Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Privacy issues need to be addressed, Miami Daily Business Review, Jan. 29, 2007

This is a corrected and expanded version of a posting South Beach Hoosier originally made in late January on his other blog, , following a letter he'd written ace Daily Business Review reporter Julie Kay.

Subject: RE: re your 6-29 DBR story; illegal disclosure/sale of arrest data by FDLE;
Date: Thu, 18 Jan 2007 16:01:36 -0500
From: "Julie Kay"

Thanks for your kind words. Yes, I knew about Channel 4 taking that story as well as the New York Times (did you see that one?) Guess I’m getting used to that from “the big boys.”

Look forward to reading your blogs.


I was pleased to see that January 29th's Daily Business Review, ran my Letter to the Editor titled "Privacy issues need to be addressed," an excerpted version of my January 18th letter to the DBR:

Subject: re your 6-29 DBR story; illegal disclosure/sale of arrest data by FDLE;
To: "Julie Kay"
CC: "Forrest Newman", "Donald J. Hayden", "Allan Sullivan", "Effie Silva"

Thursday January 18th, 2007

Dear Ms. Kay:

My letter to you today is actually long overdue, as I had planned on congratulating you earlier, before the end of the year, on the consistently great job you did last year of covering what passes for the South Florida legal system in the Daily Business Review, and imbuing your stories with the proper amount of anger, enthusiasm and curiosity -and incredulity- for the peculiar way things have of sorting themselves out here, regardless of any actual law, statute or precedent.
Or, of course, common sense.

While much attention was paid to your recent stories on the 'missing' court records of judges/elected officials -and what passes around here for celebrities and VIPs- who surely must've preferred those records of theirs existing in some parallel universe, where the curious public couldn't discern their content, the story you wrote that most impressed me was actually your June 29th DBR story titled, "Legal Boomerang," on Broward County and the state of Florida continuing to sell expunged legal case data to private firms for their own databases, though they're not supposed to do so.

Perhaps you've already heard about it by this late date, but on the chance that you haven't, the day your story ran, CBS-4 led it's 6 p.m. Local News with that same exact story, down to the point of interviewing the very same person you interviewed for the majority of your insightful anecdotes, without reporter Mike Kirsch ever giving you or the Daily Business Review proper credit/attribution for the story.

I wrote a draft of a note to you about that slight that night on my computer, but I regret to say that I never finished it, much less mailed it, and for that I'm sorry, since I really hate seeing a reporter, esp. a TV reporter, get credit for hard journalistic leg-work they didn't actually perform.

That feeling became particularly ingrained in me during the 15 years I lived in D.C. from 1988-2003, because so many media friends of mine, esp. at the Washington bureau of the New York Times, who'd regale me at ballgames, movies or over hot dogs across the street from their office at a favorite hot dog stand of ours during breaks, with instances of having discovered, after-the-fact, clear-cut examples of out-of-town reporters using their stories as a paint-by-numbers primer for stories that small town reporters couldn't previously get a handle on.
Clearly, that's not the smartest move to make in the era of the Internet and search able databases.

For what it's worth, Kirsch added absolutely zero to your original story, not even bothering to supplement his version of your story with additional interviews with other parties, just to cover his bases.
Nope, it was strictly paint-by-numbers; your numbers.
Since that initial report back in June, I haven't taken anything Kirsch says seriously, since I now have a clear sense of what he's capable of.

Maybe he should stick to doing stories on 'hot' new celeb-filled boutiques or trendy restaurants on South Beach, that way, there's no real public harm or misrepresentation.
In the three years since I returned to South Florida from DC, I've had to reconcile myself to lots of changes to this area, many of them for the good, of course, but just as many for the bad I'm afraid.
Not that things before in local/state govt. or local legal circles were so rosy and on the level, of course, since I know that clearly wasn't the case.

To cite but one common sense example that I'm constantly dealing with, given the number of years that it was a living traffic hell, finally having a flyover at Biscayne Blvd. & NE 199th Street only proves that it should've been done years before there was the large population base in what is now Aventura, and what everyone in my part of NMB near 163rd Street, just called Turnberry.
Still, it's hard now to over-state how much better the traffic flow in that area is compared to what it was before, much less when there was no flyover or Lehman Causeway.
Not that it's a picnic now!

To me, one of the most unpleasant changes has been the dramatic loosening of local TV news journalism standards from when I was growing up down here in the '70's & early '80's, with anchors like Ralph Renick & Ann Bishop -or sharp folks like Gene Miller at The Miami Herald- who while perhaps considered cool and imperious to some viewers, to me always seemed to convey a real sense they DID have the viewer's best interests at heart, which was reporting the news straight up and letting the facts guide the story, rather than cover stories with hidden agendas, in order to appease the myriad business/ethnic/cultural interest groups, in both Miami and Ft. Lauderdale, who are STILL sensitive to even the slightest criticism, constructive or otherwise.

Renick and Bishop's success in achieving that goal was reflected by both their enduring popularity, and, I suppose, by the fact that people like me who grew up here, still bring their names up to suggest a sense of contrast with the sorry present state of affairs.

So with your own story, for instance, back then, reporters with a nose for news like Ike Seamans, Brian Ross, Susan Candiotti and a few other consistently enterprising types -so many of whom went national- would have at least had the good common sense to give proper credit or a hat tip to you and the DBR at the outset, before adding some additional facts and context to the story that were uniquely their own contribution.

It's shocking how many of the local TV reporters -excepting the exceptional few, like Glenna Milberg, Michael Putney and Michelle Gillen and a handful of others- now can't even be bothered to pretend to do that.
Then again, maybe after three years of being back here, I should stop being so easily shocked, huh?

Starting roughly around 1979, when I'd return to South Florida from school or work in Bloomington, Evanston, and DC, for visits during Christmas and spring break, or even Baltimore Oriole spring training trips or weekend weddings, I could still see that Miami had the kind of scrappy and innately curious reporters who make a real difference in a community.
Frankly, the sorts of reporters that so many of my friends at Ernie Pyle at IU and Medill at Northwestern aspired to emulate by making a positive contribution.

Reporters who had the talent & ability to convey to the waves and waves of newcomers to the area, who were without a sense of South Florida's very mixed past, the proper amount of perspective and sense of disbelief, before dropping the hammer on whichever corrupt/incompetent/miscreant elected pol or agency hack was the target zone, for attempting to perpetrate something of a dubious nature.

Even while watching the local TV news out of Indianapolis or Washington, D.C., while clearly recognizing that there were a handful of TV reporters of the sort who'd be good no matter what city they were based in, I always had the sense that, in general, the reporter culture in those cities lacked the kind of focused energy and zeal I'd seen down here, which was their town's loss.

(I even mentioned this particular thought of mine to CNN's Larry King once at an American Cancer Society Ball in DC, around '89, that I was involved with helping put on, with Larry being honored as the guest of honor.
While I know that many people often laugh at Larry's own unique brand of infotainment and news, that night at the Hilton Towers, while his then-wife and my date were being photographed with friends and various DC celebs like Al Haig and former FBI Director William Webster, Larry and I stood in a corner for about ten minutes or so reminiscing about Miami, mostly about local radio and TV personalities.

We talked back and forth about the great sense of competition that once existed among the Miami TV stations, and between the Herald and the late, great Miami News, where I had a number of friends in the sports and entertainment departments.
We lamented that the kind of rough but honest competition we both knew of down here, which really pushed reporters, often seemed lacking now, despite how counter-intuitive that seemed. And that was 17 years ago.)

But now? Well, it seems that the low TV standards that I saw elsewhere and have read about and followed for years in myriad media journals, blogs and newspapers, have found a home-sweet-home right here.
And as for my my own clearly antiquated and sentimental notions of what Channel 4's journalism is, based on years of Renick and his successors, and being part of Walter Mondale's advance team in '76 and accompanying him to their old studio downtown for an interview, where I recognized nearly every single reporter's face I saw in the hallway -and actually knew their assigned beat?
Well, I guess I thought the news management at Channel 4 had slightly higher standards for what's considered news and what passes for ethics than what appears to be the case.
C'est la vie.

Your June story dovetailed perfectly with the great DBR cover stories that your colleague Forrest Newman had last Monday, "Crusading for Confidentiality" -Activist Cathy Corry and others fight to block state disclosure of juvenile misdemeanor records- and last Tuesday, "FDLE sued over online access to juvenile arrest data", which to me, really calls into question many basic aspects of what the public should expect of the County Board and state legislature's oversight capacity, when it seems as if FDLE and individual counties can just wink at the law, as if they had a grandfather's clause permitting them to opt out of operating on the up-and-up.

