Sunday, November 29, 2009

A commendation for this Miami New Times article exposing unlicensed chemical hair treatments solicited via Craigslist.

There are two links in the article, one to an article from another source, and the second to a live Craigslist ad for unlicensed hair treatment.
Perhaps two isn't sufficient, but it's better than what I'm accustomed to.
What do you think?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

details, what are they good for?

This Miami Herald article, while covering a something quite interesting, is devoid of important details. The owner of a construction company is arrested because he allegedly bribed Opa-Locka commissioners to receive government contracts.
Oh! Great Herald, which commissioners were those? Were they arrested? When did that all happen?

Aside from that, a lot of these questions would be answered if there were simply links in the online article to previous, related stories featured in the Herald, or other reputable sources.

The only article available on the internet (when searching for either Faustin Denis or Dante Starks [the two men arrested in relation to this case]) is from local CBS 4. But as you can see it's not really any better, and doesn't seem to have any writer credit.

After doing a tiny bit more digging I did find this article from a local blog post a few years back. It mentions Commissioner Terrence Pinder as one person receiving the bribdes from Dante Starks. No mention of Denis. This post does not have any corroborative links, though, so I don't think if they're the same Dante Starks, etc.

However, a little more digging in Google News and I found this article from 2007 mentioning the two again, and an archived Miami Herald article whose headline alludes to Pinder in fact being the/a Commissioner involved in the scandal.

I'm too tired to try digging deeper, but I want to point out how much I found with such little effort as an example of why traditional newspaper journalism can and should die.

Anyway, as the CBS article mentions, there is currently no information from "officials" as to whether Commissioners will be investigated or not. Neither the CBS nor Miami Herald article mention Pinder, although Dante Starks and Pinder are linked together in the 2007 blog post.

Me thinks Pinder was not the only person receiving kickbacks, mostly because in a bureaucracy it's not common for just one person to make decisions, and if these bribes were to avoid a legitimate bidding process, someone else must have been involved lest they would have noticed how strangely things were working in these many construction projects.

the wrong message?

A young girl who was driving during deadly hit-and-run has been given probation and community service hours, according to the AP, via the Miami Herald.

It's really disappointing. As sure as I may be that she didn't do it on purpose, what message does this send?

This comes close to a month after the fatal hit-and-run of a local student, Rodolfo Rojos, who was killed while riding his biycyle on Biscayne Bouldevard on October 30th.
That story was never reported by a news source as a simply search through google news will corroborate. Quite sad. The Transit Miami post about this tragedy has letters written by Rodolfo's family lamenting the loss, and demonstrating their deep love for him.

What's wrong with us, and what's wrong the Miami Herald? Miami New Times?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Earlier this month the Whole Foods Market in South Beach had a bit of a shit problem.

That's funny because I remember smelling shit when I was in that store about two months ago or so.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Miami Herald: not picking sides in a battle between truth and lies

T-Mobile, the cell phone service provider I haven't paid in three months wants to build a cell phone service tower in the city of Miami Gardens, according to this Miami Herald article. But the people of that city are terrified that such a tower would give them all cancer, causing eventual and painful death.
The Herald notes though, from a pamphlet handed out to citizens by T-Mobile citing the American Cancer Association that "microwaves, FM radio transmitters, baby monitors and police radios emit more radio frequencies than a cell site."

Read this short article and note how the writer avoids offending anyone.

In most cases I think journalists should avoid picking sides because in many situations the facts are tenuous at best, and much is yet to be resolved. However, once truth is established I think it's a journalist's responsibility (if they want to go by that title at least) to not only recognize the facts, but to also point out which side of a debate is wrong.

The citizens of Miami Gardens who threatened legal action in response to this situation are wrong. These ignoramuses do no deserve equal coverage in this article because their opinion, while popular amongst the uneducated, is not supported by facts.
And this of course goes to the heart of why I dislike government. Politicians are responsible to these idiots, who care not for truth and reality, but instead are concerned with their warped views of how the world works, and maintaining some schizophrenic sense of justice and peace which coincides with their delusions.

