Monday, July 30, 2007

MVB's Big Idea to Curb Illegal Immigration & Reduce the Cost of Living: Bring back the Chain Gang

Not very PC of us, but it seems to make a lot of sense: Put the nearly 90,000 Florida prisoners to work in the fields harvesting our crops. Farmers won't have to fear penalties for hiring undocumented aliens and will save money on the harvest-- passing along the savings to the consumer. Once word gets out to the third world that you can't get jobs in Florida because the state's prisoners have pretty much taken them, the problems faced with undocumented aliens will diminish-- and if they don't, at least the cost of living will fall. To make it fall even further: dissolve the FDOT maintenance division and get prisoners to do the job (like they once use to).

Yes, we know these are not revolutionary ideas and that it's been done before (and suspect it disappeared over time because of political correctness and economics) but times have changed. If putting prisoners to work in our fields and roads will reduce the cost of living in Florida, we say go for it.

By the way, the Florida Department of Corrections has a great website and we encourage you to check it out. We found it informative and entertaining. Among other things, you will learn that it costs Florida taxpayers $52.06 a day to house and feed an inmate (or $1.7 billion a year for all of them). Under FAQ's it has a "Death Row Roster" which lists names, crimes, etc. As of July 30th, Florida has 381 men (no women) on death row. Angel Diaz was the last one executed (12/13/06) after spending nearly 21-years on death row. Aileen Wuornos, was the last woman executed (10/9/02). Her movie Monster starring Charlize Theron came out the following year. You can also plug in and keep track of prisoners which is a pretty neat tool-- especially if you are a victim of a crime. From experience, we know that you can never assume after sentencing a prisoner actually goes to jail. Verticvs' ex was mugged at the front door of their home near Aventura. The mugger was later arrested and sentenced on another crime. They assumed he went to jail. Years later, they decided to check up on the bad boy from Bunch Park. As it turned out, he never showed up to go to jail and was basically "at large" which was alarming since he had left a threatening message on their answering machine before his trial.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Monocle Man on Drunken Astronauts, Blacks on the run, Umoja Village, and More

WARNING: First off, anyone wearing a monocle today should be viewed with suspicion. This gentleman, who wishes to remain anonymous as is a blogger's wont, is not the kind of guy you'd invite to a party. If his 1,000 yard stare doesn't quickly put your shindig into an irreversible slide toward downersville, his jaded, dyspeptic personality soon will. So, dear reader, read his words with caution and a mojito, MVB's drink of choice, in hand.
  • Thank God political correctness won't be touching the astronaut corp. NASA won't condemn the use of alcohol before space flight. These are America's bravest men and women and if a few feel like getting plastered before boarding a rocket that's been known to explode, who can blame them? Hell, I'm surprised they're not shooting up and dropping tabs of acid before each launch. That shuttle rocket is one scary beast.
  • The Miami Herald reports that middle-class blacks are fleeing Miami-Dade county. This ''brain drain" of middle-class blacks are reportedly leaving "because they're anxious over job prospects, poor schools and a lack of affordable housing." This study was directed only at middle-class black Americans. A recent census report also shows 1-in-4 African Americans are skipping town. I suspect if they had looked at white middle-class Americans it would reveal pretty much the same thing. Miami-Dade is getting too expensive for the middle-class, no matter what color you're looking at.
  • If the Umoja Village activists can persuade the city of Miami to give them land to develop low income housing, I predict they will do a better job of it than the city and the county combined. Carrfour Supportive Housing, winner of our February 14th MVB Big Idea Award has agreed to partner with Umoja Village but everyone's least loved lobbyist Ron Book, chairman of the county's homeless trust (is this not a conflict of interest?) has thrown a monkey wrench into the proceedings because he is against "giving any deal to any one source to the exclusion of all others without even hearing ideas from others.'' Gee, isn't that the approach he usually takes behind the scenes?

UpDate (8/1): Book wins, Umoja Village and Carrfour Supportive Housing loses as city of Miami commissioners vote not to give the land to the homeless activists. Instead the city will put it out to bid.

Meet the new kid on the block: the Miami Professional Educators Association. They've come ready to rumble.

MVB first learned of high school chemistry teacher Shawn Beightol when he was unceremoniously and ham handily demoted to the bus depot by the Miami-Dade county school board for having the temerity of using a school computer to send out emails that were "political in nature." At that time he was the Krop High school steward representing the United Teachers of Dade, the official union representing over 20,000 teachers. He was also running for the office of the president of the union. One day when he showed up for work, school security met him in the teacher's parking lot and blocked him from entering the building. His punishment included banishment to the school bus maintenance depot where he basically did nothing for 17-days before being allowed to return to his classroom. Although we have corresponded through emails, we haven't met Mr. Beightol but our gut feeling is he's exactly what the teachers need to fight for their right to make enough money to live and work in Miami-Dade county. Right now, with the rising cost of living and the dearth of affordable housing, it is nearly impossible for current teachers to hang on and equally difficult to recruit new teachers. Teachers need more money and respect and we believe Mr. Beightol is the indefatigable bulldog that will make that happen.

Case in point, he is forming the Miami Professional Educators Association. It will be a non-profit organization setup "not to compete with UTD but (to act) as an active group of educators, many within the UTD, who seek to serve as a catalyst for change both in the school system and by working within our bargaining agent, the UTD to produce the best working conditions for our educators and support staff." The next meeting for this fledgling group will be August 14th at 7:30PM at the Denny's in Miami Lakes (just north of 826 on 67th Ave).