Your colleague Forrest really lucked out by not only having a very compelling story, but one with a great hook at its heart, too, since nearly everyone with a semblance of a heart can understand it perfectly: the arrest record of a 13-year old girl who once (foolishly) shoplifted a can of Coke suddenly appearing online -with the state of Florida profitting from it- and her family's very reasonable fear that the online info about her will never truly disappear, thus branding their daughter forever.

I really commend the three attorneys at Baker & McKenzie for pushing back and putting the FDLE in their place, and demanding a degree of accountability from them that I have yet to see since I returned to South Florida.
I know I'm not the only resident of South Florida who thinks it's long overdue!

In the future, rest assured, you can definitely count on me to give you a a head's up if somebody else in South Florida's journalism fraternity tries to rustle up your ideas and word verbatim.
I'll do so via two new baby blogs that I hope to have up and running next week, which I hope you'll check out for yourself every now and then.

The first one, SouthBeachHoosier, will focus on the very things that most concerned me when I was still living and working in Washington: national politics from a DLC point-of-view, business news and innovation, the world of entertainment with a focus on the business side of show biz, foreign policy, latest doings in South Beach and, of course, sports, with heavy emphasis on analysis of my Indiana Hoosiers, as well as the Hurricanes.

I'll also offer tons of heaping media criticism at some local/national people and organizations who've heretofore escaped both accountability & brickbats.
That will definitely be changing.

My second blog, HallandaleBeachBlog, which perhaps be of more interest to you, will be focused on South Florida public policy, and the sorts of of endemic cronyism, corruption and incompetency I see in local, county and state government on a regular basis in my part of Broward County, especially with regard to governance, public safety & development.
Not that I'll ignore any antics in Miami-Dade or the rest of the state.

In the past, an enterprising local TV reporter might've addressed these matters of concern to me, which while affecting tens of thousands of people on a daily basis, currently go unexamined.
Nowadays, that same reporter is assigned to go to a Mall and report on either holiday shopping tips or trends/fads among the seemingly endless armies of affluent teens of our area.

Maybe it's me, but I keep thinking of Jane Fonda's character in The China Syndrome, Kimberly Wells, forever banished to covering cute human interest stories before stumbling upon a great story by accident. At least WSVN/Channel 7's Deco Drive, one of my secret vices, is totally upfront about what it's reporting on, and doesn't put on airs.

Just to mention one story that cries out for examination, given the amount of tax money involved, how come the patently false financial numbers offered up by Nikki Grossman of the Greater Ft. Lauderdale CVB as proof of the financial impact on the area of hosting the Super Bowl, or even more egregious, the Orioles staying in Ft. Lauderdale for spring training?
They are never put up to anything even resembling basic fact-checking scrutiny, much less, oh, forensic accounting.

Before I go, let me relate a 9/11 anecdote that gives you some sort of insight into me, so you can consider the source of this letter.
As I mentioned earlier, I lived for about 15 years in DC, and while there, worked on behalf of some of the top law firms and business groups in town, doing all sorts of thing on both Capitol Hill and along the K Street corridor, and was fortunate to meet and befriend lots of very talented and impressive people.

On 9/11, I was working on a project for Crowell & Moring, in a wonderfully appointed office right across the street from the FBI & DOJ, and next to the Naval Memorial.
After the initial reports of the attack on the Pentagon, from our vantage point on the large patio overlooking Pennsylvania Avenue, we could see past the Old Post Office across the street, and could clearly see the smoke rising up from the Pentagon to our southwest.

Being equidistant to both the White House and the Capitol, once we got word to evacuate the building because a plane within range of DC still hadn't been accounted for -what we would all later all know as United Flight 93-I decided to forego playing the role of a sardine in a can on the Metro, and walked the 7-plus miles to my place in north Arlington, mostly via K Street.
When I got a few blocks away from the office and was near Metro Center, whom do you suppose I walked right into, but the one man, whom, IF things had fallen differently, might've played a much larger role that tragic day.

(FYI: As I walked and walked, it was while listening on my Sony AM/FM/TV portable radio, via ABC News' Good Morning America, that I first learned that some of the planes involved had departed out of Boston's Logan Airport. That news made my heart sink, and made the walk home seem far longer than it normally would, since one of my former housemates in Arlington, Jennifer Dugan, a sweet and adorable Univ. of Rhode Island grad, was a flight attendant for US Airways working out of Logan.)

That man was George Terwilliger,
then of the DC office of McGuire, Woods, Battle & Boothe LLP, whom I knew from 1627 Eye Street, the location of the New York Times DC bureau, who's now at WhiteCase.
He's the person whom much of the Washington press corps thought was the likely first choice to be President Bush's FBI Director, and a person that many of my friends in the building had an enormous amount of respect and admiration for, even if they disagreed with him politically.
When I saw him in passing on the sidewalk, with a pensive look on his face, all I could think to myself was, "Be careful what you wish for!"

