the structure in exchange for "air rights."

It's amazing that this property is still available. Just south of the Freedom Tower and the American Airlines Arena, Lot 1 (see map) hopefully will attract an equally visionary deep pockets developer to take them up on the offer with a landmark design that mixes office and living space with the college's needs.

Hopefully, too, the building won't be anything subtle. As a "beacon" to those around the world searching for an education, it should stand out from the crowd-- and not just the buildings around it, but also all the others in all the cities around the globe that claim and will claim to have the tallest buildings. Miami should raise the bar high enough that we, as proud citizens of south Florida, can claim bragging rights that will last at least a century (2,500 years might be asking too much).

To perk the digital ether, we've Photoshopped Santiago Calatrava's proposed world's tallest Chicago tower onto the Miami Dade college site. We think it looks pretty good there. Actually, Calatrava's design would look good anywhere-- especially next to an actual Miami proposal for the world's tallest condos called Empire World Towers.

Hopefully seeing this MVB proposal will start people thinking about the really big picture that speaks to the intangible aspects of the human heart with an architecture that lifts the spirit and sparks the imagination like the Parthenon has done for mankind all these years.

Perhaps a Pericles, the visionary Athenian politician who gave the world the Parthenon, will rise above the pettiness of local politics and take a stand for bold vision by simply requiring that the design will be this new millennium's Parthenon.

Miami is in a unique place in time that probably won't come around for another hundred years before the towers that are being built today are torn down and replaced with newer models. We should leap at this opportunity to snare the skyscraper title. In fact, we should look at it as our civic duty-- just like the ancient Athenians did. Let's make Biscayne Boulevard the "Boulevard of the Giants."

You can read more regarding this proposed partnership on the college's web site.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Omni Center = International Toy Center

Looks like Manhattan based Argent Ventures wants to resuscitate the Omni Mall. Well, at least the south end. It intends to create three floors of offices totaling 240,000 square feet. Cost for the redo: $30 million, a figure they feel is well worth spending even though they only see the remodeling job remaining "untouched for at least 12 years."

It looks like Argent has money to burn, too. In 2005, it spent $100 million to buy out its partner and purchase the Radisson Hotel which is part of the three-block property. Long term plans call for razing the site, carving two streets through the property and building six condo towers starting at the northern end of the megaparcel.

In the meantime, MVB's "Flashlight Forum" through an email today humbly suggests they contact the International Toy Center in Manhattan and see if they can induce it to move in. Before this blog ever saw the light of a pixel, we have been advocating exactly this (see here). When it looked like Argent was going to take the Omni property into another direction, we suggested our community leaders look at 600 Brickell as a possible location. Either one works for us as long as it brings global companies to south Florida.

Athalie Range Remembered

Athalie Range is gone but not forgotten. Having passed at age 91 yesterday, Ms. Range left an enduring legacy of public service. Since we grew up here, I can attest that Ms. Range was the pioneer for civil rights in this community. She was working for change here two years before anyone had heard of Martin Luther King. That 1953 project to rectify conditions at her kid's elementary school in Liberty City set her on a path of social reform that carried itself even as far as just ten days ago where she presided at a cultural arts foundation fundrasier that bears her name. We can also say, that without a doubt, she was the most ethical politician this community has seen in the last fifty-years.

Her firsts include:
  • First African-American on Miami's City Commission
  • First black--and woman-- to serve in a high-ranking state government post as director of the Department of Community Affairs.
You can thank her for MetroRail. In a close election, she was instrumental in getting her constituents to vote in favor of the controversial referendum that was being criticised for its expense.

When Verticus, who was living in North Miami at the time, looked south and saw huge columns of smoke rising off of 79th street during the 1980 riots, Ms. Range was bravely walking the streets where people were being murdered left-and-right, talking to anyone who would listen in order to quell the riots.

Probably her greatest legacy was the way she approached the world: tirelessly, never giving up despite adversity to right wrongs and to give a voice to the voiceless. Public figures like her are rare and even rarer here.

