Blue Herrings and Hunting Cats

So here I am standing at the kitchen sink this morning washing dishes when I catch a movement out of the corner of my eye.  I instinctively look down and right there on the counter under my face is one of those big fat, ugly, disgusting palmetto bugs that made South Florida famous.  You know, the ones the size of small helicopters that aim right for your head if you’re unlucky enough to be in their flight path.  Normally I just nonchalantly walk away and load my shotgun…  KIDDING!  They sure would be great for target practice, anyway.  But, this morning it caught me completely by surprise and I dropped the plate and screamed like a girl.

My husband came running, thinking I got electrocuted or burned myself trying to boil water again (kids, don’t try this at home), and when he saw it was just a palmetto bug he promptly killed it.  My hero!

Now our cats usually take care of this problem before I run into any of those damn bugs.  The deceptively sweet faced Little Girl is actually our best critter hunter. Continue reading

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If it bleeds, it leads

Make no mistake about it.  Nothing sells news like murder and mayhem.  The same principle is involved when traffic slows to glacial speed even if the accident is well off to the side of the road.  People love blood and guts.  While there’s no actual bloodletting to report here in North Miami Beach, where a contentious budget balancing act is taking place, the North Miami Beach Police Department lured the press here with the promise of murder and mayhem if things don’t go their way.  Like sharks circling a shipwreck in search of survivors, reporters are flocking to our city, elbowing each other out of the way to get a story worth broadcasting at 5:00, 5:30, 6:00, 6:30, and then again at 10:00, 10:30, 11:00 and, if there’s enough gore, again the next morning.  The more gore the better because in the local news business, if it bleeds, it leads.

Yesterday, some of the members of the Police Department walked the streets of NMB trying to drum up support for the “List of 24” officers who are allegedly targeted for layoffs.  In a theatrical show of what is meant to be visually shocking, the “24” are even wearing numbers on their blue shirts in order to announce where they stand on the “List.”  I totally get it.  First of all, they’re trying to put a human face on what is usually a very dry topic, i.e., the city budget.  But even more importantly, it’s a cute shtick that plays well in the media.  The “sea of blue” is camera ready.  By circulating this “List of 24,” and accusing the brand new City Manager, Lyndon Bonner, of making this “List,” the cops are getting lots and lots of media attention.  Which is exactly what they set out to do.  This is no grassroots effort.  This is a carefully planned and executed game plan to garner public sympathy.  It really is right out of the Cloward/Piven Strategy playbook – create, then manage a crisis.  Good job, fellas!

Continue reading

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In Defense of GOP Principles, by a Common Sense Republican

For those of you who are leery of the fact that I am a Republican, I thought I’d try to give you a better idea of my personal political beliefs.  You’ll find I’m not so scary after all.  I realize that Republicans are continuously bashed by the liberal media and the ladies on The View.  But, in case you haven’t had the opportunity to actually talk to a real, live Republican and form your own opinion, let me first smash any preconceived notions you may have about those of us who like elephants on our bumper stickers.

First of all, notice how I called this column, “In Defense of GOP PRINCIPLES” and not “In Defense of the GOP.”  These days, the Republican Party is doing about as well as the Other Party in terms of getting their respective acts together.  There are good and bad things about both parties, and neither one is perfect.  For every Nancy Pelosi in Congress, there’s a John McCain.  Like I said, neither party is perfect.  But the main problem with both the Republican and the Democratic Parties is that they let politicians join.  That’s where the trouble starts.

By GOP Principals, I am really talking about only three simple things:  Smaller government, less taxes, more personal freedom.

That’s it.  The whole enchilada.

But because politicians have taken over the party, they’ve really made a mess of things.  They decided to fix what wasn’t broken. Continue reading

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Roosting Chickens

As far back as December of 2009, I started warning the North Miami Beach City Council and then City Manager, Kelvin Baker, that the economy was on the verge of collapsing.  I sent them an article in Business Week dated December 29, 2009, “Weak economy, high unemployment South Fla.’s top story” (http://www.businessweek.com/ap/financialnews/D9CSDI6O0.htm). This article bluntly stated, “Florida’s unemployment rate hit 11.5 percent in November, the highest since 1975, with more than a million people out of work. That’s up from 8.6 percent in January and from 3.3 percent in 2006. Over the past year, Florida has lost 284,800 jobs, with construction job losses leading all other industries with 73,300 fewer jobs.  The state also has the second-highest foreclosure rate — one out of every 165 homes was in some stage of foreclosure last month, according to RealtyTrac Inc. Only Nevada’s rate was worse. Housing prices had dropped almost 7 percent in October over the same month last year, according to the Florida Association of Realtors.”

Not surprisingly, the Council never even acknowledged my letter.

Of course, I was not alone.  Several years before that plenty of citizen activists, the ones ridiculed by council members as the “Same Ten People,” a/k/a STPs, were demanding fiscal accountability and responsibility of a largely deaf government body. Continue reading

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A picture is worth 50 million words.

As much as I love numbers, I probably love graphs and charts even more.  To me, numbers are the most perfect thing in the universe.  There is nothing subjective about mathematics.  Numbers are based on pure fact, not emotion.  An equation only has one answer.  See?  Perfect!

