Monday, October 27, 2008

North Miami Beach Senior High School in the 1970's

I recently saw that someone went into Wikipedia and removed some of the more interesting facts and anecdotes I added in the summer of 2007 to give the existing webpage some needed history and heft, because it was previously embarrassingly shallow for a school that's produced so many proud graduates over the years, not least of all me, from the Class of 1979.

I've used my entry from last year as a foundation and added some things to give anyone ever wanting to understand what NMB Senior High was all about thirty years ago, some much needed perspective on things, since the area has undergone so many changes since then, many of which are for the good, I suppose, but many for the worse.

Frankly, I should've just posted my entry here in the first place, since the Wiki page was deadly dull, and I could've saved myself a lot of time conforming to their so-called "style."


North Miami Beach High School
North Miami Beach Senior High School is located 1247 NE 167 Street, North Miami m in North Miami Beach, Florida; Its current principal is Raymond L. Fontana. North Miami Beach was built in 1971 as an overcrowding reliever school for North Miami High School to the south at 800 N.E. 137 Street, and Miami Norland High School to the northwest at 1050 N.W. 195 Street. North Miami Beach Senior High School was also a pioneer in school construction, being the first high school in Dade County ever to be built with no windows of any kind, and was, necessarily, completely air-conditioned.

NMBHS's creation and its initial non-traditional style of education, with no traditional letter grades, not only created new natural rivalries with existing high schools, but also created tension within many middle and upper-middle class North Dade families, whose older children had attended and graduated from traditional Dade County schools, and who weren't necessarily happy that their younger children would be placed in an experimental school that eschewed the traditions the parents knew, as the Miami Herald reported often at the time.

This proved inevitable when younger siblings went to a high school other than the one their older brothers and sisters -and in some cases, parents- had grown-up attending and supporting with their time, attention and money. Family traditions and habits are indeed hard to break.
This created a hard cleavage in school spirit, whose practical effects were often felt at NMB home games, since, early on, only a very small percentage of actual NMB residents had any tangible connection to the new high school with big hopes and even larger expectations.

By the time the school was four years old, the non-traditional approach had been abandoned.

There was a high percentage of NMB residents who were either recent Northeast transplants with roots elsewhere.

Many Seniors had no grandchildren attending NMBHS. The initial rush and enthusiasm of school spirit often proved fleeting, with no established Charger tradition or generations of devoted alumni of their own to fall back on.

For many observers close to the NMB scene, this apathy among NMB residents, who, in other locales would've been natural school supporters, was largely proven when a medium-sized winter carnival with rides and attractions was held in February of 1976, just as the 1976 Winter Olympics were being nationally televised each night to huge ratings, thanks to the natural appeal of American figure skater Dorothy Hamill.

It's important to remember that with very few families owning pricey Betamax VCRs back then, and with DVRs and TiVos to record their favorite TV programs a distant unimaginable dream, people in North Dade had to vote with their feet: stay home and watch the Olympics, or attend the NMB sports carnival and miss being able to watch the exciting live sports broadcasts?

In the end, it was no contest, as Gold Medal-winner Dorothy Hamill proved irresistible to American TV viewers, with her enormous talent and poise, beaming smile and unique bobbed hairdo style that immediately fueled an epidemic across the country.

Held on the NMB soccer/practice football field on the NW part of campus that Charger soccer players affectionately called "Poly-Rock Stadium" -a dig at the expense of the then-existing Poly-Turf football field at the Orange Bowl, where the University of Miami and the Miami Dolphins football teams played- the winter sports carnival was the sort of fundraiser that's held annually in large parts of the country, especially in the Midwest and South.

Planned for the sole purpose of raising much-needed funds for the beleaguered NMB athletic department's bottom line, to help offset the myriad costs associated with fielding the same number of competitive sports teams as other better-established Dade high schools, but with none of the built-in traditional fan and financial base.