I was given permission to post the following email he sent out to his fellow teachers. I think many of MVB's faithful readers, i.e., Miami's elite intelligentsia, may find it eye-opening:

We believe the best working conditions, compensation, and benefits will attract the best and professional workforce available, thus delivering on the promise of public education, a true "world class education," as MDCPS has advertised, to Miami's children and future. Since under Florida law, a bargaining agent is necessary to formally secure these conditions and protect them via our contract, it is MPEA's aim to facilitate UTD's work from within it's organization. However, we recognize that some individuals will not join UTD for a variety of reasons and still have much value and benefit to share in the process of educational reform and should be provided with an avenue to do so. We hope that by being an active, proactive, aggressive tool for reform, we might provide a face for UTD that for decades has been missing.

This Wednesday, August 1, two issues may arise that MPEA would like to provide input: H5 - Ingram's proposal to award (Superintendent) Crew his bonus (which was essentially denied last month by the board's inconclusive split vote) based on Crew's quantification of his objectives being reached as 63%. This amounts to a bonus of over $40,000. The sum of Crew's bonus would take a teacher with a masters degree 13 years to reach under the NEW contract. Many feel that a bonus of this amount for what would amount to a "D" in class is excessive. Others debated that part of the assessment involved the FCAT and therefore was debatable. Regardless, debate was unanimous in the conclusion that until Crew delivers a living wage that recognizes financially his professional educators (who are delivering the product that brings him accolades from such places as the Broad Foundation) and allows his support staff to live with a measure of dignity (the current contract amounts to servitude for them), his bonus should be foregone. We will speak publicly in opposition to his raise.

E-106 - Wi-Fi - a board item addressing MDCPS' participation in a county-wide free wi-fi service will be discussed. At issue are whether MDCPS will "go it alone" and develop it's own wi-fi infrastructure at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars (possible board conflict of interest exists here with board member Evelyn Greer who is a director of a wireless telecom group, Fusion - see below) OR whether we will lease some of MDCPS bandwidth to the county - supposedly an absolute necessity for the county plan - which then puts board member Ana Rivas Logan in a possible "iffy" situation since she serves on the task force of the county's wi-fi program and on the school board which controls the lucrative bandwidth needed by the county... hmmm...more research and info needed.

Read more here: and and a very critical view here:

Please let me know by Monday if you'd like to join me at the board meeting to speak to these items. Send me your phone number and I can coordinate the speakers forms by Monday noon.

We discussed property tax measures and as a group (of both Dems and Republicans) decided that it might be a good idea to shoot down the current tax relief proposal which does too little for locals and has too many loopholes for out of town investor owners. It is believed that Marco Rubio has a backup plan that will be 100% relief for local homestead property owners by utilizing a 2 cent sales tax. The debate that this will be excessive on the poor and keep them further from owning was met by the point that current home prices already are WAY too far out of reach for the poor and that to do nothing will not only keep the poor from getting homes, it will drive the middle class closer to homelessness. So the conclusion in this (ONGOING) discussion was that to vote for the current proposal or to do nothing not only does NOTHING for the poor, but it pushes the middle class closer to extinction in Miami-Dade. So, we will lean toward Rubio's replacement bill with admission that this is an ongoing discussion.

We are actively seeking qualified interested parties to back/support School Board Elections in the Fall of 2008. We identified the following candidates as either being replaceable because of their lack of educator support, or in the case of Ingram, his health:
  • Martin Karp - a former teacher, has turned into a big disappointment for those of us who backed him. He has proven to be too malleable and weak, has not advanced an educator's agenda as was hoped from his campaign talk. He seems to be afraid of both Crew and Greer to be of any good to educators and thus the community. Sided with Crew and Greer during the famous "censorship" meeting in which on-air board broadcasting and open-mike were threatened to be shut down or dramatically modified in a way that would hurt educators need for publicity.
  • De la Portilla - 2nd go around on school board, wasn't voted back in last time, got invited to replace Bolanos this time, like Karp has been pro-Crew and Greer to the point of antagonism. Walked off dais during a Doral vote on school boundaries that should have had his decisive leadership. Was the major mouthpiece in siding with censorship agenda at the "censorship" meeting.
  • Ingram - is sick. If he is unable to run, we hope to work with him identifying an educator ally for a friendly passing of the baton.
  • Greer - ever get an email from her or a verbal response? 'nuff said. You teachers should be grateful for what you get...yeah, right. Maybe if our family controlled a low cost housing corporation while the school board was deciding on developing its land for low cost housing for teachers (why not just fix our salaries so we don't qualify as government aid recipients?!) or if we held major stock in a telecom company while voting on bidding out telecom contracts...conflict of interest anyone?
  • A couple of members may join together to pass out flyers at the New Teachers Orientation to recruit membership by sharing about our aggressive campaigns to reform public education by attracting and retaining professionals via professional and dignified contracts. Date is August 9th. Let me know if you'd like to assist.
  • We are currently addressing the issue of the growing feeling that membership is losing control of the renewed "member-driven UTD."

Info on Greer's telecom company and involvement can be found here.

Evelyn L Greer, Director at Fusion Telecommunications International, Incorporated, New York, New York. TECHNOLOGY / WIRELESS COMMUNICATIONS. Director since January 1999. Evelyn Langlieb Greer, 56. Director. Ms. Greer has served as a director since January 1999. Ms. Greer is the President of Greer Properties, Inc., a Florida-based real estate development company founded in 1976. She is also a partner in the law firm of Hogan, Greer & Shapiro, P.A. Ms. Greer has been a director of City National Bank of Florida, N.A. since 2000, a member of the Board of Trustees of Barnard College since 1994 and is Vice Chair of the Columbia Law School Board of Visitors. Since 1996, Ms. Greer has served as the elected Mayor of the Village of Pinecrest, Florida. And from EVELYN GREER Declared Holdings Relationship/Company Reported Shares Value Director Fusion Telecomm Intl IncRoster, Transactions 101,715 shares as of 7/26/2007: $38,651.69.

