November 3rd, 2009

Mr. mayor-elect; the city manager needs to go 0

By Carlos Miller


Nobody is surprised that Miami City Commissioner Tomas Regalado was elected mayor on Tuesday.

But some of us will be surprised if he keeps his promises.

In an election that only drew 20 percent of the registered voters in Miami, Regalado beat his opponent Joe Sanchez in a landslide victory, 72 percent to 28 percent.

Now we’ll see if he does follow through on his promises of shaking up city hall, including firing Miami Police Chief John Timoney, who has not only lost the respect of the citizens after driving a free Lexus for a year, but has lost the respect of his officers, if you believe police union officials.

However, the mayor does not have the authority to fire the police chief. Only the city manager does.

But the mayor does has the authority to fire the city manager. Regalado hasn’t said whether he would fire City Manager Pete Hernandez.

But it’s the first thing he should do.

Earlier this year, Hernandez retained Miami Civilian Investigative Panel Executive Director Shirley Richardson after she was fired for incompetence.

He turned her into an assistant to an assistant, allowing her to retain her pension and her $168,000-a-year salary.

Last month, he reinstated her back to the Civilian Investigative Panel as an investigator, even though she has absolutely no investigative experience and couldn’t even handle her bureaucratic position of overseeing the agency that is supposed to keep police misconduct in check.

In the process, the city fired 30-year police veteran Steve Wolf from his job as chief investigator, a man who was actually trying to clean up the Miami Police Department.

Wolf has since filed a whistleblower claim against the city.

So naturally most of us are wondering what exactly does Richardson have on Hernandez that possesses him to abuse his authority so blatantly.

And some of us are wondering if Regalado will terminate the cancer that has made a mockery of city hall.

November 2nd, 2009

Man charged with disorderly conduct for photographing women in public 0

By Carlos Miller


An Illinois man who enjoys secretly taking pictures of women walking to their cars in public parking lots was arrested for disorderly conduct last week.

Ronald Witt, 45, has been doing this for years because he was arrested for the same thing in 2006 although it is not clear if he was convicted for that arrest.

When police searched his home after his most recent arrest, they found more than 80 photos of various women walking through various parking lots.

How police get to search his home on a disorderly conduct charge is beyond me.

And while his behavior may seem creepy, anti-social and obsessive, is it illegal?

That might be up to a judge because the Illinois law states that “a person commits disorderly conduct when he knowingly does any act in such unreasonable manner as to alarm or disturb another and to provoke a breach of the peace.”

So it boils down to whether a judge believes the act of taking pictures in public is acting in an “unreasonable manner” because it is evident he alarmed the women he photographed because he also followed them.

According to the local new report:

A woman called Deerfield police Oct. 6 to say she was being stalked. She said that three different times in recent days she had seen a man sitting in his car and watching her walk to her vehicle after work.

According to the police report, Witt followed the woman out of a parking lot and onto Lake Cook Road, and the woman feared for her safety. The next time Witt allegedly followed the woman, Deerfield officers followed him

When officers pulled him over, they found a camera and asked him what he was using it for.

“Something I should not have been doing,” he allegedly told the officer.

But did the woman have any expectation of privacy as they were walking to their cars in the public parking lots.

Of course they did not.

November 2nd, 2009

I no longer work at NBC Miami 0

By Carlos Miller
Two months before I was fired, I received this Certificate of Appreciation along with a $100 bonus.

Two months before I was fired, I received this Certificate of Appreciation along with a $100 bonus.


Jobs are like women: they come and they go. Sometimes you get lucky and find a perfect match. Usually you don’t but stick it out until someone calls it quits.

Well NBC Miami called it quits on me last Monday. After such a short relationship, I was left perplexed.

They said I was more of a field worker than an office worker, which is what the job entailed. And they are right.

I am a journalist. A reporter who prefers to go out and get the story rather than rewrite somebody else’s story, which is what the job entailed.

I like to develop sources by meeting people face to face. I like to be on the scene of breaking news, snapping photos, shooting video and asking questions. But that is not what the job entailed.

Nevertheless, I liked my job at NBC. I liked the people I worked with. I liked the opportunity to improve their site. And I think I did.

They wanted multimedia stories, I gave them multimedia stories. Something the other NBC Miami reporters do not do.