The event proved not to be a roaring success, attendance-wise, and after nearby residents and homeowners who had previously signed needed petitions to gain the permit, suddenly expressed dismay at the event to local media, the event was never repeated.
NMBHS's particular geographical location in South Florida has played a large role in shaping its history, as well as the day-to-day mood of its very diverse student body.
The reason is that for the better part of its first fifteen years of existence, prior to the opening of the much-larger and upscale destination-style Aventura Mall on Biscayne Boulevard and N.E. 203 Street, the school was just across the street from the very popular regional shopping center, The Mall at 163rd Street, which featured dozens of retail stores. (For most of those first 15 years as neighbors, the shopping center was an outdoor shopping center, exposing shoppers to South Florida's sub-tropical heat or drenching thundrestorms.)
Among the more popular stores were a very successful Burdine's, a Jordan Marsh, a J.C. Penney's, a Rich's, an Oshman's Sporting Goods and lots of small-to-medium sized "Mom-and-Pop" stores, as well as chain clothing, bookstores and sundry stores.
It was also well-known for being the home of three WOMETCO movie theatres, which were the largest movie theatres in northern Dade County from roughly 1968-83, drawing large numbers of film fans from southern Broward County as well. (WOMETCO was the then-corporate owner of the popular Miami Seaquarium on Key Biscayne and WTVJ-Channel 4, the long-dominant news station in South Florida under legendary broadcaster and news anchor Ralph Renick.)
Because of this synergy, the theatres were a very popular date spot, since the only other movie alternatives consisted largely of the Miami Shores theatre in Miami Shores many miles to the south, or the two drive-in theatres off State Road 836, west of the Golden Glades Interchange, on N.W. 27th Avenue and N.W. 37 Avenue.
The mall's northern side, closest to the school itself, also served as a very busy Metro bus terminal, the largest in northern Dade County, and thus was an important lifeline for NMBHS students and employees heading to or from home, or to after-school jobs elsewhere in the area.
"163rd Street" was a very important employment center for NMB students in the summer and over Christmas and Hanukah holidays, and, to the consternation of assistant principals at both NMBHS and JFK Junior High, to the west of NMBHS, also proved a popular hang-out for students predisposed to skipping school entirely.
It was equally popular with NMB students looking for a break at lunch-time, and after myriad evening school sports, drama and music activities.
Unfortunately, the natural traffic associated with the financial success of the shopping mall had a down side as well, as it tended to reinforce in NMB resident's minds the longstanding parking problems with the area, which discouraged families from attending evening events at NMBHS.
Until a regional high school football stadium was built in the 1990s at the (northern) Biscayne Bay campus of Florida International University off Biscayne Boulevard and N.E. 151 Street, the NMB Chargers football team played both its home AND away games at the northern regional football stadium, Traz Powell Stadium. Located at the-then Miami-Dade North Community College campus, now called Miami Dade College, it was located more than 7 miles away from the NMB campus.
Once students, faculty and fans arrived in the immense parking lot, local police providing security for the event directed you to the side of the stadium NMB was assigned to: "Home or Visitors'.
This bad situation, on top of the already existing fan-base problem in NMB, only made school spirit at football games problematic for all but the most devout Charger fans, since, on average, at least 75% of the fans at the games couldn't legally drive, and were completely dependent on adults to drive them to the stadium.
This logistical nightmare made it all but impossible for residents of NMB and environs to actually see the high school's team in action, and had the practical effect of meaning that in a very real sense, none of the post-game activities that high school kids have been traditionally conditioned to expect for themselves through novels, television shows and films were open to them. That was for kids at other high schools.
North Miami Beach also has a Biomedical and Environmental Advancement Magnet program (BEAM) available to any students in the district. The program gives higher education credits to students wishing to pursue a career in medicine or environmental sciences.
In the summer on 2005, the school added a new two story building to its campus.
NMB's current athletic rivals are North Miami Senior High School and Dr. Michael M. Krop High School.
Prior to the opening of Krop, the following schools were the most intense rivalries in NMB's most consistently successful sports teams: Men's Soccer- North Miami Senior High School, especially games at the Pioneers' home field, the scene of a historic Ciro Martinez-led last-second Charger win in 1976 that helped fuel the Chargers' run to the Florida state championship.
The Vikings of Miami Norland Senior High School, who inflicted a bitter 1977 loss on the Chargers, knocking them out of the Florida state playoffs at Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, and ending the Chargers' hope of winning back-to-back Florida state soccer championships. The Vikings eventually finished as the state runner-up that year.
Women's Gymnastics-
North Miami Senior High School always proved tough competition when talented twin sisters Debbie Reiser and Donna Reiser were top-flight All-Dade gymnasts there between 1975-79, but ultimately, NMB's greater depth and all-around ability always won the day by the last event led by Lisa Martin and Karen Ginsburg.
By far, the toughest competition for the NMB Charger gymnastics team during their undefeated glory days of the late 1970s under head coach Peter Saponaro -himself an All-American and co-captain of an NCAA Championship Men's team at Penn State in the 1960s- came against the orange and blue-clad Trojans of HML, Hialeah-Miami Lakes High School, when H-ML dominated the high school sports world of Miami in nearly every sport, as few schools have before or since.