Miami Daily Business Review
Legal boomerang
Julie Kay
June 29, 2006

In 1999, a 20-year old college student was arrested for petty theft in Miami-Dade County after stealing a shirt from J.C. Penney.
Like most first-time offenders, the young man completed a pretrial diversionary program, performed community service, paid a fine and got his case dismissed. The record was expunged. He never got into any more trouble with the law.
Seven years later, the man applied for a job and was turned down.
Curious about why, he checked his record on Westlaw, an Eagan, Minn.-based legal database company, and was shocked to find that the supposedly expunged record of his misdemeanor appeared on Westlaw's widely available computerized database. He immediately called his lawyer, Kenneth Hassett of Miami.
Hassett told the client, who did not want to be identified for this article, what he tells many of his clients who have called him with the same complaint - that the computerized record systems of the Miami-Dade clerk of courts, Florida Department of Corrections and Florida Department of Law Enforcement are "not secure" and that expungement has become meaningless.
"In the electronic and Internet age, sealing or expunging in many cases just doesn't exist," he said.
The Miami-Dade County Enterprise Technology Services Department sells criminal records information to four data mining companies, including Atlanta-based ChoicePoint, the largest provider of data information in the country. The other three are Seisent, Court Venture and First American SafeRent.
The records sold include daily electronic bulletins of jail bookings and a biweekly file of all defendants charged with felonies or misdemeanors, according to Ronald Feingold, a county systems analyst.
Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Stanford Blake, administrative head of the court's criminal division, said it is inappropriate for the county to sell information about cases that were supposed to be expunged.
"I don't think we should be in that business," Blake said. He urged any attorneys who have had this experience to call him.
Miami-Dade Chief Judge Joseph P. Farina Jr. did not return a phone call Wednesday seeking comment. But court spokeswoman Eunice Sigler said, "The 11th Judicial Circuit itself does not sell court records. We do not feel it is appropriate to comment on the alleged practices of another branch of government or governmental entity."
Miami-Dade Clerk of the Courts Harvey Ruvin declined to comment.
Responding to complaints
Hassett's client is not alone in encountering this problem of expunged records becoming public. Criminal defense attorneys, privacy rights experts and civil rights lawyers in Miami and elsewhere say they're increasingly concerned that data mining companies are obtaining and posting criminal records of juveniles and adults that were supposed to be expunged from official records.
"This is becoming a problem," Miami criminal defense attorney Michael Catalano said in a recent mass e-mail to members of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. "These companies know so much about our clients, so sealing and expunging does not mean it 'goes away.' Something needs to be done about this."
Feingold said he did not know whether data mining companies like ChoicePoint remove expunged or sealed files from their databases later. "We have no authority to force them to do that," he said.
John Shaughnessy, senior director of corporate communications at Westlaw, said that in Miami-Dade, Westlaw buys information about criminal records from a third-party "aggregate" company, which obtains it directly from the courthouse.
Some South Florida criminal defense lawyers and privacy rights experts expressed outrage over the release of supposedly expunged and sealed criminal records.
"This is extremely concerning," said Sherwin Siy, staff counsel at the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington, D.C. "A fundamental part of the justice system is the allowance of expungement as a chance for a clean start. If records are being sold to data brokers, that undermines that. There shouldn't be a stigma that follows your for the rest of your life."
"That is absolutely a violation of peoples' privacy rights and unconstitutional," said Lida Rodriguez, a partner at Duane Morris in Miami and a past president of the ACLU of Miami. "The county should not be selling records, especially expunged records, for a profit. This is another example of why the government cannot be trusted to keep records private, whether it be phone records or bank records."
But others say that, in the age of computerized data bases and the Internet, no one should have any expectation of privacy about their records. "You can never get rid of data," said Robert Jarvis, a law professor at Nova Southeastern University. "Anybody who thinks that information once created goes off and dies is kidding themselves."
Juvenile records at risk
Under Florida statute, first-time offenders committing misdemeanors and certain nonviolent felonies such as third-degree theft can enter a pretrial diversion program. After attending classes, paying a fine and sometimes performing community service, a defendant can ask the judge to dismiss the case and expunge his or her criminal record. The request is usually granted.
Files can also be sealed - which means they are not destroyed but stored by the clerk's office and closed with tape - if a first-time offender enters a plea and the judge withholds adjudication.
Expunging or sealing records are thought of as ways to wipe the slate clean for young people who get into minor legal scrapes such as marijuana possession, petty theft or vandalism. Expungement means that the stigma of having a criminal record does not follow them throughout their lives and hurt their chances of finding employment, obtaining credit, getting a lease or a mortgage, or even gaining U.S. citizenship.
All states have similar provisions for expunging criminal records. But Florida's open records laws give data mining companies greater access to more records than they have in other states, said Carlos Martinez, Miami's chief assistant public defender.
Criminal defense lawyers say they are increasingly hearing from clients who complain that even though their cases were officially expunged, they are being repeatedly turned down for jobs on the basis of their criminal records . When the clients check their history on legal databases such as Westlaw, they discover that their criminal record still shows up.
Carlos Martinez, the Miami-Dade chief assistant public defender, said the problem has grown in the last six months as employers and landlords increasingly turn to database companies such as ChoicePoint and Westlaw for background checks. Both he and Hassett have met with court and county officials in an effort to resolve the problem.
The problem, according to the two defense lawyers, is that while the clerk of the courts is the official keeper of court files, the county has won the battle to become the keeper of electronic court records.
Martinez said he's particularly concerned about the security of juvenile records, and his office is proposing state legislation to maintain the privacy of those records. The bill did not make it out of committee this year.
Some attorneys are considering a different way to solve the problem - through class action litigation. Strategy sessions have been held and the lawyers are looking for a good defendant to lead the class, someone who was injured by the incorrect posting of expunged records on a data base.
Companies respond
Miami criminal defense attorney David Edelstein said he has come up with an effective way of dealing with expunged criminal cases that show up on ChoicePoint databases. He faxes the court expungement order to ChoicePoint and the company removes all criminal references for that individual. "They've been cooperative," he said.
In the case of Hassett's 20-year-old client, however, Hassett said Westlaw refused to change its record without getting a verification of the expungement directly from the court.
Westlaw's Shaughnessy said that if a person has a complaint about an expunged record showing up in the Westlaw database, the person should call Westlaw, which will remove the information provided there is "reasonable confirmation," such as the judicial expungement order.
Mitchell Gersten, business information officer of data services for ChoicePoint, said his company collects criminal records from two sources around the country - the administrative office of the courts and departments of corrections. In some counties around the country, the company pays for the information, while in other counties the information is freely available, he said.
Gersten acknowledged some problems arising from delays in receiving updated information from courts, including information about expungements. "It takes a period of time, depending on the court, for the changes to roll up to us," he said. "There are definitely inefficiencies or cases where the courts do not communicate effectively."
For that reason, he said, ChoicePoint has established a formal consumer dispute process by which individuals can contest information on their records. ChoicePoint promises to quickly investigate the matter and correct any errors. But by then, damage can already be done.
ChoicePoint spokesman Chuck Jones acknowledged that the company has been sued by individuals who claimed they suffered damage as a result of inaccurate criminal background information provided by ChoicePoint. He did not provide details on the cases.
Until a solution is found, attorney Michael Catalano said he counsels clients that in applying for jobs, apartment leases, or any filling out any applications that ask for an arrest record, they should probably disclose any arrest - even if the case record was expunged.
"In the days before the Internet, they could tell people they were never arrested," he said. "But today, the rule is to disclose."

Editor's note: Westlaw, a subject of this story, and ALM Media Inc., parent of the Daily Business Review, recently entered into a five-year content exchange agreement.

Julie Kay can be reached at or at (954) 468-2622.
COPYRIGHT 2007 American Lawyer Media L.P.
Miami Daily Business Review
FDLE sued over online access to juvenile arrest data
Forrest Norman
January 9, 2007

A Miami couple is asking a judge to force the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to remove their teenage daughter's arrest record for stealing a can of Coca-Cola from its publicly accessible, online database.
The record details the Oct. 15, 2006, arrest of then 13-year-old G.G. for shoplifting. It was the girl's first arrest. Her parents' names were not included in the complaint.
The complaint, filed in Miami-Dade Circuit Court by attorneys Don Hayden, Allan Sullivan and Effie Silva of Baker & McKenzie in Miami, asks for a declaratory judgment stating that FDLE's publication of the arrest record is a violation of a Florida statute requiring that minors' misdemeanor records be kept confidential. The suit also seeks a writ of prohibition preventing the agency from publishing or selling the record.
"The defendant's act of selling the juvenile's criminal record has harmed her as a result of being made public to anyone willing to pay a fee to acquire the information and will continue to cause harm to the juvenile by jeopardizing her future with respect to job applications, college admissions, and her credit ratings," the complaint states.
"Once it's out there, it's out there, and that can permanently harm someone's life," Hayden said in an interview. "No one is arguing that violent criminals or juveniles should be coddled. But this little girl is accused of stealing a soda, which she may not even have done."
FDLE spokeswoman Heather Smith wrote in an e-mail to the Daily Business Review that FDLE received $52.7 million from fees for criminal histories. "The fees are established by state statute and they go to support the cost of operating that program area (receiving, reviewing, compiling, maintaining, sealing/expunging, updating and disseminating criminal history records)," Smith wrote. She declined to comment on the suit.
FDLE publishes and sells juvenile criminal histories on its Internet site, along with criminal records of adults. As reported Monday in the Daily Business Review, the Miami-Dade County public defender's office is challenging the publication of juvenile misdemeanor information.
Florida Statutes Section 985.04(2) generally makes juvenile criminal records confidential unless the minor is arrested on a felony or has three or more misdemeanors.
If the court rules in favor of the plaintiff, FDLE could be forced to change the way it handles juvenile criminal records, Hayden said.
FDLE officials, however, defend their public disclosure of juvenile misdemeanor records. In a letter to the Miami-Dade Criminal Justice Council in October, FDLE general counsel Michael Ramage argued that "all juvenile criminal history information compiled or maintained by FDLE is a public record under Florida law regardless of whether the criminal history information pertains to a felony or a misdemeanor."
He cited Section 943.053(3)(a), which generally says that criminal histories provided by other Florida law enforcement agencies to the FDLE are public information and that FDLE can sell that information. Some employers also want access to such information on the grounds that it is valuable in doing employee background checks.
The Miami-Dade public defender's office has drafted legislation to block publication of juvenile misdemeanor records. Carlos Martinez, the chief assistant public defender in Miami, said FDLE's practice of posting juvenile arrest records on their Web site and selling them for $23 is in conflict with Florida law.
Traditionally, since the first juvenile court was started in Chicago in 1899, juvenile proceedings and court records were kept confidential. The philosophy was that juveniles were children who needed treatment and rehabilitation in order to become productive, law-abiding adults. Therefore, the thinking went, they should not be punished or stigmatized for their juvenile misconduct.
In Florida, juvenile court proceedings still are kept confidential, and most news media outlets generally refrain from publishing the names of juveniles charged with crimes.
But as public fears about violent crimes committed by juveniles mounted in the 1980s and 1990s, some of those protections have been rolled back. Criminal histories and arrest records of juveniles accused of violent crimes are public records in most states. In Florida, state law mandates that records of juveniles charged with felonies or three or more misdemeanors are public record.
Hayden, a partner at Baker & McKenzie whose firm is handling the case pro bono, said it's important to keep such misdemeanor records off FDLE's online database. Once such records are posted online, they are hard to eradicate from the Internet even if they are officially expunged by a court. "FDLE is way off on their interpretation of the law on this, and it has real effects on people's lives," he said.
Martinez argues that there is too much information about juvenile records publicly accessible on the FDLE database.
"We have to always remember that we're talking about kids, some of whom may be refused jobs, school loans, housing or credit because of minor infractions committed as juveniles," he said. "We don't agree with FDLE about what they can make public and sell when it comes to juveniles."