As you can see from the email, there is a lot going on behind the scenes. We hope Mr. Beightol won't be standing alone before the School Board on Wednesday, August 1st. We hope that he will be surrounded by a large group of in-your-face activist teachers who will keep putting the pressure on for better salaries and working conditions. No matter what our skyline looks like or whether or not we have a half billion dollar performing arts center, if the county can't retain and recruit good teachers, it won't mean a thing. A good public educational system is the foundation and magnet for the creation of new jobs and businesses that rely on college educated professionals. Without good schools which are built on good teachers happy with their salaries, nothing will change for the better here. In our humble opinion, Mr. Beightol's Miami Professional Educators Association is just the kind of thing the school system needs to kick start itself into putting teachers first.

UpDate (8/2): Don't know how many stood with Mr. Beightol yesterday in front of the school board, but he was quoted in today's Miami Herald. When it came up to grant Crew his bonus, Beightol said this to the superintendent: ''Lead by example and turn down your increase until you can use your creativity to give us all an increase.'' It appears no one was listening because the school board passed a motion 5-4 to give Crew a $41,000 bonus. By 2010, Crew's contracted salary will reach $360,000 with potential bonuses up to $80,000. Considering that the "performance gap between black and white students widened this year, and the number of F schools increased from five to 26" under his leadership, we can only think that somehow the board has confused the increasing number of F schools as a good thing. Why else would they give the man the bonus?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Next Round of Miami 21 Public Meetings Schedule

The City of Miami's Planning Department, in conjunction with urban planning consultants Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company (DPZ), will host a series of public meetings to provide general information about Miami 21 and answer questions about the project and how it will relate to your neighborhood.

Tuesday, August 7
West End Park
250 S.W. 60th Avenue
6:30 - 8:30 p.m.

Thursday, August 9
Police Benevolent Association
2300 N.W. 14th Street
6:00 - 8:00 p.m.

Wednesday, August 15
Curtis Park
1901 N.W. 24th Ave.
6:00 - 8:00 p.m.

Thursday, August 16
Belafonte Tacolcy Center
6161 N.W. 9th Avenue
6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
Model City

Monday, August 20
St. Michael
2987 WestFlagler Street
6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
West Flagler

Tuesday, August 21
Disabilities Center
4560 N.W. 4th Terrace
6:00 - 8:00 p.m.

Thursday, August 23
Orange Bowl
1501 N.W. 3rd Street
6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
Little Havana

Monday, August 27
Citrus Grove Elementary
2121 N.W. 5th Street
6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
Little Havana

Tuesday, August 28
Frankie S. Rolle Center
3750 S. Dixie Highway
6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
S.W. Coconut Grove

Wednesday, August 29
Hadley Park
1350 N.W. 50th Street
6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
Model City

Thursday, August 30
Shenandoah Park
1800 S.W. 21st Ave.
6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
Coral Way

Tuesday, September 4
Coral Way Elementary
1950 S.W. 13th Ave.
6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
Coral Way

Wednesday, September 5
LaSalle High School
3601 S. Miami Ave.
6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
N.E. Coconut Grove

Miami 21 is a complete re-write of the City's zoning code regulations. Zoning regulations control the physical development of land and the kinds of uses (for example: residential, commercial, etc.) allowed within each property. Miami 21 is a long-term plan to preserve and improve the quality-of-life of our City and our residents. Miami 21 focuses on a more improved mix of housing, commercial and retail uses, creates transit and pedestrian oriented communities, and preserves open space, which are referred to as "smart-growth."

Friday, July 20, 2007

MVB True Believers Club

Eduardo "Eddie" Kacee, aka "Eddiekacee," is MVB's resident psychic. Last night while staff was enjoying their mojitos, the "Channel Master," as he is affectionately called around the office, went into one of his trademark trances in mid-slurp. In a disembodied voice that wavered between macho baritone TV announcer Spanish and that of a "leetle girl" (his description in English), he revealed:
  • The MVB staff should keep praying to the Elita Loresca shrine. When asked what he meant, he replied in a teasing voice that sounded like the "Storm Goddess" on steroids: "I demands your full attention and devotion if you vant to leev. And next time, please leave more of dat Dunkin' Donut summertime treat, da key lime dream donut, on da altar."
  • He then began to sing, "I see bones, I see gizzards and bones, I see 14-paper clips, I see bones" for no apparent reason. Verticvs, being the oldest of the MVB staff explained that the Channel Master must have gotten his "channels crossed" because those were the lyrics to an old Alan Sherman song. "Alan Sherman?" we asked. "The guy had a hit in the early 60's called 'Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah'. 'I See Bones' was on the album, 'My Son The Nut'." That's when Eddiekacee started singing that song and Verticvs joined in. It was one of those moments and we'd be lying if we didn't tell you it creeped us out-- especially when we found ourselves joining in on the refrain.
  • Following the musical interlude, Eddiekacee's second prediction of the night was this: Miami would have a downtown baseball stadium and it would be called the...Miami Megaplex. To say we weren't surprised would be an understatement. We turned to Verticvs. He offered a semetic shrug and said, "What can I tell ya? You don't have to be a fucking clarivoiant to see that one comin'."
  • His final predictions came rushing out: a monorail would connect Miami to Miami Beach, a plague would wipe out all nimbys, politicians would "find God," and the lions at MetroZoo would lie down with the sheep. Father Al asked, " In the Biblical sense? You know, like in fornication?" "No, you sick puppy," Eddiekacee said in his trance. "Get your head out of the Old Testament, Father Al. I'm talkin' New Testament stuff here. Like lyin' down in peace." At that point Eddiekacee's eyes started to flicker. "Hold it, boys, I've got another one coming in." He paused long enough to swallow what was left of his mojito (which was pretty amazing considering he was in a trance). "Verticvs!" he snapped. Verticvs jumped. "Right here, Channel Master." "You will form a club for...True Believers." "True Believers?" "True Believers. It will be for all of those who have seen the light...that Miami (and sometimes the Beaches) is a city in and of the future. Its destiny shines bright despite its visionless leaders and inordinate amount of nimbys living in the community. But not to worry, the plague will take care of the nimbys and God will touch the souls of our elected officials-- especially the Cuban souls who are twice as likely to cross themselves and beg forgiveness and change their ways once they see the first plague." "First plague?" we asked.
Suddenly, Eddiekacee's eyes opened and, without missing a beat, turned to Verticvs and said, "Now pass me a mojito." Unfortunately for us, he couldn't elaborate on the impending plague situation because he never remembers anything from a trance.