For years the Trojan gymnasts were consistently the second-best team in the state of Florida under the tutelage of their veteran head coach Don Gutzler.

The Trojans were led by some enormously talented gymnasts, including my friend, the late Dee Leutner, who I ran into outside of NMB the day we were to take the SATs, and who sat at my table after we psyched each other up. What a sweetheart she was!

After leaving HML, Dee was a proud University of Georgia Gym Dog teammate of one of my great friends on the NMB team, Linda Zobler, the middle daughter of the amazing gymnastic Zobler sisters, Katie and Susan, whose proud and encouraging parents never missed a home meet and were a model for what gymnastic parents ought to be.

(Katie was the first of my NMB gymnastic friends to head up to Athens and join the University of Georgia GymDogs around 1977 or '78.

because of her fantastic personality and ever-present smile, Linda Zobler was an immensely popular person at NMBHS, especially with the Boys Soccer team back when the NMB Boys soccer team and Girls gymnastic teams were very interconnected because of their mutual support for each other at games and meets, but also because, quite frankly, they were by far the most consistently talented and successful teams in the school.

It was only natural that they gravitated towards each other.

The tall and graceful Deeanne Fernandez was another great HML gymnast, especially on balance beam and bars.

A red-haired ball of energy named Tracey Blake, also my friend, was yet another star HML gymnast, and later followed me up to Indiana University, where she became the captain of the Hoosier gymnastics team.

Dee, Linda, Deeanne and Tracey all consistently made the Miami Herald and Miami News All-Dade County gymnastics team year after year, without fail, just as prior friends and stars like Lisa Martin and Karen Ginsberg ui .

H-ML always provided the Chargers with the sort of tough but friendly competition that was usually never settled until the very last competitor had performed, as happened often in the GMAC (county) championship meet, and the 1979 state championship at NMB, the Chargers always emerging bloodied but victorious.

The NMB vs. H-ML gymnastics meets were always well-attended, regardless of the venue, but never more so when they were held at NMBHS, when appreciative evening crowds of 1,500-2,000 people were not at all uncommon, and only added to the spirit and tension of a meet between what were clearly the two best teams in the state of Florida, and among the best in the nation, year after year.

Though they were tough competitors during the course of the meet, the Chargers and Trojan gymnasts were kindred spirits and friends away from the gym, and the large number of fans who attended these intense meets were always very keen on showing their appreciation of the
H-ML gymnasts for their talent and style, since their ability only served to push the Chargers even harder.