Forrest Norman can be reached at (305) 347-6649.
COPYRIGHT 2007 American Lawyer Media L.P.
Miami Daily Business Review
Crusading for confidentiality
Forrest Norman
January 8, 2007

Cathy Corry of Tampa heard that a young relative had been turned down for a job after an employer ran a background check and came across the family member's juvenile misdemeanor arrest years earlier.
Corry searched through the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's online public records data base three years ago and quickly found other misdemeanor records of juveniles. One record she found listed the criminal history of a boy who had been convicted of shoplifting at 13 and presenting false identification to police when he was 14.
Florida Statutes Section 985.04(2) generally makes juvenile criminal records confidential unless the minor is arrested on a felony or has three or more misdemeanors.
"This kid did two stupid things when he was a young teenager, and now that information is out there for any prospective employer or landlord," said Corry, who has since started a juvenile rights advocacy group. "You would not believe how easy it was to get criminal histories for kids with minor misdemeanors."
For a $23 initial charge, plus $8 for each additional search, anyone can peruse the criminal history data base maintained by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement ( and buy a copy of an individual's state criminal record. Searching on a name, or keying in a racial group, age or gender selection, you can mine a lot of data about people charged as juveniles with minor offenses.
A quick search of the FDLE data base by the Daily Business Review turned up records for a 14-year-old from Jacksonville charged with two misdemeanors.
Critics including Carlos Martinez, Miami-Dade County's chief assistant public defender, say the public disclosure of juvenile misdemeanor records is wrong and should be stopped. They say it's another example of the growing problem of juveniles and adults being stigmatized by the online posting of their criminal records.
The Daily Business Review reported last June that large data mining companies are obtaining and posting criminal records of juveniles and adults that were supposed to be expunged. Anyone in possession of such a record is under no obligation to destroy it after the courts have expunged it.
But others argue that the public has a right to know about all criminal records, for its own protection. Mark Cheskin, a labor and employment attorney at Hogan & Hartson in Miami, said many employers would want to know about juvenile criminal records. He said arrest records and criminal histories "can show patterns that reveal lifestyle choices."
Nevertheless, Martinez and his boss, Miami-Dade Public Defender Bennett Brummer, have proposed broad legislation that would block FDLE from releasing juvenile misdemeanor information. It also would require the agency to automatically expunge criminal records from its data base for juveniles who reach adulthood with no pending cases. Martinez said state Sen. Frederica Wilson, D-Miami Gardens, has agreed to sponsor the legislation. Wilson did not return calls for comment.
FDLE officials, however, defend their public disclosure of juvenile misdemeanor records. In a letter to the Miami-Dade Criminal Justice Council in October, FDLE general counsel Michael Ramage argued that "all juvenile criminal history information compiled or maintained by FDLE is a public record under Florida law regardless of whether the criminal history information pertains to a felony or a misdemeanor."
He cited Section 943.053(3)(a), which generally says that criminal histories provided by other Florida law enforcement agencies to the FDLE are public information and that FDLE can sell that information.
FDLE spokeswoman Heather Smith said anyone can purchase individual juvenile criminal records via the FDLE Web site. Purchasers may include data mining companies, prospective employers, condominium associations, and worried parents checking out their daughter's new boyfriend.
"We don't have any deals with companies that do background checks," Smith said. "Anyone who goes on our Web site to search criminal histories pays $23, with additional charges for additional searches."
But Martinez argues that there is entirely too much information about juvenile records publicly accessible on the FDLE data base. "We have to always remember that we're talking about kids, some of whom may be refused jobs, school loans, housing or credit because of minor infractions committed as juveniles," he said. "We don't agree with FDLE about what they can make public and sell when it comes to juveniles."
House Democratic leader Dan Gelber of Miami Beach, a former federal prosecutor in Miami, agrees with Martinez that there is a problem. "We need to clarify that in the Legislature," Gelber said. "There are 16-year-old hardened criminals, no matter what people say, and the public has a right to know some information about them. But there is also the question of permanently damaging a young life over a minor offense."
House Speaker Marco Rubio, R-Miami, did not return calls for comment by deadline. Neither did the office of Gov. Charlie Crist.
One family plans to file suit against FDLE in Miami-Dade Circuit Court on behalf a minor daughter who was arrested for stealing a can of Coca-Cola, according to the family's attorney, Don Hayden of Baker & Mackenzie in Miami. The family did not want to be identified prior to filing the suit.
Confidentiality principle 'inviolate'
Traditionally, since the first juvenile court was started in Chicago in 1899, juvenile proceedings and court records were kept confidential. The philosophy was that juveniles were children who needed treatment and rehabilitation in order to become productive, law-abiding adults. Therefore, the thinking went, they should not be punished or stigmatized for their juvenile misconduct.
In Florida, juvenile court proceedings still are kept confidential, and most news media outlets generally refrain from publishing the names of juveniles charged with crimes.
"It's a philosophical principle, really," said Miami-Dade Circuit Senior Judge Seymour Gelber, father of Rep. Gelber. The judge led the juvenile division for 20 years. "The idea of keeping most juvenile proceedings and records confidential is inviolate."
Judge Gelber, who is writing a book on the history of the juvenile justice system in Miami-Dade, said societal attitudes toward juvenile offenders have changed over the last 25 years. The shift was driven by headline-making violent crimes committed by juveniles in Florida and other states.
"The era of the violent juvenile came into being in the '70s and '80s, and the protection of the child was subsumed by the protection of the community at that point," Judge Gelber said.
"The sentiment is receding for the protections traditionally afforded juveniles in the justice system," agreed Bernard Perlmutter, a University of Miami law professor who heads the school's Children and Youth Law Clinic.
Perlmutter said "there has been a retrenchment in the policies of the juvenile justice system, which used to be based on rehabilitative and therapeutic measures. Now there is overall a feeling that we should not differ too much between children and adults when it comes to prosecuting crime, and I suppose that extends to recordkeeping as well."
Rep. Gelber said the juvenile justice system has to balance two conflicting missions. "There is rehabilitation, and then there is seek and destroy," he said. "And the increased fear about violent crime only increases the tension between those two missions."
But Hogan & Hartson's Cheskin said juvenile misdemeanor information can be valuable to employers, particularly in assessing younger candidates.
"If I'm looking to hire a 50-year-old for an office job and he got busted for some misdemeanor when he was 15, I probably won't factor that in," Cheskin said. "But say I'm hiring an 18- or 19-year-old who'll be going into people's homes to repair ovens or install phones. Suddenly criminal records from his or her recent past become very relevant."
'Youthful indiscretions'
Cathy Corry counters that disclosing juvenile misdemeanor records "is part of what we've done as a society to criminalize these kids for actions that years ago would have been considered youthful indiscretions."
Five years ago, she started the nonprofit group to advocate for the rights of minors in the juvenile justice system.
After finding the record on the FDLE Web site of the boy who had shoplifted and presented false ID to the police, Corry engaged in a lengthy e-mail exchange with FDLE officials about her discovery. Eventually, the agency conceded the records should not have been publicly accessible on the site.
"They said they removed them, but that seems like a piecemeal approach to a much larger problem," she said. "They have a mass of electronic records, and they don't seem to have a systematic way of culling the information that's not supposed to be public."
For Corry, the larger problem is the changing political and social attitudes toward juvenile offenders, and how that impacts young people who have made mistakes and learned from them.
"That's not to say that it's a good thing to be arrested with a joint of marijuana or to shoplift a candy bar," she said. "But once you've been processed through the justice system, should those things keep you from getting jobs or housing for the rest of your life?"

Forrest Norman can be reached at (305) 347-6649.
Miami Daily Business Review
Off the record
January 8, 2007

How a proposed bill would change criminal records policies for juveniles
* Juvenile arrest records for both misdemeanor and felony cases could not be sold.
* The Florida Department of Law Enforcement could not make juvenile misdemeanor arrest information public.
* Fingerprints of juveniles would be maintained in a noncriminal data base until a plea or a finding of guilt. The FDLE would be allowed to submit juvenile fingerprints and arrest information to the national criminal history data base only after juveniles are convicted or plead guilty or no contest to a felony.
* Records of all resolved juvenile arrests would include disposition information.
* Juvenile records would be automatically expunged from FDLE and local online court records when juvenile court jurisdiction ends if the youth has no pending juvenile or criminal cases and is not serving a sentence.

