Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine engages in a little 'hero self-worship'

In this rare, un-retouched photo, Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine visits 
paratroopers on June 5, 1944, moments before the troops boarded 
transport planes bound for Normandy and the June 6 D-Day invasion. 
Photo courtesy of the Office of Miami 
Beach Mayor Philip Levine. (Click image to enlarge)

South Florida's most self-important and narcissistic politician, Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, recently penned an op-ed piece for the Miami Herald that talked about his city's fight against sea level rise.

The reason I know this is because he's been endlessly promoting it on Facebook.

But Levine doesn't provide a link to the piece on the Herald's website.

Instead he posted the op-ed on a website he uses to communicate with his constituents.

A possible reason for not linking to the Herald may be that some unknown editor at the paper appears to have performed a little surgery on Levine's grandiloquent prose.

Perhaps channeling Mahatama Gandhi, Levine begins his piece in his usual modest style:
The truest measure of any society, or any person, is the willingness to protect a future they will never personally experience.

Call it what you will - caring for others, having a conscience, paying it forward - but this is precisely what defines and motivates the best in all of us. This is especially true when the cause is universal, the effects are close to home, and the outcome is uncertain.
So far, so good.

And then come these three lines:
Like America's "greatest generation," who, at a critical moment in time, stood together to defeat the terror of Nazi Germany.

Like President John F. Kennedy, who stared down Kruschev-like dictators banging shoes on tables to claim what was never theirs.

Like President Ronald Reagan, who inspired a nation to believe again after a prolonged time of doubt and despair.
No, you're not hallucinating. Philip Levine is actually comparing his city's fight against sea level rise with the fight against Nazi Germany.

However, it's unknown why those lines didn't make it in the paper. A bit much, even for the Herald? We'll never know.

But Levine saves the the best for last with these two paragraphs that did get in the paper:
[T]here's nothing I won't do, no place I won't go, to seek the answers to one of the greatest challenges society as we know it has ever confronted.

As Great Britain faced an impending invasion during World War II, Winston Churchill said, "We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender."

Modesty is not one of Mayor 
Philip Levine's strong suits. 
(Click image to enlarge) 
In just 726 words, Levine manages to compare himself to "America's greatest generation," John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, and Winston Churchill.

Really, Mayor Levine? Winston Churchill and John F. Kennedy?

You can't be serious.

I suggest you look up "megalomania" or "narcissistic personality disorder" in the dictionary and then seek out the services of a competent psychiatrist. You have some serious issues.

Previously: Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine is now a published author!

Philip Levine, Miami Beach's not-ready-for-primetime mayor, traveled to Washington DC this weekend and made a complete ass of himself

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

I need your help

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Just click on the Paypal "donate" button at the top of the right-hand column and follow the instructions.

Thank you for your support and continued readership.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

'Where is the bottom?'

In 1981 the Miami Herald's daily circulation was somewhere around 421,000. Sunday circulation was near a half-million copies.

By 2008, the paper's daily circulation had slipped to about 240,000, and Sunday was 311,000.

In 2010 - according a page on the McClatchy Company's website that hasn't been updated in years - the Herald's daily circulation had fallen to 191,873 daily, and 263,612 Sunday....or less according to other numbers. 

In Oct. 2010, Herald veteran Aminda Marques Gonzalez was named the paper's executive editor, succeeding Anders Gyllenhaal.
"I am thrilled to have Mindy take the helm of the newsroom at the Miami Herald, then publisher David Landsberg said. "She is an outstanding journalist with a deep personal connection to South Florida. She is uniquely qualified to lead us into the future." [Source]

However, according to a recently filed publisher's statement, [embedded below] the Herald's daily print circulation is now at about 86,000 copies, and Sunday is 157,000. (Last year's publisher's statement listed the daily circulation at a little more than 94,000 copies daily, and almost 174,000 Sunday.)

Put another way, in the four years since Marques Gonzalez took "the helm" at the paper, the Herald's daily circulation has dropped by more than 105,000 copies, and Sunday's loss is almost the same - about 106,000.

"Where is the bottom?" one former high-ranking Herald staffer asked in an email that's now making the rounds.

Miami Herald, Oct. 9, 2014, page 4A.
Click here to enlarge.

Earlier this year Marques Gonzalez told Ocean Drive Magazine: "A big percentage of our revenue now is digital; I think we’re at 20 percent."

So how is the Herald's website doing?

Quantcast counts 14M impressions per month and 4.7M unique visitors. That doesn't include their blogs.

And for all you data freaks, there's a wealth of information on Quantcast's website.

For instance, 39% of visits to come from people who are just passing through, but who account for almost 75% of the site's visitors on any given day.

So while the website numbers are nothing to sneeze at, Marques Gonzalez and company still have a way to go before the paper's digital revenues catch up with, or surpass print.

Is Marques Gonzalez up to the task? For an answer to that, look at her track record so far.

Or as one Herald insider told me in an email last April:
The executive editor actually boasted recently about 20 percent of the Herald's revenue coming from digital means. Think about that - after all of this time and effort, only 20 percent of our revenue is coming from the newspaper's only hope for the future, digital. And that's 20 percent of an overall revenue base that steadily diminishes as print circulation and advertising evaporate. That's hardly boast-worthy.