Years later, South Florida sports fans who were fortunate enough to have attended those meets STILL remember the tension that greeted every performance and judge's score, as the Charger and Trojan gymnasts put on an impressive show of talent and style that were unique for the world of high school sports in general, and high school gymnastics in particular.

They were the best of competitors for two hours and the best of friends afterwards.

Notable alumni

Max Jean-Gilles - Philadelphia Eagles

Bobby Kemp - former NFL strong safety for Cincinnati Bengals from 1981-86, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1987. Started in Super Bowl as rookie.

Steve Nicosia -MLB Catcher, 8 seasons, 1978-1985 Pittsburgh,San Francisco,Montreal,Toronto.
First NMB alum to play in MLB World Series in 1979, catching Game 7 as rookie.

Men's Soccer: Florida State Champions in 1976 under head coach Victor Cappillo
Women's Gymnastics: Greater Miami Athletic Conference (County) Champions 1976-1979 and Florida State Champions in 1979 under head coach: Peter Saponaro

Friday, October 24, 2008

Finally! South Beach Hoosier is Back on the Job!

It's hard to be humble when you're a Hoosier-by-choice!

Assembly Hall, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana
One of the places where, once upon a time, it really did all come together.
Sorry for the VERY LONG break from my duties here at South Beach Hoosier, as I've rather foolishly allowed myself to become too preoccupied with the internecine political fighting here in the duchy of Hallandale Beach, Florida and writing on Hallandale Beach Blog, to the neglect of my SBH responsibilities.
Trust me, nobody feels worse about the matter than I do.
Not to worry, as I have a ton of already-written material that I will be posting here over the next few days to get you al back up to speed on what's on my mind as it involves my interests, like the Indiana University Hoosiers; the myriad ups and (mostly) downs of the Dolphins and Hurricanes in this season of inconsistent coaching; the latest doings of South Florida's thoroughly under-reported public policy scene, and the neverending media keffuffle that is South Florida's current sorry state of journalism, where old-fashioned notions about thoroughness and fairness have been completely cast aside for all to see.

Another trend that you may notice is that I will no longer be holding my punches quite so much about individual South Florida and Washington media personalities that I know and have dealt with, as I have done perhaps a bit too much in the past.
That's all in the past, as in the intervening months, per the last paragraph, the gloves have most definitely come off!
No point holding my tongue when I can enlighten everyone to some egregiously bad, sloppy or incomplete reporting.
In another media matter, I will also mention and comments on some recent Hoosier additions to the South Florida news media scene.
By the way, since I last commented in this space, I've had the good fortune to run into the mother of a former IU basketball player a few times, and will hope to fill you in on what she had to share with me about her talented son.

Surprisingly, I've also discovered that a very trustworthy news source is now MUCH CLOSER to someone within the inner orbit of Hoosier athletics than I ever could've guessed.
Could it be, you know, a possible future "South Beach Hoosier World Exclusive" he said, laughing at the very idea.
Not yet, but...
-Dave at South Beach Hoosier

Friday, July 18, 2008

Miami's Art Basel's Role in the UBS (Tax Cheat) Scandal

Of course Florida and South Florida in particular is a character in the emerging tax scandal involving Swiss banking giant UBS and billions of undeclared greenback$.
Why should this story be any different from so many dozens of crazy stories before it over the past thirty years?

(See: Sen. Levin: Shut Down Giant Swiss Bank UBS,
Investigation Reveals Secrecy Tricks Allegedly Used by Swiss Bankers

It's really great that the Art Basel Art Fair could help facilitate the meet-and-greet card exchanges that led directly to illicit behavior and financial transactions among the monied class.
Friendly, competent help like that down here is VERY hard to find, as we all know from experience.
No wonder UBS kept coming back year-after-year!

As of this morning, the UBS logo still appears in the bottom left of the Art Basel web page
FYI: Art 40 Basel takes place June 10-14, 2009.