Shag or Shaq? Find out if MVB is right for you!

People who like this blog will also like Shag*. If you don't know who Shag is and wonder whether or not to like this blog, please play the short introductory video to the artist and his fans. If you can't see yourself standing in line for his autograph you probably don't revel in retro and all things groovy. If this is your first time at MVB and feel at home, well, welcome because you are truly worthy.
*Not to be confused with Shaq who is a groovy dude in his own right and one of Miami's brightest (and tallest) treasures.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Take the MVB BayLink monorail between Miami and Miami Beach solution poll!

Found this on the Net and haven't a clue what it's all about because it's been disconnected from its original series of posts? Click here for info and then please come back and vote.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Budget Boy: A BayLink monorail could be had for $20 million-a-mile (Give or take a million)

According to Miami-Dade County's Budget Boy, estimated costs for building a monorail link between Miami and Miami Beach is $20 million-per-mile. Now some might question this figure considering Budget Boy works for a government famous for cost overruns ranging from the half billion dollar Carnival Center for the Performing Arts to MIA, but at least his estimation won't cost taxpayers a multi-million dollar consultancy fee since it's free-- try to get your money back from a consultant who under estimated costs-- which they invariably do-- and this begins to look like a pretty good deal. According to Budget Boy, his numbers are the result of factoring in:
  • The fact that 95% of the BayLink monorail is built on utility-free space. Relocation of buried sewer, water, gas, and electric lines are not a factor-- where most traditional construction costs are accrued. The MVB BayLink plan calls for attaching the monorail to the bridge from Miami to Watson Island and then running it at grade (no need for elevated concrete runways) along MacArthur Causeway to the Beach. The run becomes elevated at Terminal Island. When it meets the beach, it makes a hard left and runs north and south on the sand all the way to 17th or 19th Street with its northern terminus at the Convention Center with stops at "5th West," "5th East/Beach." "Lincoln Road/Beach," and, of course, the Convention Center and the Live Nation Theatre.
  • The Miami run will be the most expensive since it will be built on land with existing utilities-- but it affords connections to Carnival Center, the Miami Megaplex ("The Grand Central Station of the American Pastime" with MetroRail and FEC commuter rail connections), American Airlines Arena, and the Museum Park MetroMover station.

With these kind of figures, the $200 million the City of Miami wants to throw at an antiquated trolley line could pay for ten miles of track!


Sunday, July 15, 2007

Miami Beach: AKA Nimbyville

Now that 30 Miami Beach civic organizations have banded together into a unified force, it appears that any futuristic vision of connecting Miami to Miami Beach with a Disney-style monorail will only occur with the ingestion of large amounts of hallucinogens. Some may say that MVB's plan was conceived on them anyway but after reading The SunPost's story about their efforts to come together to affect "the most important (election) in recent Miami Beach history (which will) determine what the city looks like for the next 25 years," it looks entirely hopeless as "the 30" gangup against change.

Why, you may ask?
  1. Because most Beach activists can't see beyond the monorail's concrete which they equate with "development." They can't see that it negates tearing up 95% of the streets because most of it runs on beach sand. Or that it will remove cars from the roads including all light rail and trolley car concepts which share and congest traffic lanes by their mere presence. If you would like to see our solution, please click here, here, and here.
  2. It has been determined that a Miami Beach election can be won on as little as a thousand votes. The new Beach 500, a political action committee, has been formed to get 1,000 people to sign an oath promising to vote only for the committee's chosen few.
  3. Visionaries with a sense of the future aren't running. The ones that are running are already towing the line when it comes to "development," treating it as a pejorative when in reality it's just another word for "change" which can be good or bad and is, in fact, inevitable.
  4. The current antiquated "default" BayLink solution is a result of a second vote forced onto Miami Beach residents. When Miami Beach Mayor David Dermer didn't like the outcome of the first county-wide vote in 2002 where its citizens voted to tax themselves a half-cent on sales for mass transit projects including some form of Baylink, he led the commission in calling for another vote on the subject. The fear of living through years and years of torn up streets seemed in the end only to be his fear because again, Miami Beach said bring it on. Only this time, BayLink has been diluted of its visionary grandeur and, in fact, is everything Dermer dreamed it would be: a fixed-rail trolley car system with overhead electrical wires that will require streets to be torn up for years and years to come.