Source: Miami-Dade County Public Defender's Office

COPYRIGHT 2007 American Lawyer Media L.P.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Phishing/spam problems on Yahoo's Indiana Basketball group site

What follows is an excerpt from a group email that South Beach Hoosier wrote last Friday afternoon after having reached the last straw in regards to spam and phishing on Yahoo!'s Indiana basketball group.
CC: "Chad Giddens" , "Scott Dolson" , "Casey Cox"

Friday February 16th, 2007

Dear Fellow IU Supporters:

I'll be honest, I'm long past the point of getting fed up with Yahoo!'s inability to keep spam and phishing off their IU basketball group. The latest and perhaps most egregious example is a fake letter yesterday purporting to be from Fifth Third Bank -an IU athletics sponsor- from someone also using the email address, "Dbsmariehelene" an obvious red herring, yet people fall for it. People are always nervous about their bank info and their email plays into people's legitimate fears. The heading looked like this:

From: "Fifth Third Bank"
To: "Dbsmariehelene"
Subject: Fifth Third Bank - security notice. -Thu, 15 Feb 2007 20:16:46 -0500

When you go to print and then copy the email message contained there from the bottom of the page onto another page, you'll see a heretofore invisible message below it, which I have reprinted here below in red.

He stopped typing, sorry to be out of the dream. acerbic clock Boom.
I'll say I pulled over to take a nap because I was afraid I might fall asleep behind the wheel. Yes!
"Only a minute more, Paul,?she said, and uncapped the Betadine. His head ached. "Do you wonder why I told you all of this, Paul? Paul had heard him walk away from the door, and although he knocked again, Gary had not come back. He drew his arm back and heaved the penguin through the parlor window, just as he had thrown an ashtray through the window of the guest bedroom not so long ago. bourgeoisie

A few minutes ago, I went to the bank's legitimate site and and have reproduced here their official info:

Bank Protection
If you discover any suspicious online sites, emails, or other fraudulent activity.
Phone: 1-800-927-0395
We are available to assist you by phone Monday–Friday from 8 AM–6 PM ET. If calling after hours, leave a message and your call will be promptly returned during normal business hours.
To report a suspicious email which used Fifth Third's name and asked for personal or account information, please forward the email to us along with your contact information.
Please do not change the subject line. After forwarding, please delete the email from your inbox.

I'll be contacting the bank by phone this afternoon about this phishing/spam problem with the Yahoo IU basketball site, which like most problems, will NOT go away on its own, hence, they have to be reported and stopped.
I'm also sending a cc of this email to some folks back in Bloomington who share our passion for all things IU, and who are better situated to represent IU's interests than I can here in South Florida, where there are no Fifth Third bank branches south of downtown Ft. Lauderdale.

It's chiefly due to the continuing Yahoo spam problem and off-topic subjects on the site that within the past two weeks -three years later than I should've- I've finally decided to start a blog of my own, that will touch on IU basketball from time-to-time.

I have a lot of interesting material that I've yet to post, including some thoughts, anecdotes and observations on the 1979-83 Hoosiers -when I was in Bloomington- where I was close to the action on the court, playing fields and even swimming pools, due to many friendships with IU athletes and administrators, including #20, fellow South Floridian James (Jim) Thomas, the 1979 Mr. Florida Basketball, and IU Athletics' do-it-all, 24/7 Renaissance man, Chuck Crabb, who lovingly and masterfully managed IU's Student Athletic Board, which I devoted many thousands of hours to -and loved every minute.

Both the more difficult times, like torrential downpours at IU soccer games at Bill Armstrong Stadium, and those that were more fun, like helping to manage the pom squad and cheerleader tryouts up on the HPER's second floor gym to Prince's genius music, circa 1982.
After all those hours and hours of watching those carefully choreographed routines to his music, I could never hear Prince's songs again without thinking of those tryouts, including his recent Super Bowl halftime show performance, just a few miles from me.

Visit the blog sometime soon and let me know what you think.


Dave in Hallandale Beach, FL

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Patrick Healy's take on Hillary's continuing Iraq triangulation problem

After reading Patrick Healy's excellent analysis in Sunday's New York Times of the eternal internal dilemma of the Hillary 2008 campaign -the verbal expression of resolve vs. the practical virtue of pragmatism- I'm more convinced than ever of certain things, given my own perspective as someone who was not only continually talking my friends' ear off about the virtues and possibilities of a Bill Clinton presidency since at least 1990, but who contacted the Virginia Democratic Party HQ in Richmond in the summer of '91 about the requirements for running as a Clinton delegate to the DNC the following year in New York.

(As some of you may know, and not incidentally, I have a very dear friend of mine who also hails from Hope, Arkansas, someone whose mother -if I recall this correctly- literally grew-up across the street from Clinton, before he and his mother left for Hot Springs, when his mother left to study nursing.)

To South Beach Hoosier, it's deliciously irony that some of Hillary's longtime institutional supporters within the Democratic Party, who've been among the biggest critics of President Bush for what I see as his steadfastness, but which they maintain is his stubborness and unwillingness to admit what they perceive to be a mistake, now find themselves forced to publicly swallow their tongues and ignore their presence in an internal contradiction, as Hillary triangulates her response to anti-war critics who demand that she, too, admit a large dose of culpability for her past record regarding Iraq.

You know how much it must gall them, personally, but what can they do? If they criticize her publicly, they're off the band wagon, and the Clintons never, never allow anyone who jumps off the band wagon, to board again. Ever.

Bob Shrum, Democratic political operative and longtime MSNBC Hardball guest, who is referenced here merely "a senior adviser to Mr. Kerry in 2004," much to his own consternation and the eternal disgust of many Democrats in DC, including me when I was living there, has NEVER been part of a successful Democratic presidential campaign. Ever.

At some point, the national media might want to acknowledge that it's not a chicken or egg question, anymore with Shrum -it's him: His political instincts are almost always wrong.

And as for Shrum never learning from his past mistakes, ask Susan Estrich how difficult it was to get the Kerry campaign folks in DC to keep her in the loop while she was a FOX News consultant, constantly on FOX News to give her take on the Kerry p.o.v./spin-of-the-day.

Desperate to be on top of things and get Kerry's official p.o.v. included in one of her broadcasts so that she didn't mis-charachetrize a comment, she later claimed in a book appearance on
C-SPAN's Book TV that getting info from the Kerry folks was -if I remember my metaphor correctly- akin to pulling teeth!!!
And that's how they treat their friends!

Yet the Times, like most other national media organizations, continues to give Bob Shrum a degree of deference and importance that doesn't accord with his actual track record.

This tendency to log-roll longtime -and future- sources in such an obvious and self-serving way is perhaps the biggest difference between contemporary sports and political coverage in the country.

The sports sections of most major newspapers aren't constantly full of quotes from people who never actually win.
You know, losers.

New York Times
February 18, 2007
Clinton Gives War Critics New Answer on ’02 Vote
By Patrick Healy

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Déjà vu with the Florida Marlins' Miguel Cabrera

This latest weighty news regarding Florida Marlins superstar Miguel Cabrera,0,5278583.story?coll=sfla-sports-front , and comes at a particularly bad time for a small-market team that is always life and death with home attendance, and uncomfortably reminds South Beach Hoosier of his time in Washington, D.C., when nearly every area sports team had more than their share of awful public P.R. that couldn't be succesfully spun away.

The two incidents that struck the most in my throat bach then concerned:
1.) Baltimore Orioles second baseman Robby Alomar's public fit about having to play in the Orioles' annual (show of goodwill) game at their then-AAA farm team, the Rochester Red Wings, and,
2.) perpetually troubled Washington Bullet/Wizard and later Heater Rod Strickland continually blowing-off Bullets/Wizards season-ticket holders at special events, multiple times, and not even showing up for the annual team picture.
When he wasn't driving drunk or without a license.
Yes, those were the days!

To paraphrase what Washington area baseball savant Phil Wood wisely opined on his then Saturday morning radio show on WTEM, a tradition with me, Alomar came to Baltimore thinking that because of his inarguable talent, he would get most of the "Cal treatment" from management folks at 'the Warehouse.'
When that didn't transpire and the amount of carte blanche that Cal Ripken enjoyed was not shared to the extent that Alomar believed he was entitled to -because there's only one Cal- Alomar got into the first in a series of funks, and began his long descent that led to his eventually jumping-the-shark.
(Phil's insight can now be found at )

All-too-predictably, the Orioles acted surprised, as they later would when Orioles reliever Armando Benitez blew a gasket versus the Yankees in a beanball display that was the last of many incidents that called into question not the fitness of his arm, but rather his head.