It makes me wonder how [not] far the species has come overall when the majority still cling to folklore and urban legends in the face of cold hard evidence from impartial parties.
Perhaps they think Satan has misled the American Cancer Association to surreptitiously increase cancer rates around the planet.

ps sorry for comparing ignorant people with evangelical christians.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Too little, the day of

This Herald article highlights Homeless Awareness Day, which has been organized by the Miami Dade Homeless Trust for today.

Yes, that's right, today. The article which was published on their web page earlier today does nothing for anyone who may have wanted to participate in some of the events.

I would have taken the opportunity to get some cards for the Homeless Helpline. I wrote about this on TransitMiami recently.

Cuba, do we come?

This article in the Miami Herald talks about hearings in Congress on lifting the travel ban to Cuba.

I just wanted to comment on Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and other persons who oppose lifting the ban, especially Cuban-Americans. The travel and trade embargoes are a marketing campaign against the "Community" regime in that country.
The reality is that this embargo hurts the Cuban people who so desperately need an influx of goods (Pianos being one example) and violates the rights of any human being who wants to visit Cuba, including me.
Cuba is less than 300 miles from Miami! That would be a one hour flight, or a few hours boat ride that I look forward to taking sometime in the future.

I wonder how Ros-Lehtinen feels about the US' relationship with such violators of human rights as China, Israel, Sri Lanka, Colombia, Nigeria, and on and on and on.

My point? She's a hypocrite.

Do our schools need more money?

A few articles appeared in the last few days from the Herald regarding Florida School's need for more funding.

The first article is about a lawsuit telling Florida it doesn't spend enough on education, violating its constitution. The second article is also about a lawsuit telling Florida it doesn't spend enough on education.
Or at least that's what the Herald makes it sound.
"This suit simply asks the question: 'Do we have high quality education in this state today?' and asks the court to answer that question," said former Florida House Speaker Jon Mills, who is part of the plaintiffs' legal team. (second article)

I get the feeling from the articles that the focus of the suits will be funding, as the herald notes in the first article, the Legislature is relentlessly shifting a bigger share of education funding to school districts, lowering the state's contribution from 62 percent in 2001 to 45 percent this year.
But as I think anyone who has either graduated from the Florida school system, or has/d a child in it, funding is the least of the problems. Incompetence and inefficiencies abound in most schools, and it's a problem that I doubt these suits will address.
Teachers unions, for instance, constantly protect bad teachers, and rarely (if ever?) address that issue in public. It seems every year here in Miami-Dade stampedes of teachers descend on the School Board building to demand better pay, perhaps it's time for students and parents to hold similar rallies demanding better teachers?
There's a third article that popped up this morning that addresses a possible bid by Florida to request as much as one billion dollars in educational grant money from the federal government. Again with the assumption by all parties that the problem is money.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Miami Dade County Transit route adjustments

I wrote an article for the local website TransitMiami, but I'm reposting it her
This link below is the document[s] I read to prepare this article.

On or some time after December 13, 2009 Miami Dade Transit will be adjusting 36 routes, and adding two new ones.

These changes are what MDT calls SERI, Service Efficiency and Restructuring Initiative. The idea, as laid out in a Nov. 3 memorandum to the County Commission, is to: reduce cost, duplication, and underutilized service.

On paper the recommendations sound interesting. The memorandum (and other documents included) estimates 17,500 additional daily bus-to-bus transfers. To reduce the fiscal burden this would put upon the ridership, MDT will eliminate any cost associated with transfers within 3 hours of the initial leg of a trip.

While there is much more of interest in these changes (and promises made as part of these changes, such as “an aggressive SERI implementation plan” which includes but is not limited to the outrageous first bullet: disseminating information through marketing campaign, do they know Dec 13th is a month away? Quite aggressiveindeed !) I would like to focus on how the services changes will affect riders, specifically the Collins Ave/Miami Beach transit corridor, which has at least five rout adjustments.

Various busses currently enter the Beach and then run either up or down the remainder of its span. The G, H, and J bus will now no longer do this. They will enter Miami Beach, and shortly thereafter reverse back to whence they came. The K bus will be eliminated.
The bus drivers I’ve spoken with so far are a bit nervous about these changes because they put the burden of transferring on ANYONE who enters the Beach on these busses and isn’t going to their respective end-points. However, the S route will still run all the way down the Beach, but more importantly the Beach Max, which stops where the G, H, and J will end, will double its frequency!
This is precisely the sort of compensating service necessary to ensure that the aforementioned route changes don’t impose a large burden on riders. It isn’t a perfect compromise, as the Beach Max will still have limited stops on the Beach, but those riding there for work will most likely be well served by these changes.