How sad. What could have been a project that was inspiring, aesthetically pleasing, and removed the main objection of the inconvenience of its construction, will now be replaced with ugly high maintenance catenary lines feeding power to light rail trolley cars that will contribute to traffic congestion instead of solving it.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

The MVB "Worthy Award" goes to fellow Miami blogger Dayngrous for her eMOM campaign

The MVB Worthy Award was inspired by "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World," a 1963 movie starring Phil Silvers, Spencer Tracy, and Jonathan Winters among others. The parallels between the film and life in Miami-Dade County were eerily similar starting with the title of the picture which resonated with local relevance. In the movie, the characters will stop at nothing to get rich, just like many of our public "servants." When Jonathan Winters yells, "It's the Big 'W,' I tell ya, the Big 'W'!", they are led to believe that four palm trees resembling a "Big W" mark the spot where a recently deceased old guy's (Jimmy Durante) riches are buried. MVB liked the idea of taking a negative symbol that served as a beacon for cutthroat opportunists and transforming it into a positive one used in an award that recognizes: a) the efforts of those men and women fighting corruption and unbridled spending in a public sector palm covered world gone mad by greed and bone-headed stupidity and b), those in the private sector making the world a better place for all.

Fellow Miami blogger Dayngrous is so worthy in receiving our 5th-ever award. MVB is bestowing this prestigious prize upon her for her single-handed and unsung effort at buoying the morale of our service members. Participating doesn't mean you're for the war-- MVB wants the troops home yesterday. It does mean you want to tell these young men and women you are thinking about them and wish them well.

"eMail Our Military" (eMOM) is run from her home, an amazing feat in itself considering she has a toddler and a pre-schooler running around her feet while trying to run a household. However, it's not until you sign up as we did that you get the true scope of her accomplishment: working with the U.S. government isn't easy. It requires immense patience and savvy PR skills. As the "middle man," eMOM acts as the conduit for the public to reach service men and women stationed around the world. Once you get past jumping through the hoops the military sets up to protect its troops, it's pretty much clear sailing. We got our first "pen pal" name today. Although the act of writing an email to our troops is supposed to boost their spirits, I guarantee it will boost yours too. Even while composing the message, we started feeling better about ourselves. We knew through this simple act we were doing something good because our spirits were lifted.

If you haven't already done so, MVB urges all south Florida bloggers to get behind Dayngrous' worthy eMOM campaign. You'll be glad you did.

Only in Miami: the Miami Bird

Recently the National Audubon Society announced that Florida birds like the eastern meadowlark, the loggerhead shrike and the greater scaup are disappearing from our region due to urban sprawl. Birds like the American kestrel and American bittern, black skimmer, clapper rail, the northern bobwhite, rusty blackbird, the redwing blackbird and the little blue heron are also on our hit list. The names and numbers of the dwindling bird population were nothing more than statistics rolling past my eyes and numbing brain until the Miami Herald article mentioned that the Greynolds Park rookery has been "devastated." Then it became personal.

I grew up here and some of my fondest memories are at Greynolds Park as a kid and as an adult. As a kid I used the park to run and play in its woods and amazing coral rock outcrops which can tower over your head. To this day, I can remember as a cub scout lying low above a trail with fellow scouts planning an ambush of another troop. When the time came we whooped and yelled and jumped down through the underbrush on top of our quarry. Unfortunately, my shoe got caught in an exposed root and I found myself flying through the air with a head first trajectory for the sandy path and, I swear, it was all in slow motion and to this day, really cool. At the least, I should have broken something. But I didn't. Because this kind of stuff happened on a regular basis to me as a kid growing up wild and free in a far from politically correct world where playing with toy guns was okay, it helped grow in me the sense that God exists and for some reason he's sparing my sorry ass. So far.

As an adult, I got married and raised a family on the Oleeta River which leads into the park. We had a home on a canal that led to the river where we could take a small boat from our backyard and motor down through Enchanted Lake and dock at Greynolds. The rookery was amazing then, less than 10-years-ago. Literally the tree branches were weighed down by thousands of birds of nearly every shape and color. What was cool about the whole thing is that it was smack dab in the middle of North Miami Beach and just west of Aventura which meant you didn't have to travel way out to the Everglades to see this grand spectacular.

Now we're told the "robust rookery" has been "virtually eliminated." Blame is being put on development, man messin' with the natural ecosystem in the park (an alligator was removed from the lagoon which ate raccoons which ate birds' eggs) and the loss of mangroves from hurricanes. I personally believe hurricane Andrew and the hurricanes that followed had a lot to do with it. Many huge trees in the park were felled by Andrew and it took years for it to come back. I'm sure birds found other places to raise their young in the interim.

Just like us. Our resident archaeologist Bobby Bermudez and Church of the Groovey Dude follower is also an amateur ornithologist. He reassures us that it isn't as bad as it looks. Although some birds may be disappearing from our community, a new species has moved in and appears to be adapting quite well. Naming it after himself, Inyourface vulgaris bermudez is commonly known as the "Miami Bird." According to Bobby, unlike most wild things, it thrives in an urban environment and shows an uncanny ability to adapt to its surroundings.

"Unlike most birds, Inyourface vulgaris bermudez is a master at the art of camouflage meaning that it can appear as just about anything. The only common characteristic of the species is its single raised appendage.

"As for its bird call, it resembles the coo-cooing of the morning dove, but it's much shriller. And louder. Its distinct call can be heard over the noise of city life including the traditional highest decibel parts of town found on our expressways. It has two parts. The first is a repeated trilling that sounds like this: 'Fuckyou....Fuckyou....' The second part truncates the trilling with two rapid 'Motherfucker-Motherfucker' blasts. So, the call of the Miami Bird is 'Fuckyou...Fuckyou...Motherfucker- Motherfucker. Fuckyou...Fuckyou...Motherfucker-Motherfucker'."

If what scientists are reporting is true about the disappearing birds, then Bobby's new replacement bird with its accusatory cry seems all the more appropriate for us.