In a few years, when they eventually make a feature film out of Tom Wolfe's upcoming novel on the Miami area, I hope they at least do some on-site shooting down here so that some good can come from all the (temporary?) ill-gotten gains.
(Who knows, maybe MIA's construction will even be finished by then!)

Regardless of how old the cool as a cucumber Swiss banker Bradley Birkenfeld really is, I hereby nominate Jeremy Irons to play him.

I can already see him in the role, stepping out of a long dark Town Car at night, impeccably dressed with a tan and saying bon mots to folks who love nothing in the world so much as cultured and erudite people tossing bon mots their way.

A little bit of Reversal of Evidence and a little bit of Damage and pretty soon you're talking Swiss banker
with dollar signs in his eyes as he hands out UBS cards with the three keys on it.
Ironically, I'm doing this post while simultaneously watching Clark Gable and Lana Turner on Turner Classic Movies in 1941's Honky Tonk, in which Gable plays -yes- a lovable but tough con man in the Old West.

Naturally, now that I say all these things about characters and actors, I see thru this and this,
that Wolfe's novel Back to the Blood already has identifiable characters, and, none of 'em are Swiss bankers with the savoir-faire to help those with the dough avoid the tax man.
Maybe I'll have to be the one write that screenplay after all!

Herewith, the Swiss variation of a con, except here, rich folks are the easy marks, eager to escape paying Uncle Sam their fair share of the tax load while indulging their haute culture in South Florida.

And remember, as the Herald keeps insisting we must, they're not all snobs, they're just
connoisseurs and possible condo-owners to be.
Meanwhile, back in The Miami Art District...
(Numbers in blue identify footnote numbers)

from page 3/114:
On June 30, 2008, the United States took another step. It filed a petition in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida requesting leave to file an IRS administrative summons with UBS asking the bank to disclose the names of all of its U.S. clients who have opened accounts in Switzerland, but for which the bank has not filed forms with the IRS disclosing the Swiss accounts.10 The court approved service of the summons on UBS on July 1,
2008.11 The summons has apparently been served, but according to Swiss authorities the Swiss
and American governments are negotiating over its execution.12 This John Doe summons
represents the first time that the United States has attempted to pierce Swiss bank secrecy by
compelling a Swiss bank to name its U.S. clients.

from page 6-7/114
In May 2008, a second international tax scandal broke when the United States arrested a
private banker formerly employed by UBS AG, one of the largest banks in the world, on charges
of having conspired with a U.S. citizen and a business associate to defraud the IRS of $7.2
million in taxes owed on $200 million of assets hidden in offshore accounts in Switzerland and
Liechtenstein. The United States had earlier detained as a material witness in that prosecution a
senior UBS private banking official from Switzerland traveling on business in Florida, allegedly
seizing his computer and other evidence. In June 2008, the former UBS private banker, Bradley Birkenfeld, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the IRS
.8 His alleged co-conspirator, Mario
Staggl, part owner of a trust company, remains at large in Liechtenstein. The current UBS senior private banking official, Martin Liechti, remains under travel restrictions. This enforcement
action appears to represent the first time that the United States has criminally prosecuted a Swiss banker for helping a U.S. taxpayer evade payment of U.S. taxes.9

On June 30, 2008, the United States took another step. It filed a petition in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida requesting leave to file an IRS administrative
summons with UBS asking the bank to disclose the names of all of its U.S. clients who have
opened accounts in Switzerland, but for which the bank has not filed forms with the IRS disclosing the Swiss accounts.
10 The court approved service of the summons on UBS on July 1,
2008.11 The summons has apparently been served, but according to Swiss authorities the Swiss
and American governments are negotiating over its execution.12 This John Doe summons
represents the first time that the United States has attempted to pierce Swiss bank secrecy by
compelling a Swiss bank to name its U.S. clients.