When the streets of South Beach were flooded after an intense storm, I walked through waist-deep water for several blocks shooting photos and video and getting interviews.

When right-wing Cubans clashed with moderate Cubans at Versailles over the Juanes concert, I immersed myself in the protest for several hours – and spent the entire night editing photos and writing a story – resulting in a multimedia package the following morning that prompted personal compliments from the big boss in New York.

I did this after working an eight-hour shift that Sunday afternoon.

When a group of local food bloggers organized a pizza crawl, I covered it with video, photos and an article, bringing mainstream media exposure to the South Florida blogosphere.

When an 83-year-old pilot landed his plane on the expressway, I was the only reporter to interview him because he became shy and hid in the car when the television reporters got there.

I showed up after they left and got him to talk to me as well as pose in front of his airplane for a photo. That story generated thousands of page views and hundreds of comments after it was posted on The Drudge Report (the comments were all lost during NBC Miami’s redesign transition).

Also, when they were unable to persuade a newsroom videographer to work after midnight to shoot bars and lounges for their Golden Local awards, I agreed to shoot the videos myself, which were broadcast on NBC-6′s television news segments.

I even received a Certificate of Appreciation along with a $100 bonus for the work I did during the redesign transition a couple of months back.

They also wanted stories written with “outrage” and a “point of view”, which is how they described it in their stylebook. Well I gave them that too.

But perhaps I was a little too outraged. A little too opinionated.

At least one local police department called my editor and complained. I thought I was just following the stylebook, but then my boss told me my articles are coming across too much like editorials.

And she was right. But what do you expect when you encourage reporters to write with “outrage” and a “point of view”?

So I toned the outrage and point of view down. And I continually suggested that they allow me get out of the office to write more original stories, but they preferred I stayed in the office to rewrite stories from other news sites.

And on weekends that can be tough because it can be kind of slow. Local newspaper newsrooms are not fully staffed. And neither is the NBC-6 newsroom.

Plus, they also discouraged what they called “low-brow crime stories”, which is what makes up most of the news on weekends.

During the week, the NBC Miami team has the advantage of fully staffed newsrooms at the local newspapers and at NBC-6. The morning reporter also has the advantage that he can focus on rewriting stories because the editor is posting these stories and other stories.

But I had to do all that myself on weekends.

Perhaps their decision had something to do with Bill Cooke of Random Pixels calling them a multitude of times and complaining about me.

That’s the kind of guy he is. The kid who punches you first on the playground, then runs crying to the teacher when you punch him back.

He has called me everything from a “cockroach and boil on the ass of journalism” to an “asshole” with “arrogant, crass, thug-like behavior.”

Yet when I called him a “grouchy old prick” on his blog once (a comment he never approved), he called my boss at NBC to complain.

Perhaps I should not have called him that, but I figured that anybody who can be so vile in his comments would be able to handle a few verbal jabs.

That’s usually the way it is in the blogosphere. For example, Rick of the South Florida Daily Blog called me an “arrogant prick” on his then-active Stuck on the Palmetto blog after I got arrested And this is a guy who doesn’t even allow profanity on his current blog.

How did I respond? I launched this blog and dedicated a post to him. I fight words with words.

That is what I expected Bill to do. Instead, he tattled on me.

After receiving his complaint, my boss called me and told me not to comment on anything related to NBC Miami that Bill wrote on his blog. And I agreed.

But two days later, I couldn’t resist dedicating a post to him that revealed his hypocrisy when he insulted local publicist Tara Solomon, then removed the post after he photographed her for the Miami New Times. It had nothing to do with NBC Miami, so I figured I was safe. And I admit I did so because I was upset that he had called my boss and tattled on me.

So the following morning he called my boss again. Then he called her boss. And finally he called NBC human resources in New York.

That’s the kind of guy he is.

And I know what you’re saying, I should have just ignored him. But I’ve never been one to bite my tongue.

NBC’s human resources department was unsure how to handle this. There is nothing in their employee policy that addresses personal blogs. You can bet there will be now.

So I was told I had to apologize to him. For what, I really don’t know because everything I said about him was true.

But I did apologize because as I said, I liked my job. And I wanted to keep it.

But jobs are like women. You never know when they are going to have a change of heart.

Just over a week after I called him and apologized, I was fired.