"Ever hear of a sports psychologist?"
That's what I continually asked myself and my baseball-loving neighbors at Camden Yards in both Section 27, where from 1992-99, I had a 19-game season ticket plan for 4 seats with two friends, and from the center field bleachers, my favorite spot, where I'd usually attend another ten games per year with friends I invited.
If my neighbors knew it was all-too true, as I did, how come the Orioles (and now the Marlins) don't?
Why don't ballclubs EVER learn a lesson from these sorts of predictable squabbles, instead of continually trying to reinvent the wheel?

The following entry from a September 1999 Washington Post chat with ace baseball writer Richard Justice -now of the Houston Chronicle; columns at
and his blog at -speaks volumes about the conflicting pressures that existed within the Orioles clubhouse at that time:

Baltimore, Md.: We know that Cal Ripken is a Hall of Famer. No one will dispute his contributions to the Orioles and the sport of baseball during his career. Yet, I have such conflicting emotions about him. In the final analysis, I think Ripken has harmed the Orioles -in terms of team chemistry and setting a double standard among the players- more than helped them over the course of his career. Am I being unfair to him? I'd like to hear your thoughts on the clique that he seems to lead and how it has affected the Orioles as a team in the last several years. Thanks.

Richard Justice: I've known Cal pretty well since 1984 and am constantly amazed at his discipline, toughness and all of that. I also don't believe the streak was hurtful to the team in any way, even though players like Raffy Palmeiro and Robby Alomar did seem to resent him. It does bother me that he was allowed to stay in a different hotel. Someone should have put a stop to that before it even started. Now, it's in his contract. I don't buy that he had to do it because he's so famous. Michael Jordan stayed where his teammates stayed. So did Nolan Ryan. So, you're not being unfair because there was a double-standard. With great players, there has to be a double-standard on some matters, but not one as basic as that.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

2007 Volleypalooza on South Beach

Stage area at 2004 Volleypalooza, South Beach; 2004 photo by SouthBeachHoosier

Of all the pre-Super Bowl events that I'm most looking forward to this weekend is Ocean Drive Magazine's 14th annual Volleypalooza tourney at 8th Street & Ocean Drive on South Beach this Saturday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

I've gone to two of these tourneys in the past when there was no tie-in to either the Super Bowl or Orange Bowl games, and found them lots of fun.
Certainly I always left in a VERY relaxed mood, despite the thousands of people who attend.
No matter how used to South Beach you are, and no matter how consciously blase some South Floridians try to act towards the area, on a weekend like this, it's hard to come away from these things without being in awe not only of the incredible amount of stunning genetic good looks that can be crammed into such a small area, but also the very high level of volleyball play, since the co-ed teams take it VERY seriously.
This is nothing if not an opportunity for many of them to show their stuff athletically, esp. the guys, and once you're there, while there are, of course, some 5' 11'' willowy, string bean-types that seem just off the farm in Kansas, the vast majority of the Volleypalooza players are easily more physically fit than 98% of the spectators.
And you're always aware of this, too!
It's not for nothing that there are so many gyms in the SoBe area and busy ones at that. It goes without saying that this is a people-watching scene of the -nth degree. In some ways, it reminds me of the very relaxed Coconut Grove festivals my family and I used to attend regularly twenty-thirty years ago, even though Volleypalooza baosts tons of sponsor tents & tables promoting one product or another, and is very commercially driven.
Plus the combination of live music, food, fashion shows and distractions make for quite a complete afternoon. Parking? Forget about it!
I only wish this sort of event had existed when I was in high school at North Miami Beach down here in the late '70's!

That was when the Lincoln Road area was dowdy beyond belief, as I knew well.
See this shot of Lincoln Road slightly prior to that in 1972:
By the time my North Miami Beach Senior High School graduation ceremony took place in June of 1979, at the nearby Miami Beach Convention Center -scene of the 1968 Republican National Convention and the 1972 Democratic National Convention, as well as the last home for The Jackie Gleason Show- my mom had been working on Miami Beach for a few years at a law firm in the Washington Federal Savings Building.
The whole Lincoln Road area of that era was very depressing, especially during the heat of a summer day, but now, of course, it's world famous for both the chic and chic-wannabes.


[One of the first things that occurred to me at the first Volleypalooza I attended was that as easy as it is to joke about, in South Beach, just as in NYC or LA, there are hundreds of otherwise capable and attractive people who get their dreams CRUSHED on a weekly basis in South Beach, for reasons that are impossible to quantify, and impossible to explain to family & friends at home, who thought that hard work, showing up on time and a little luck would suffice.
It's much easier for us to imagine the emotional topsy-turvy trauma faced by some former high school pitching phenom, when he suddenly suffers career-threatening arm problems, just as he's settling into a groove at high Double AA, and now suddenly has to think about what Career Plan B might be if he can't recover and pitch effectively, when everyone knows there usually is no real Plan B.
If he fails, everyone says too bad, tough luck, but it wasn't anything personal.

It's quite another thing altogether, to tell people who are, to a large & perhaps ridiculous extent, in fact, their particular looks, that they "aren't right," or can't cut it, based solely on someone else's gut feeling.
At least with a tryout for a team or an audition for a TV show/film/play, there's an understanding amongst all the parties that there's some generally understood parameters that can be used to judge whether someone is good, bad or just middling mediocre, whether in hitting the outside corner with their pitches, or in the delivery of the lines, singing, dancing or whatever talent is required to nail the job.]

The last Volleypalooza tourney I caught was in 2005, when it was still a Sat. & Sunday afternoon affair, when I found myself quite taken and nearly intoxicated by the ladies of Elite Models, one blond in particular, whom I rooted for through the championship round.
They lost to either NEXT or Wilhelmina in a very close match.
Blessed not only with good looks to spare -and then some!- but also VERY intense players, some of whom I surmised must've played for their high school or college teams, judging by their highly-developed sense of anticipation. You can't just fake that.
It's not the NCAA Volleyball tourney in Lincoln, Nebraska or anything, but it's very good for this area and time of the year -and the scenery can't be beat!

In the Heart of a Great Country, Beats the Soul of Hoosier Nation

In the Heart of a Great Country, Beats the Soul of Hoosier Nation
"In the Heart of a Great Country, Beats the Soul of Hoosier Nation." -South Beach Hoosier, 2007

#IUBB, #bannersix

#IUBB, #bannersix
Assembly Hall, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana; Click photo to see video of Straight No Chaser's version of Back Home Again In Indiana, 2:37
The South Florida I Grew Up In

Excerpts from Joan Didion's Miami, 1987, Simon & Schuster:

In the continuing opera still called, even by Cubans who have now lived the largest part of their lives in this country, el exilo, the exile, meetings at private homes in Miami Beach are seen to have consequences. The actions of individuals are seen to affect events directly. Revolutions and counter-revolutions are framed in the private sector, and the state security apparatus exists exclusively to be enlisted by one or another private player. That this particular political style, indigenous to the Caribbean and to Central America, has now been naturalized in the United States is one reason why, on the flat coastal swamps of South Florida, where the palmettos once blew over the detritus of a dozen failed booms and the hotels were boarded up six months a year, there has evolved since the early New Year's morning in 1959 when Fulgencio Batista flew for the last time out of Havana a settlement of considerable interest, not exactly an American city as American cities have until recently been understood but a tropical capital: long on rumor, short on memory, overbuilt on the chimera of runaway money and referring not to New York or Boston or Los Angeles or Atlanta but to Caracas and Mexico, to Havana and to Bogota and to Paris and Madrid. Of American cities Miami has since 1959 connected only to Washington, which is the peculiarity of both places, and increasingly the warp...

"The general wildness, the eternal labyrinths of waters and marshes, interlocked and apparently neverending; the whole surrounded by interminable swamps... Here I am then in the Floridas, thought I," John James Audobon wrote to the editor of The Monthly American Journal of Geology and Natural Science during the course of an 1831 foray in the territory then still called the Floridas. The place came first, and to touch down there is to begin to understand why at least six administations now have found South Florida so fecund a colony. I never passed through security for a flight to Miami without experiencing a certain weightlessness, the heightened wariness of having left the developed world for a more fluid atmosphere, one in which the native distrust of extreme possibilities that tended to ground the temperate United States in an obeisance to democratic institutions seemed rooted, if at all, only shallowly.