Charts are also based on facts, but they can also be works of art.  Take a budget, for example.  The line items of income and expenditures tell a story to those who are willing to hunker down and study the facts and figures and comparisons.  Anyone with the fortitude it takes to study a budget will be able to grasp a firm understanding of an entity’s financial viability.

But nothing beats the visual impact of a chart.  Charts are especially wonderful for those of us with short attention spans or age onset dyslexia or lost reading glasses. Continue reading

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“Making Friends and Influencing People?” I think not!

My parents were honest-to-goodness hippies.  My father was the more staid of the two, never quite leaving the fifties, with his Fonzie haircut and his “gang” of fellow New Yorkers.  But my mother embraced the sixties with open arms, wearing love beads, blue jeans (very radical back then on Girl Scout den mothers), and flowers in her hair.  I grew up wishing my parents were June and Ward Cleaver, but instead I was raised by the Woodstock Generation’s version of The Osbournes.  Let’s just say, in my house I didn’t eat the brownies.

The life lessons my parents thought we should learn were Peace, Love, Happiness…Police Brutality.  Being the “Alex P. Keaton” of the family, I must have been my parents’ worst nightmare.  While my two brothers followed in my mother’s footsteps and became her partners in “crime,” not to mention her bail bonds business, I insisted on going to Hebrew School, college and becoming a productive member of society.  Completely rebelling from my parents’ inherent mistrust of the law and those who enforce it, I went into the legal field and became an honest, upright, voting citizen and, as you all know, community activist.  In addition, I have always supported and respected those people who became police officers. Continue reading

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Bad Apples?

Somewhere amidst all the rhetoric being spewed over North Miami Beach’s budget crisis there is the truth.  Reasonable people know this.  Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be enough reason to go around these days.  Panic, however, is in abundant supply.

In response to the City Manager’s directive to cut $4 million from its budget, the NMB Police Department’s immediate reaction was to put out the now infamous “List of 24” police officers that just had to be fired.  The Police Department insisted this was the only way it could meet the City Manager’s “unreasonable” demand.

Not letting a good crisis go to waste, the union’s political machine quickly printed flyers, sent out emails and walked the streets on an unrelenting campaign to scare residents into believing that their lives were in serious danger from rampant and unchecked crime.  The propaganda included pleas for the residents to contact their representatives at City Hall and tell them that they are outraged and want to keep the Police Department intact.  The media, of course, was contacted and the press went into overdrive, reporters falling all over themselves to get the scoop.  Sensationalized headlines such as “NMB may fire 20 percent of police force,” “North Miami Beach Police Jobs May Be on the Line,” “Chief Fired, Layoffs Looming in North Miami Beach,” were splashed across newspapers and television screens.  In the tradition of Saul Alynsky’s Rules for Radicals, first create a crisis, then demonize the “perpetrator,” incite a class war, then benefit from the fallout.  Yes, the spin was on. Continue reading

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The Court Jester of NMB!

Tonight the City of North Miami Beach held the first of many budget workshops.  It was just about eleven months ago that we had our last round of budget workshops, when the former city manager Kelvin Baker went postal, threatened the Council to leave him alone and called the NAACP because he was black.  Actually, it was because he caught wind that he might be fired and he wanted it on record that if he was fired it had nothing to do with his incompetence but everything to do with the fact that he was black.  Luckily, the Council didn’t notice he was black and fired him anyway.

That budget workshop, held on August 25, 2010, was actually the reason I started this blog.  Turns out, it wasn’t even a budget workshop, but one of the early episodes of the now famous Rosner & Baker Show, Rosner being the recently ousted former mayor of NMB, good ol’ Myron.  That meeting turned out to be a freaking circus and the “budget” for the fiscal year 2010/2011 that was barely passed turned out to be a complete joke.  Hard to believe how much has changed since then. Continue reading

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Spelling Counts!

Some people warned me that if I spoke my mind about unions there would be repercussions.  They also warned me that no matter how much I supported our North Miami Beach Police Department, in word and deed, there would be some officers who can’t separate themselves from the union and attack me anyway.  Apparently, in the minds of some people there is no place for opinions other than their own.  While I have no problem with people who tell me they disagree with me and give examples of why they believe I’m wrong, as long as they want to engage in intelligent discussion I’m always open to new ideas.  Several have written to me and offered food for thought.  While you cannot change actual facts, opinions are not written in stone and can be changed based on experience and circumstance.  Mine included.

One cop calling himself “nmbblue,” however, sent in a really vicious comment and he was in full attack mode.  He wrote:

“your hypocracy is laughable and sad.  your husband is making a mint from his union negotiated pension isnt he?  why dont you attack his union and leave ours alone hypocrit.  your no friend of ours so please dont try amd make yourself out to be one.  also concerned creole speaking residents brought that issue to light not the union.  maybe your the racist here because obviously you have no concern for our creole speaking community.  we need those creole speaking officers.  not only for the fact that they speak creole but for the fact that they are all good officers.  please dont speak about matters that you are completely ignorant of.  you just make a fool of yourself.  just a thought from one “friend” to another.”

I have to tell you this was so disturbing that I tossed and turned all night long.  I really must respond with some questions and comments for “nmbblue.”  First of all, I just have to ask…  Did they really let you graduate high school with such atrocious spelling? Continue reading

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