For those who would like to contribute to the conservation of what may be the only bird left in Miami, Bobby has set up a "non-profit" that sells cute little Miami Bird replicas that can be mounted in your car. Now, with the simple push of a button, you too can remind others about our disappearing bird population.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Support new Spanish-language theatre: Teatro en Miami debuts tonight

A recent Miami Herald profile on a new Spanish-language theatre reminds me how I wish I could speak Spanish and how I'm missing out on half of the stuff in the arts that happens here. I liked what I read about Teatro en Miami and liked what they were doing even more after visiting their website. That's where I found this YouTube video. It chronicles in pictures the birth of their second floor walk-up theatre that once was a radiator factory at 2500 SW eighth street and ends with a "trailer" for their first show opening tonight, Sangre, written and directed by one of its founders, Ernesto Garcia. (Watch the whole thing because the trailer is worthy).

After seeing the effort the acting troupe puts into removing the old machinery, cleaning, painting and constructing the stage, you "click away" hoping they make it. Sangre looks pretty "heavy" for the streets of Little Havana, i.e., their audience may be limited because of its elite references to classic Greek theatre, but then what do I know. The closest I come to Cubans nowadays on a regular basis are those times I visit the Latin American Cafe on Biscayne Blvd and the cashiers at Publix. Still, seeing all the effort they put into getting their theatre ready is inspiring. From what I can tell from the video, they are also talented-- from its directors (which includes Garcia's wife Sandra) through its cast.

Regarding the Garcia's, they are another example of immigrants struggling to make good and overcoming obstacles to see their dreams come true. Before moving into their new theatre on Calle Ocho, the troupe put on shows from the Garcia's home. The couple also funds almost all of their projects themselves. Before getting a job teaching acting at Miami-Dade College's InterAmerican campus, Sandra, for nearly 20-years was a professional actress in Cuba. When she came to Miami in 1995, she cleaned houses, taught Spanish, and worked in a restaurant. Ernesto has been a security guard, a delivery truck driver and a tire technician. In 2000, they launched the first website dedicated to theatre "in all of the Americas." In 2003, Yahoo en Español "recognized, a branch of Teatro en Miami, as one of the top 10 Spanish-language websites."

Which just goes to show you what talent and perseverance can do in freedom.

Help the Garcias live out their motto: "To not make theater is unacceptable." Buy tickets. Make Miami a better place.

Showtimes: 8:30 pm Friday's and Saturdays. Tickets: $20.00 Phone: 305-551-7473.

Miami City Manager Pete Hernandez does the right thing

Miami City Manager Pete Hernandez fires Miami Housing Director Barbara Gomez and nixes her million dollar pension. He also gave the heave ho to Mary Conway, Chief of Operations, for allowing a group of nearly a dozen employees-- who described themselves as "The Firm"-- to run their own business while at work-- to the point that the work they did for the city was shoddy and delayed leading to cost overruns.

Way to go, Pete for doing the right thing. It's so rare to see someone do that on the city and county level. It gives us all hope that things might actually be turning around down here what with the recent firings of the Northwesten High principal and the entire football staff.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Stop Road Rage Redux

Cousin Lenny in his Chrysler 300 on Third World Blvd in North Miami. Will someone please get him a Stop Road Rage! bumper sticker.*

*Yes, we know, this is a cheap "running gag" but many careers have been built on far flimsier stuff. We expect, in time, it will win us a Putzier. Anyway, if it makes Ines laugh, it was worth it.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Monocle Man On Volunteering and Lutherans

WARNING: First off, anyone wearing a monocle today should be viewed with suspicion. This gentleman, who wishes to remain anonymous as is a blogger's wont, is not the kind of guy you'd invite to a party. If his 1,000 yard stare doesn't quickly put your shindig into an irreversible slide toward downersville, his jaded, dyspeptic personality soon will. So, dear reader, read his words with caution and a mojito, MVB's drink of choice, in hand.
  • Besides being number one in America for rudeness and road rage, it also turns out according to a story in the Miami Herald that we are also at the very bottom of a list of cities with the lowest volunteer rates. This news comes to us following an earlier report that Americans are the most giving people on the earth. According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, the highest rates of volunteerism is found in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area where four in 10 adults volunteer.
  • This got me to thinking about Lutherans. I use to be one. The Minneapolis-St. Paul area is a hotbed for this faith. Garrison Keillor's "Prairie Home Companion" has been using them for comic fodder on NPR for years. Lutherans mean well but the church has been on a long slow decline for decades. I did my best to hold on for years, but I finally gave up when I realized that, although rock 'n roll has been around half-a-century, the Lutheran church continues to reach out to people with music from a hymnal more appropriate for people long dead and gone oh say, by at least 300 years. I think of it as the "Church of the Unsingable Hymn." It's ironic that the most powerful and singable hymns in the Lutheran church were written by its founder, Martin Luther, a rebel with a cause who's been dead for over 450 years. He was astute enough to lift the music of some German beer hall songs and re-write the lyrics in his effort to reach the common man. His "Mighty Fortress Is Our God," is still worthy after all these years. Unfortunately, when I use to attend church, I felt someone had always died-- I know, "someone" did but it seemed the church had forgotten the Resurrection part and was instead using the bombastic church organ-- an instrument of torture used during the Inquisition-- to remind us every Sunday morning of the solemn, sober side of the faith to the extant that I only heard dirges. God help them though. The church ladies* were a trip and man could they cook.

*Dana Carvey's Church Lady from the Golden Era of Saturday Night Live was inspired by growing up Lutheran.