At the gate for such flights the preferred language was already Spanish. Delays were explained by weather in Panama. The very names of the scheduled destinations suggested a world in which many evangelical inclinations had historically been accomodated, many yearnings toward empire indulged...

In this mood Miami seemed not a city at all but a tale, a romance of the tropics, a kind of waking dream in which any possibility could and would be accomodated...
Hallandale Beach Blog

Hallandale Beach Blog is where I try to inject or otherwise superimpose a degree of accountability, transparency and much-needed insight onto local Broward County government and public policy issues, which I feel is sorely lacking in local media now, despite all the technological advances that have taken place since I grew-up in South Florida in the 1970's. On this blog, I concentrate my energy, enthusiasm, anger, disdain and laser-like attention primarily on the coastal cities of Aventura, Hollywood and Hallandale Beach.

IF you lived in this part of South Florida, you'd ALREADY be in stultifying traffic, be paying higher-than-necessary taxes, and be continually musing about the chronic lack of any real accountability or transparency among not only elected govt. officials, but also of City, County and State employees as well. Collectively, with a few rare exceptions, they couldn't be farther from the sort of strong results-oriented, work-ethic mentality that citizens here deserve and are paying for.

This is particularly true in the town I live in, the City of Hallandale Beach, just north of Aventura and south of Hollywood. There, the Perfect Storm of years of apathy, incompetency and cronyism are all too readily apparent.
Sadly for its residents, Hallandale Beach is where even the easily-solved or entirely predictable quality-of-life problems are left to fester for YEARS on end, because of myopia, lack of common sense and the unsatisfactory management and coordination of resources and personnel.

It's a city with tremendous potential because of its terrific location and weather, yet its citizens have become numb to its outrages and screw-ups after years of the worst kind of chronic mismanagement and lack of foresight. On a daily basis, they wake up and see the same old problems again that have never being adequately resolved by the city in a logical and responsible fashion. Instead the city government either closes their eyes and hopes you'll forget the problem, or kicks them -once again- further down the road.

I used to ask myself, and not at all rhetorically, "Where are all the enterprising young reporters who want to show through their own hard work and enterprise, what REAL investigative reporting can produce?"

Hearing no response, I decided to start a blog that could do some of these things, taking the p.o.v. of a reasonable-but-skeptical person seeing the situation for the first time.
Someone who wanted questions answered in a honest and forthright fashion that citizens have the right to expect.

Hallandale Beach Blog intends to be a catalyst for positive change.

Hallandale Beach's iconic beachball-colored Water Tower, between beach and A1A/South Ocean Drive

Hallandale Beach's iconic beachball-colored Water Tower, between beach and A1A/South Ocean Drive
Hallandale Beach, FL; February 16, 2008 photo by South Beach Hoosier

Hollywood in Cartoons, The New Yorker

Hollywood in Cartoons, The New Yorker
"Gentlemen, I am happy to announce that as of today we are closing down our Washington news bureau and moving the entire operation to L.A."

Hollywood in Cartoons, The New Yorker

Hollywood in Cartoons, The New Yorker
"O.K., so I dig a hole and put the bone in the hole. But what's my motivation for burying it?"

Hollywood in cartoons, 10-21-06 Non-Sequitur by Wiley, www-NON-SEQUITUR.COM

Hollywood in cartoons, 10-21-06 Non-Sequitur by Wiley, www-NON-SEQUITUR.COM
The Magic of Hollywood: A motion has been put forth that we should seek to create rather than imitate. All in favor of killing this silly notion, nod in mindless agreement...

Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins
South Beach Hoosier's first Dolphin game at the Orange Bowl came in Dec. 1970, aged 9, a 45-3 win over Buffalo that propelled them into their first ever playoff appearance.

Sebastian the Ibis, the Spirited Mascot of the University of Miami Hurricanes

Sebastian the Ibis, the Spirited Mascot of the University of Miami Hurricanes
Before going to my first U-M game at the Orange Bowl in 1972, a friend's father often would bring me home an extra 'Canes game program. That's how I came to have the Alabama at U-M game program from Nov. 16, 1968, which was the first nationally-televised college football night game in color. (A 14-6 loss to the Crimson Tide.) After that first ballgame against Tulane, as l often did for Dolphin games if my father wasn't going, I'd get dropped off at the Levitz parking lot near the 836 & I-95 Cloverleaf in NMB, and catch a Dade County Park & Ride bus, going straight to the Orange Bowl. Onboard, I'd get next to the window and listen to WIOD's pre-game show on my Radio Shack transistor radio. A few times, I was just about the only person onboard besides the bus driver, which was alright by me. Once at the Orange Bowl, if I didn't already have a ticket, I'd buy a game program for myself and one or two for friends or teachers before heading to the ticket window, since you usually couldn't find a program vendor once inside. I probaly had a friend or my father with me for just under 40% of the U-M games I ever went to, but you have to remember that the team, though blessed with several talented players, like Chuck Foreman and Burgess Owens, was just so-so to average at best, and the games were usually played on Friday nights, so it wasn't exactly high on everyone's list of things to do. Depending upon the opponent, if I was alone, I'd often have entire areas of the Orange Bowl to myself. (Wish I had photos of that now!) For instance, I had a good portion of the East (open) End Zone to myself against Oklahoma in the mid-70's, when the Boomer Schooner and the Schooner Crew went out on the field after an Oklahoma TD, and the Schooner received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty from the refs, as would happen years later in an Orangle Bowl Classic game. (Against FSU?) I was there for the wins and losses under Pete Elliott, Carl Selmer & Lou Saban, and the huge on-field fight in '73 when under eventual national champion Notre Dame (under Ara Parseghian), they called a time-out with less than a minute to go, and already up 37-0. Their rationale? To score another TD and impress the AP football writers; final score 44-0. Well, they got their wish and beat Alabama 24-23 for the title at the Sugar Bowl. A year later, thanks to my Mom's boss, she and I saw Ara's last game as head coach of the Irish in the Orange Bowl Game from the East End Zone -in front of the Alabama cheerleaders!!!- in an exciting 13-11 Notre Dame win over Alabama and Bear Bryant, a rematch of the '73 national title game. I was also present for the U-M's huge 20-15 win under Pete Elliott against Darrel Royal's Texas Longhorns, the week Sports Illustrated's College Football preview issue came out with Texas on the cover, below. I was also present for lots of wins against schools called College of the Pacific, UNLV and Cal-Poly San Luis Obsispo, which I'd then never heard of before.

Miami Dolphins Cheerleaders, April 28, 2007

Miami Dolphins Cheerleaders, April 28, 2007
Photo by Mario J. Bermudez. April 28, 2007 at Dolphins NFL Draft Party at Dolphin HQ, Davie, FL