Anybody wanna buy some ads?

Friday, October 17, 2014

Random Pixels reader accuses Herald reporters of being 'lazy'

A little over four years ago, 23 Miami Herald journalists, alarmed at the growing trend of using tweets and anonymous reader comments in stories, complained to their colleagues in a rant posted on the paper's internal bulletin board.
But perhaps most disturbing, on Tuesday we allowed an anonymous poster, "unhappyatjackson," to suggest that one Jackson employee "needs to be fired" while another, Marvin O'Quinn, "needs to go to jail." When did the Herald decide it was appropriate to allow people to attack others ... perhaps libel them ... in print, and anonymously?

Fast forward four years.

Below is part of an email I received this morning from a long-time reader of this blog who took issue with a recent Herald story that included anonymous comments from the blog, exMiami...a blog that Miami New Times describes as a "mysterious real estate news site."

From the email:
I am horrified [that] professional journalists [at the Herald], are too lazy to do research or verify what's being put on the blog, [exMiami] and are quoting them as an authoritative source.

Last Sunday, for example, Andres Viglucci and Hannah Sampson had a page 1A piece in the paper about the proposed museum/office tower that Bruce Berkowitz wants to build on Biscayne Boulevard.

Too lazy to actually, like, go ask real people what they think about the design of the building, Viglucci/Sampson simply quoted from the comments section of exMiami.

From the story:

The Fairholme building’s unusual design and prominent location, though, seem sure to spur a lively public debate. When renderings were posted on the website recently, one commenter called it “awful” and another compared it to the Jawa Sandcrawler in Star Wars. But others embraced it just as forcefully: “YES YES YES! I love it!” went one fan. “Bravo!” went another.
So, according to our paper of record, anonymous commenters on an anonymous blog whose backers and motivation are unknown are THE SAME THING as real people standing in the public square having a "lively public debate."

This is terrible, very bad journalism. How does Viggluci know that these comments are being made by independently-minded people and not shills for a special interest related to the project? How does he even know it's more than one person making these posts?

FOOTNOTE: Andres Viglucci is one of the 23 Miami Herald reporters who, four years ago, signed the internal bulletin board post that decried the use of tweets and anonymous comments in the Herald's news stories.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

'Ladies and gentlemen, we have an extremely peculiar situation right now.'

One word sums up the beginning of tonight's gubernatorial debate....

Okay, maybe 18 words....

charlie crist, fan, rick scott, florida debate, #fangate

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Miami Beach Police investigating drive-by shooting at Ocean Drive's Fat Tuesday [UPDATED 3x]

UPDATED on Oct 13 at 12:30 p.m.: Miami Beach Police on Monday released the identities of two men stopped early Sunday morning following the drive-by shooting on Ocean Drive. Arrested were Alex Crandon, 20, of Brooklyn, NY, and Dimitri Mara Bastien, 22, of Bayshore, NY.

The arrest report says the two were stopped by police in the 1500 block of Washington Ave. because the 2014 Nissan Altima they were riding in matched the description of a vehicle wanted in connection with the shooting at Fat Tuesday's.

Crandon was arrested for knowingly driving with a suspended license, and Bastien was arrested for marijuana possession and possession of counterfeit currency.

Police discovered the 100 dollar bills he was carrying were counterfeit after inspecting them and finding that some of the bills had identical serial numbers.

Police believe that Bastien and Crandon were involved in some way with the drive-by shooting, but aren't being specific. At this point they have not been charged with the shooting.


UPDATED at 7:40 p.m.: Miami Beach Police spokesperson Vivian Thayer sends this update: "Two subjects were arrested from the traffic stop. The driver was arrested for traffic offense and one of the passengers was arrested for possession of cannabis and counterfeit currency.

"The shooter is still at large. BOLO is out for a slim black male 5'8-5'10"."

Thayer says she will have the names of those arrested in the morning

UPDATED at 7:05 p.m.: A source tells me that the drive-by shooting at Fat Tuesday's was the result of a "New York gang member retaliating against another gang member."


Miami Beach Police detectives are investigating a drive-by shooting that occurred early Sunday morning near Fat Tuesday's on Ocean Drive. Fortunately, no one was injured.

Here's a statement on the incident from Miami Beach Police spokesperson Vivian Thayer:
Officers responded to the above location in reference to a “shots fired” call. A witness stated that a black male fired several shots from a dark colored vehicle at or near Fat Tuesday’s Bar and then fled the scene. Upon arrival officers found several “casings” and bullet holes at the incident location.

Crime scene and detectives were called to the scene. The investigation is on-going at this time.
At approximately 0247 hours officers Vincent Stella and Daniel Colombo spotted the vehicle at the 1500 block of Washington and a felony stop was made. Det. Estopinan and Gutierrez responded to the scene. One of the subjects had 8 counterfeit $100 dollar bills in his possession.

Police have yet to release the names of the suspects they have in custody.