Monday, July 09, 2007

The Wallflower Gallery Needs Your Help

I received this email today from Flash at The Wallflower Gallery:
The Wallflower Gallery has run out of money and is on the verge of closing.
After over 10 years of supporting independent artists, The Wallflower Gallery was voted ‘BEST GALLERY’ (runner up) in Miami Herald’s Readers Poll 2007. In addition, I personally, was honored by the Miami New Times 2007 Best Of Edition and awarded "Best Activist" for my efforts and the community programs at The Wallflower Gallery. Despite these accomplishments, the gallery is in financial crisis, due largely to recent renovations and operational costs. Being an all-ages venue, our profits are not made through bar sales, which makes it all the more important for us to raise money through the support of its patrons. The Wallflower Gallery has always provided quality entertainment at a low cost (or even free!), so that everyone could appreciate the "Local Art Experience". The Wallflower Gallery has stood as a beacon for creativity and original, artistic expression, which is much needed in our world of complacent living. For those who have experienced "The Wallflower Effect", you are well aware that you’ve encountered something quite out-of-the-ordinary, and hopefully you have connected with the feeling of belonging with a sense of Family.

In order to keep this dream alive for us all, and for us to continue The Wallflower Gallery’s community efforts, I am asking YOU today to SEND A DONATION. Any amount is helpful and greatly appreciated! Payments can be made through the website, by mail or by person. Corporate donations are also needed.
Other ways to contribute and keep The Wallflower Gallery operational:
  • Volunteer!! When you look at our calendar, you can see the wide array of creative programs that we offer. Most activities are run by myself and a few loyal volunteers - and as such, I rarely sleep...
  • Come BUY and support your local artists and musicians!
  • Take advantage of our rental program for your next private or corporate event. This is a GREAT place to host a party or funktion!
  • Call and ask what YOU can do!

Let’s PULL TOGETHER and keep The Wallflower blooming! Donations can be made through our PayPal account. You can go to our website at or check out our MySpace page at Checks made out to The Wallflower Gallery can be sent to 10 N.E. 3rd Street Downtown Miami, FL 33132. People can come by The Wallflower Gallery to donate. We’d love to see you!

Thank you, Friends, for your continuing support! Together we can make a difference. Please forward this to friends and "Show Some Love".
Funk Finder, The Wallflower Gallery
10 N.E. 3rd Street
Downtown Miami 33132

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Only in Miami: Sideshow Bob Watches Me Eat the Number Four at Dunkin' Donuts

I was sitting at a table along the window of the Dunkin' Donuts on Alton Road and 16th minding my own business and enjoying one of the great inventions of the world, the Number Four, the croissant breakfast sandwich served 24/7, and a coffee. It's a great place to catch your breath and to watch the human parade pass by, especially the women of SoBe, many of whom give you reason to go on. As I was looking at my Number Four, admiring the wonderful combination of egg, sausage, cheese, and dough, I sensed someone else was also taking time to appreciate my sandwich. I looked out the window, and there beside me stood "Sideshow Bob." Except this one was darker and homeless. His unkempt fro was so huge I choked on my Number Four. I tried to ignore him but he wouldn't go away. Unlike fellow blogger Xavier of the equally wonderful BoB site who would have gotten up and offered him money, the keys to his car, and a place to stay, I, like the few diners there that morning, tried to pretend he wasn't there. But he was. Staring, not bothering anybody. And then, when you just thought you couldn't find another place to look, to pretend Sideshow Bob wasn't standing outside your window, it happened. A gust of wind caught Sideshow Bob's fro and...blew it off.

Sideshow Bob was an impostor. His fro was bogus! The man was wearing a cheap (but very big)...wig!

The Dunkin' Donuts diners tittered. Sideshow Bob at first seemed to be unaware that he had lost his retro plumage and stood there lusting after my Number Four. Slowly, ever so slowly, he did what few of us could do in such an awkward situation: he nonchalantly and with equal aplomb, stepped back, picked it up and put it back on without missing a beat before going on his way.

The young guy with the impossibly tall Junoesque model most dweebs can only hope to see in the latest Ocean Drive remarked to everyone that he has to remind himself to stop taking the window seats. I told him as I admiringly watched Sideshow Bob (instead of the model which, unfortunately, says a lot about me) walk south toward Starbucks that hey, those are the best seats in this house called life: up close and personal with only a thin sheet of glass and air-conditioning to separate and to insulate you from the cartoon characters in the absurdest play known as SoBe. And then, once it appears safe or dangerous, depending on what rocks your boat, you can either go out and play with them or remain safely ensconced with your cup of coffee with cream and sugar and your truly amazing Number Four.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Florida Filmmaking Deals

Want to make a movie in Florida? Governor Charlie Crist signed a reworked film, TV and digital media incentive package that includes:
  • $25 million for cash reimbursements up to 15% of the total Florida budget of a filmed television show or movie,

  • Unused funds may roll over into next year's budget, allowing for productions to qualify for money in both fiscal years (Florida's fiscal year ends on June 30th),

  • Qualifying expenditure threshold has been lowered from $850,000 to $625,000,

  • Florida's independent filmmakers will need only $100,000 to qualify for state funds,

  • Up to $400,000 will be allowed for individual salaries,

  • A 2 percent bonus is available for family-friendly films.

FYI, Electronic Arts, one of the world's biggest video game makers is based in Orlando (Sun Post).

For more information, click here.

Graphic: Martin Kreloff, from the 1980 Greater Miami International Film Festival.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Stop Road Rage!

Miami holds the dubious distinction of being number one nationally for road rage for the second year in a row. Bob Kunst wants to do something about it. His organization Stop Road Rage is behind a bumper sticker campaign that exhorts motorists (at least those who can read English) to: "Stop Road Rage/Slower Traffic Keep Right/It's the law."