Thanks, Ms. Range, for staying the course over all those years. If it hadn't been for you, we fear our communtiy would be in much worse shape and its government less than salvageable.

Pepe "Two Poop"

Miami Dade County Commissioner Jose "Pepe" Diaz wants to eliminate curb side recycling and rose to the "Top O' the Heap" at Club Poop when he referred to the county's recycling efforts as "spending millions and millions on a feel-good."

Whoe, now those are fighting words, right up there with "let them eat cake." It's amazing how out of touch Diaz is with the masses, it's as if he missed the whole recycling movement of the 70's and today's rush to "Save the Planet." With guys like him running governments, global warming really is just around the corner.

MVB turned to Nokosee Osceola, our staff renegade Miccosukee and advocate of returning south Florida to its rightful owners, the Miccosukees, to get his reaction. "We have a name for people like that," he said as he gazed out over the Miccosukee Gaming Resort and Country Club's parking lot through the undulating mirage of the Everglades in the distance. "It's Chitfobraeens."

"Chitfobraeens?" we asked.

"Loosely translated, his Indian name is 'Pepe Two Poop'."

"'Pepe Two Poop'?"

"Si. Because he's joined Commissioners Seijas and Souto as the only commisioners to have earned two Poopy Head hats in Club Poop."


"My mother is Cuban. She met my dad at Hialeah High."

"Is that blood on your knife?"


"Anyone we know?"

"No, Kemasabe."

"What's with the loincloth?"

"For keeping knife clean. And picking up chicks."

"'Picking up chicks'?"

"It's a chick magnet. You should see me work the room at Prive."

"He's kidding," the young woman standing next to him said. "He's never been in a nightclub in his life."

"And you're...?"

"His girlfriend."

"Your name?"

"I can't tell you. I'm on the run with the renegade."

"'On the run'? What'd you do now, Nokosee?"

"Nothing. I'm being framed by developers."

At that point, sirens were heard in the distance and the two excused themselves by hopping on the back of their Indian and racing away in a slip-sliding trail of smoke and burned rubber across the parking lot.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Cool Things Made in Miami: First Pneumatic Vacuum Elevator

If you want to live like the Jetsons, you've got to look to Miami to buy the first pneumatic vacuum elevator in the world. Pneumatic Vacuum Elevators LLC, located in south Miami, can put one of these futuristic babies in your home for as little as $20,000. Because it doesn't need any excavated space, it can be installed in existing homes in the stairwell. If you move, you can take it with you. Other selling points:
  • Two /Three stops for residential and special commercial usage.
  • 2-3 hour installation.
  • No excavation, no hoist way, no costly infrastructures.
  • No energy consumption during descent and low when ascending with 110 Volt, or if required 220 Volt turbines.
  • Panoramic 360º visibility.
  • Highest safety during power outages and freefall.
  • Lowest maintenance with no lubrication required.
Installing one of these pneumatic elevators in your home has its practical reasons, of course, especially when climbing up and down stairs gets to be a little too much. But we like it because of its creative, fun solution to solving a problem and its intangible "cool" factor.

Way to go, Pneumatic Vacuum Elevators LLC!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Miami Aerial Photos from a Model Airplane

James Good is on to something. He's the only guy using a model airplane to take some amazing aerial photos of Miami. The Miami Herald, local cities and the county ought to hire him to get aerial photos on the cheap-- hell, the guy even gets around in a Mini for crise sakes. No need to hire at considerable expense a helicopter or an airplane pilot to give people a different slant on a story. How 'bout a bird's eye view of the Coconut Grove Arts Festival? Or the next music bash in Bicentennial Park? Or a below the minimum FAA height restriction view of the latest traffic jam brought on when they shut down Biscayne Blvd for some Carnival Center shindig? Heck, his aerial pics would be a unique addition to a wedding album. How 'bout a whole high school graduation photo, maybe spelling out the year with their bodies on the school's phys ed field? We could go on and on, but the truth is, this Miamian has made aerial photography affordable for the masses. You can see more of his work and contact him at Virtual Aerodrome.