I invite others to look at the proposed changes and share with us ways they see things falling out. I hope MDT takes advantage of the constant data-set the new Easy card system provides to often reassess their decisions and strive to offer better service in a very poorly served county.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

11/17 12:13pm

I'm saving this link for later use. I have yet to figure out how I can better save and organize bookmarks, but this is a very interesting article from the Herald about County Commissioners using tax money to go on frivolous but somehow legal trips to exotic countries.

Banana Republican't

Francisco Alvarado has a piece in the Miami New Times which makes a few claims he doesn't bother sourcing or substantiating:
  • City of Miami Mayor Tom Regalado and Commissioner Marc Sarnoff supposedly pressuring now resigned and indicted ex-Commissioner Angel Gonzalez "to come into City Hall for an emergency city commission meeting to appoint Spence-Jones's replacement"
  • Then the duo trying to get the City Attorney to write an official opinion allowing Florida Governor Christ to choose the replacement for Spence-Jones
  • Then they try to get the City Clerk to "expedite the certification results of today's runoff."
  • And back to the Attorney.
There's no way to say whether these claims are true or not, I haven't bothered doing the research, but as the Miami New Times is a News source, I shouldn't have to do research to verify their articles, right?

Poll: Miami Herald doesn't care about the integrity of polls

I'm putting off the Spence-Jones controversy until I've gathered some more resources. And it'll just take more time to write than I've had to give today.

Instead I just wanted to mention I poll I recently conducted here in North Miami Beach. I only polled myself and my mother, which estimating the population of NMB at 50k (it was less than 40 in 2000) means I polled about .004% of the population.*
Does that poll seem unsubstantial to you?

Enter the Miami Herald's coverage of a poll done in Cuba. This is breaking news.
Some group was able to conduct an opinion poll in Cuba with a sample size of 432. That's .0039% of the Cuban population. What did this fantastically obscure poll find? Apparently Cubans don't like the direction their country is going in.

Aside from pointing out the obvious, you shouldn't take this poll, or almost any poll you see in the mainstream media seriously because the opinions of less than one percent of the population do not represent the views of the whole.
One need not take a course in statistics to recognize the usefulness of this advice. While these 432 Cubans have a right to their opinions--I'm sure they're very good opinions--an individual trying to learn of the daily struggles and mindsets of Cubans should not take this information into account for said purpose.

The Herald includes the opinion of a Miami pollster, suggesting "general caution in interpreting results from the country." While this is perhaps a relevant point to make, I am more concerned with the lack of information about the procedures used by the polling group to gather the information and most importantly, about the insignificant pool of persons polled.

Moral of the story? Polls usually don't really tell us anything. They force a small group of people to be grouped together by vague opinions which they may not even hold.
I'm a big stickler for the misuse of polls, so look forward to more rants.

*This is a lie. I did not poll anyone.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Notions and Motions

I like the idea of blogs, but find that those I attempt to create never meet my standards.

This is another attempt.
I want to review, post, and critique news happening around Miami-Dade County, most specifically the areas in which I spend the most time, North Miami Beach, City of Miami and Miami Beach.

The local big name newspaper, the Miami Herald, lacks most semblances of journalistic integrity. They have no system for collecting and disseminating local news. Like other corporate media they cover stories that sell papers. Good for them. Great for me as well as they will provide the majority of the fodder for this blog.

However the biggest hurdles, I believe, in making a successful blog are organization and the formatting of the blog posts themselves. So work in progress, a?

I'm hoping to have the first news related post up later today. It will cover the recent suspension of City of Miami Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones on suspicion of various crimes related to misusing City money, and fraud.
My angle? Everyone's treating her like she's guilty, but none of the news sources are providing evidence linking Spence-Jones to the crimes themselves. (which were certainly committed)
But that's later.

Open Letter on Incorporation Facts

Neighbors, We will vote in November on whether to become a city. If Yes wins, our county commissioner will select a committee of resid...