This, of course, says a lot about our city. Talk about a New York minute, a Miami minute is twice as fast and twice as dangerous if you happen to be holding someone up. Kunst, a long time resident, knows his city well. He could have chosen something biblical for the bumper sticker like: "Do Unto Others." Instead, he chose to address the thing that really talks to us, framing it in language that protects us from getting killed for screaming at the top of our lungs what we are really thinking: "Get out of the way you fucking third-world motherfucking moron!"

Part of his campaign as outlined in the Sun Post includes sending the Pope some bumper stickers for the Pope Mobile ($13.50 gets you 5) in response to the Vatican's recent Driving Ten Commandments. He also sent Paris Hilton some free samples. You gotta love this guy.

Photo: Verticvs driving his chariot down Third World Boulevard (W. Dixie Hwy/N. Miami).

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Swat a Litterbug

The City of Miami Gardens is fed up with littering and has initiated a new campaign to bring it to an end. The Swat a Litterbug Hotline (305-622-8034) has been set up to foil those miscreants by shaming them into compliance. All you gotta do is give the city the date, time, license plate number, location and a brief description of what you saw. To date, according to the Sun Post, 276 litterbugs have been swatted with a letter signed by the mayor and city manager. The "warning" comes with a free litterbag. Whether or not a nasty letter from the mayor is enough to make someone think twice before dumping that old refrigerator in the the middle of Miami Gardens Drive remains to be seen but MVB thinks some incentive might be in order, say free garbage bags (sponsored by Glad and tied-in with the city's billboard promotion) with every narc's report.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy Birthday, America!

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To paraphrase Steve Martin's Czech brother character from an old SNL sketch, "America is a wild and crazy place." Too bad the humorless want to do us harm. A country like ours deserves its rightful place at the top of the pecking order if only because we can laugh at just about everything including ourselves.

The 4th of July makes me think about how far we've come in the last 20-years alone at lightening up. Back in 1980 I was placing advertising for Superman II in Miami and Ft. Lauderdale. The studio wanted to run a special 4th of July ad that showed Christopher Reeve carrying a flag pole with Old Glory waving in the breeze. The Sun-Sentinel didn't have a problem with it. The Miami Herald did. After submitting the ad we were told that the flag had to go, that the paper had a policy about using the American flag in any advertising. Past deadline, there was nothing we could do about it so the paper excised the offending flag and ran the ad like this:

I'm sure it made thousands more want to buy tickets because as you and I know, there's nothing more exciting than a man with a big stick.

Now, after all these years, good or bad, the flag is used to sell just about everything in the Miami Herald.

You gotta laugh.

God bless America!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

MVB PSA: How to get a Stack-- Miami Dade County's $1,000 Gun Bounty Program

Got Guns? Know someone that's got guns?
Now you can turn them in through Miami-Dade County's new "How to get a Stack" gun bounty program. Using street parlance for a "stack" of bills adding up to a thousand dollars, the police have made it easy to turn in those gun wielding idiots in your neighborhood. Just call 305-471-TIPS (8477) to report a person illegally possessing a gun. The tipster must then supply detailed information about the possession and location of the person with the gun. If the offender is arrested, the tipster is eligible for a $1,000.00 reward!

How will I live long enough to pick up the reward?
We've got you covered. The Program is designed to maintain anonymity for all tipsters. You will not be identified and your information will remain confidential. Each informational tip is assigned a secret numeric code that serves as the only identification in the reporting and payment process.

How do I know the police will handle the problem?
All law enforcement agencies in Miami-Dade County are committed to a quick and thoroughly ending of any problems involving illegal gun activity. Once the tipster information is confirmed, police will respond immediately.

Where do I collect my reward?
Utilizing your assigned secret numeric code, you will be instructed by Crime Stoppers to collect your reward from a bank.

Program tip: After collecting your reward, don't go and blow it all on a set of rims. Remember, protection is only guaranteed during the Program. What happens after you collect your money is out of our control. We suggest you open an IRA or use it as a deposit on a home you can't afford but won't stop realtors from taking your business anyway.

Monday, July 02, 2007

MiMo Coppertone Sign Campaign

MiMo, that diverse group of citizens working to revitalize the historic Biscayne Boulevard MiMo district as a future destination, is working toward having Miami's famous Coppertone sign placed in the MiMo Biscayne Boulevard Historic District.

Besides MiMo, Mark "News Café" Soyka, owner of the pizzeria, Andiamo and architect Camilo Alvarado Boshell, developer of the adjacent Kubik condominium, would like to see the 35' tall Coppertone kid and her dog moved from its current location in downtown Miami to the MiMo historic district. Specifically, to Soyka's Andiamo pizzeria that once housed a General Tire store. That building, designed in 1954 by Robert Law Weed, has this great retro Jetsons look. The sign would go where the old one once stood.

Downside: It may be too fragile to move and the City of Miami may have a problem with erecting another sign in its city limits (unless, of course, they're billboards). According to a MiMo email, Coppertone has been approached to see if they want to get involved in the movement and restoration of the sign but the company isn't committing to anything at this point.

MVB applauds the effort MiMo puts into everything they do, but we suspect that the sign may overpower its intended location. As much as we love the sign, we like the animated one that use to greet people driving south at the Golden Glades Interchange even more. That one had the kid's dog pulling down the bottom of her bathing suit. It was smaller and would make a better fit in our humble opinion. In any event, Coppertone ought to fork over some money to at least restore the original sign in downtown Miami.

UpDate (7/30): Owners of the building have decided to restore the original design. Search for a new home for the Coppertone sign continues.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Sherdavia Jenkins

It's been one year ago today since 9-year-old Sherdavia Jenkins was cut down by a stray bullet. Rest In Peace. And may your family find the peace that "passes all understanding."

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."