Fortunately, I have my media business to fall back on. I have enough regular clients to keep me afloat and hopefully I will receive some donations to my Legal Defense Fund, which allows me to pay off those legal bills that maxed out all of my credit cards.

But having a regular gig with a regular paycheck was nice, so I have my eyes open for any positions at companies that would appreciate my skills. I take journalism very seriously. I am very passionate about my work. And I always give it more than 100 percent.

Here is my resume in case any potential employers are interested in a multimedia journalist who can write, takes photos and shoot videos. I am a new media journalist with an old media background. I have 14 years of professional experience.

I hold no resentment against NBC Miami. I am grateful that they gave me the opportunity in the first place. They took a chance on me and I will always appreciate that.

And I hold no resentment against Bill Cooke, even though he is probably gleeful at the news of me losing my job. That’s just the kind of guy he is.

“Journalism can never be silent: that is its greatest virtue and its greatest fault. It must speak, and speak immediately, while the echoes of wonder, the claims of triumph and the signs of horror are still in the air.” Henry Anatole Grunwald

“I have spent half my life trying to get away from journalism, but I am still mired in it — a low trade and a habit worse than heroin, a strange seedy world full of misfits and drunkards and failures.” Hunter S. Thompson

“Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.” Thomas Jefferson

-30-

I am a multimedia journalist who has been fighting a lengthy legal battle after having photographed Miami police against their wishes in Feb. 2007. Please help the fight by donating to my Legal Defense Fund in the top left sidebar, which helps pay for the thousands of dollars I’ve acrued in debt since my arrest. To keep updated on the latest articles, join my networks at Facebook, Twitter and Friendfeed.

November 1st, 2009

Cop gets suspended without pay for citing mayor's son 0

By Carlos Miller


Cops are allowed to shoot unarmed people at point blank range. They are allowed to stick tasers up people’s asses. And as we all know, they are allowed to arrest photographers whenever they feel like it.

Usually the worst that happens to them is that they get suspended with pay for a few days.

But in Stockton, Utah, they are not allowed to pull over the mayor’s son for a traffic violation.

That would get them suspended without pay.

When was the last time you heard of a cop getting suspended without pay?

Cpl. Joshua Rowell told KSL News he was just doing his job. He said he acted professionally when he wrote the driver a ticket and was shocked when he was suddenly asked to hand over his badge.

Rowell is a new member of the five-man Stockton police force. So, last Tuesday he didn’t think twice about pulling over a driver in a small white car for avoiding a DUI stop.

“He didn’t have a driver’s license, so I issued him a citation for that,” Rowell explained.

He didn’t think twice, that is, until he handed the ticket to the court clerk.

“She looked at it and said, ‘Hey, you know you just gave the mayor’s son a ticket?’ And I said, ‘Oh, crap,’” Rowell said.

Considering this all took place in Utah, I wonder what would happen if the mayor’s son tried to rap his order through a McDonald’s drive-thru.

October 30th, 2009

Utah teens cited after rapping their order through a McDonald's drive-thru 1

By Carlos Miller




And in today’s story out of the Twilight Zone, that state the rest of the country calls Utah, a group of teens were cited for disorderly conduct for rapping their order through a McDonald’s drive-thru microphone.

It was part of a nationwide phenomenon among teens. Even Taco Bell has caught on to the trend in one of its commercials.

But people are a little bit more sheltered in Utah. The McDonald’s employee couldn’t understand what they were ordering and told them to talk normal, but they kept rapping.

This prompted the manager to walk outside and order them to leave, but not before he took note of their license plate.

This is where the Twilight Zone music begins.

Rather than laugh in the face of the manager after being told what the teens did, the officers set out on a mission to track them down. They eventually found them at a high school parking lot watching a volleyball game.

The teens were each cited for disorderly conduct right there in front of their peers.

McDonald’s said it had no choice but to refuse them service because there is no telling what would they want to do next. Perhaps an armed robbery while rapping?

The owner-operator of the McDonald’s said in a statement that the issue was about employees’ safety at the restaurant in American Fork, about 30 miles south of Salt Lake City.

“The employee in question felt that her safety was at risk as a result of the alleged actions of these individuals in the drive-thru, not as a result of them rapping their order,” franchisee Conny Kramer said in the statement. “As such, she contacted the local authorities.”

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