Of cheerleaders past and present

Given South Florida's unique version of the melting pot -con salsa- demographics and mindset, these women in the photo above are surely what most South Floridians would consider attractive women. But for this observer, who's spent hours & hours at IU cheerleader tryouts and who has known dozens of cheerleaders -and wannabes- in North Miami Beach, Bloomington, Evanston and Washington, D.C., the whole time I was watching these members of the Dolphins' squad perform, I couldn't help but compare them and their routines to those of some IU friends of mine who ALWAYS showed true Hoosier spirit & enthusiasm. Sitting at my table right near the stage and still later, while watching the long lines of Dolphin fans of all ages waiting to snap photos of themselves with the cheerleaders, I couldn't help but think about those friends who always left me and other Hoosier fans feeling positive & optimistic. Was there anyone I saw in Davie who possessed these valuable intangibles: the dancing precision of IU Red Stepper -and Captain- Gail Amster, my talented and spirited Phi Beta Kappa pal from Deerfield (IL), who always sat next to me in our Telecom. classes as we took turns entertaining the other; the ebullient spirit & energy of two Hoosier cheerleaders -and captains- from Bloomington, Wendy (Mulholland) Moyle & Sara Cox; the hypnotic, Midwestern, girl-next-door sexiness of Hoosier cheerleader Julie Bymaster, from Brownsburg; or, the adorable Southern girl-next-door appeal of former Hoosier Pom squader Jennifer Grimes, of Louisville, always such a clear distraction while sitting underneath the basket? Nope, not that I could see. But then they were VERY tough acts to follow!!! And that's not to mention my talented & spirited friends like Denise Andrews of Portage, Jody Kosanovich of Hammond & Linda Ahlbrand of Chesterton, all of whom were dynamic cheerleaders -and captains- at very large Hoosier high schools that were always in the championship mix, with Denise's team winning the Ind. football championship her senior year when she was captain -just like in a movie. That Denise, Jody & Linda all lived on the same dorm floor, just three stories above me at Briscoe Quad our freshman year, was one of the greatest coincidences -and strokes of luck for me!- that I could've ever hoped for. You could hardly ask for better ambassadors of IU than THESE very smart, sweet and talented women. In a future SBH post, I'll tell the story of one of the greatest Hoosiers I ever met, the aforementioned Wendy Mulholland, the Bloomington-born captain and emotional heart of the great early '80's IU cheerleading squads, and the daughter of Jack Mulholland, IU's former longtime Treasurer. The acorn doesn't fall far from a tree built on a foundation of integrity & community service! (After he retired, Mr. Mulholland was the first executive director of the Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County. I used to joke with Wendy that her dad's name was the one that was permanently affixed to the bottom of my work-study checks for years, while I worked at the Dept. of Political Science's Library, first, at the Student Building in the old part of campus, and then later, after it was refurbished, in magnificent Woodburn Hall, my favorite building on campus.) In that future post, I'll share some reflections on Wendy's great strength of character and personality; my intentions of returning to Bloomington a few weeks before Fall '82 classes started, so I could help Wendy train and work-out to rehab her knee, so she'd feel confident in trying-out for the squad again, following a bad knee injury that'd left her physically-unable to try-out for the squad the previous spring, a big disappointment to those of us who cared about both Wendy and the team; my incredulity at, quite literally, running into Wendy while walking down a sidewalk one afternoon a few years later in Evanston, IL, when we were astonished to discover we were both living there, with me trying to hook on with a Windy City advertising agency, and Wendy then-attending Kellogg (KGSM) at Northwestern, right when the WSJ had named Kellogg the #1 Business School in the country. I'll also share a story about Wendy performing a true act of kindness towards me in 1982, when I was having a real emergency, and she went above-and-beyond what I had any logical reason to expect. Yet, Wendy, along with her very helpful dad, Jack, came through for me when I was in a very bad time crunch. I've never forgotten Wendy's kindness towards me, and her true Hoosier spirit. There's NOTHING I wouldn't do for Wendy Mulholland.

It's All About "The U"

It's All About "The U"
South Beach Hoosier's first U-M football game at the Orange Bowl was in 1972, age 11, against Tulane in the infamous "Fifth Down" game. In order to drum up support and attendance for the U-M at the Orange Bowl, that game had a promotion whereby South Florida kids who were school safety patrols could get in for free IF they wore their sash. I did. Clearly they knew that it was better to let kids in for free, knowing their parents would give them money to buy food and souvenirs, perhaps become a fan and want to return for future games. The ballgame made an interesting impression on The New York Times, resulting in this gem from the "View of Sport" column of Oct, 14, 1990, labeled 'Fifth Down or Not, It's Over When It's Over.' -"In 1972, aided by a fifth-down officiating gift in the last moments of the game, Miami of Florida defeated Tulane, 24-21. The country and the world was a much different place that fall because The New York Times took time and space to editorialize on the subject. ''Is it right for sportsmen, particularly young athletes, to be penalized or deprived of the goals for which they earnestly competed because responsible officials make mistakes? The ideal of true sportsmanship would be better served if Miami forfeited last week's game.' South Beach Hoosier hardly needs to tell you that this was YET another New York Times editoral that was completely ignored!

The issue I took with me the night of U-M's 20-15 upset of #1 Texas at the Orange Bowl

The issue I took with me the night of U-M's 20-15 upset of #1 Texas at the Orange Bowl
College Football, Texas No. 1, Hook 'em Horns, Sept. 10, 1973. Living in North Miami Beach in the '70's, my Sports Illustrated usually showed up in my mailbox on the Thursday or Friday before the Monday cover date. And was read cover-to-cover by Sunday morning.

The Perfect Storm

The Perfect Storm
U-M QB Ken Dorsey, Miami Hurricanes Undefeated National Champions 2001, Jan. 2002

Miami's Romp in the Rose

Miami's Romp in the Rose
Miami running back Clinton Portis, Jan. 7, 2002

Why the University of Miami should drop football

Why the University of Miami should drop football
June 12, 1995


Steve McGuire and Miami Overpower No.1 Notre Dame, Dec. 4, 1989

How Sweet It Is!

How Sweet It Is!
Miami Whips Oklahoma For The National Championship, Pictured: Dennis Kelleher, Jan. 11, 1988

My, Oh My, Miami!

My, Oh My, Miami!
Steve Walsh and the Canes Stun FSU, Oct. 12, 1987

Why Is Miami No. 1?

Why Is Miami No. 1?
QB Vinny Testaverde, Nov. 24, 1986

Miracle In Miami

Miracle In Miami
The Hurricanes Storm Past Nebraska, Halfback Keith Griffin, Jan. 9, 1984

Special Issue: College Football

Special Issue: College Football
The Best Passer, George Mira of Miami, Sept. 23, 1963

1984 College & Pro Spectatcular

1984 College & Pro Spectatcular
A Pair Of Aces: U-M QB Bernie Kosar & Miami Dolphin QB Dan Marino, Sept. 5, 1984

Pro Football Hall of Fame Special Issue

Pro Football Hall of Fame Special Issue
Dan Marino, Class of 2005, Aug. 2005


A Portfolio by Walter Iooss Jr., Ricky Williams, Miami Dolphins, Dec. 9, 2002

Coming Back

Coming Back
Jay Fiedler rallies Miami to a last-second win over Oakland, Oct. 1, 2001

Dan's Last Stand

Dan's Last Stand
At 38 and under siege, Dan Marino refuses to go down without a fight, Dec. 13, 1999

The War Zone

The War Zone
In the NFL's toughest division, the surprising Dolphins are on top, Lamar Smith, Dec. 11, 2000

Down and Dirty

Down and Dirty
Jimmy Johnson's Dolphins Bury The Patriots, Steve Emtman, Sept. 9, 1996

The Sunshine Boys

The Sunshine Boys
Now Playing in Miami: The Dan Marino and Jimmy Johnson Show, May 11, 1996


Miami loves Pat Riley but wants to give Don Shula the boot, Dec. 11, 1995


Which of today's stars are locks for the Hall of Fame? Dan Marino for sure. But who else? To find out, we polled the men who do the voting. Sept. 14, 1995

Sportsman Of The Year

Sportsman Of The Year
Don Shula, Dec. 20, 1993

Dan The Man

Dan The Man
Dan Marino Saves The Day For The Dolphins, Jan. 14, 1991

Dangerous Dan

Dangerous Dan
Dan Marino Passes Miami Into The Super Bowl, Jan. 14, 1985

Super Duper!

Super Duper!
Wide Receiver Mark Duper Of The Undefeated Dolphins, Nov. 19, 1984

Air Raid! Miami Bombs Washington

Air Raid! Miami Bombs Washington
Mark Clayton (burning Darryl Green) Sept. 10, 1984

Rookies On The Rise

Rookies On The Rise
Dan Marino: Miami's Hot Quarterback, Nov. 14, 1983

New Life In The WFL

New Life In The WFL
Warfield, Csonka and Kiick of Memphis, July 28, 1975

Zonk! Miami Massacres Minnesota

Zonk! Miami Massacres Minnesota
Larry Csonka, Jan. 21, 1974

Pro Football, Miami Is Rough And Ready

Pro Football, Miami Is Rough And Ready
Larry Csonka & Bob Griese, Sept. 17, 1973

Miami All The Way

Miami All The Way
Bob Griese, Jan. 22, 1973

It's Miami and Washington

It's Miami and Washington
Mercury Morris Speeds Past The Steelers, Jan. 8, 1973

Kiick and Csonka, Miami's Dynamic Duo

Kiick and Csonka, Miami's Dynamic Duo
Larry Csonka & Jim Kiick, Aug. 7, 1972

Sudden Death at Kansas City

Sudden Death at Kansas City
Miami's Garo Yepremian Ends the Longest Game; (kneeling) placekick holder Karl Noonan, Jan. 3, 1972

New Pro in a New Town

New Pro in a New Town
Miami's Frank Emanuel, Aug. 8, 1966

Old-style "Obie" the Orange Bowl Committee mascot

Old-style "Obie" the Orange Bowl Committee mascot
The iconic image I grew-up with in Miami, before FedEx got into the picture