from page 9/114
Marsh Accounts: Hiding $49 Million Over Twenty Years. James Albright Marsh, a U.S. citizen from Florida in the construction business, formed four Liechtenstein foundations, two in 1985, one in 1998, and one in 2004, and transferred substantial sums to them. LGT assisted him in establishing the two 1985 foundations, using documents that gave Mr. Marsh and his sons substantial control over the foundations and strong secrecy protections. By 2007, the assets in his four foundations had a combined value of more than $49 million. Although LGT became a participant in the QI Program in 2001, which requires foreign banks to report information on accounts with U.S. securities, LGT did not report the Marsh accounts. Instead it advised Mr. Marsh to divest his LGT foundations of U.S. securities, and treated the accounts as owned by non-U.S. persons, the Liechtenstein foundations that LGT had formed. After Mr. Marsh’s death in 2006, the IRS apparently discovered the Liechtenstein foundations through the documents released by the former LGT employee. Mr. Marsh’s family is now in negotiation with the IRS over back taxes, interest and penalties owed on the $49 million in undeclared assets.

from page 16/114:
Mr. Birkenfeld testified that UBS also provided its Swiss bankers with tickets and funds to go to events attended by wealthy U.S. individuals, so that they could solicit new business for the bank in Switzerland. He said that UBS sponsored U.S. events likely to attract wealthy clients, such as the Art Basel Air Fair in Miami; performances in major U.S. cities by the UBS Vervier Orchestra featuring talented young musicians; and U.S. yachting events attended by the elite Swiss yachting team, Alinghi, which was also sponsored by UBS. A UBS document laying out marketing strategies to attract U.S. clients confirms that the bank “organized VIP events” and engaged in the “Sponsorship of Major Events” such as “Golf, Tennis Tournaments, Art, Special Events.” This document even identified the 25 most affluent housing areas in the United States to provide “targeted locations where to organize events.”

page 19/114
Olenicoff Accounts. These concerns are further illustrated by the recent criminal prosecution involving UBS accounts opened in Switzerland by Mr. Birkenfeld for Igor Olenicoff. Mr. Olenicoff is a billionaire real estate developer, U.S. citizen, and resident of Florida and California. From 2001 until 2005, Mr. Birkenfeld and Mario Staggl, a trust officer from Liechtenstein helped Mr. Olenicoff open multiple bank accounts in the names of offshore companies he controlled at UBS in Switzerland and Neue Bank in Liechtenstein. For a time, Mr. Olenicoff was Mr. Birkenfeld’s largest private banking client. To service these accounts, Mr. Birkenfeld met with Mr. Olenicoff in the United States and elsewhere, communicated with him by telephone, fax, and email in the United States, and advised him on how to avoid disclosure of his accounts and assets to the IRS. In 2007, Mr. Olenicoff pled guilty to one criminal count of filing a false income tax return by failing to disclose the foreign bank accounts he controlled. He was sentenced to two years probation and 120 hours of community service, and paid six years of back taxes, interest, and penalties totaling $52 million. In 2008, Mr. Birkenfeld pled guilty to conspiring with Mr. Olenicoff to defraud the IRS and avoid payment of taxes owed on $200 million in assets hidden in accounts in Switzerland and Liechtenstein. Their alleged coconspirator, Mr. Staggl, remains at large in Liechtenstein.

page 42/114 one of the most fascinating parts of the story!
(1) Marsh Accounts: Hiding $49 Million Over Twenty Years
James Albright Marsh, Jr. (“Mr. Marsh”) is a construction contractor who lived in Florida with his wife and six children, until he died in 2006.117 He, his wife, and his children have always been U.S. citizens. In 1985, Mr. Marsh traveled to Liechtenstein, and LGT helped him establish two Liechtenstein foundations, the Chateau Foundation and Lincol Foundation, which then opened accounts at LGT Bank. Also during the 1980s, Mr. Marsh formed two more
Liechtenstein foundations, called Topanga Foundation118 and Largella Foundation,119 apparently using two other financial institutions in Liechtenstein.120 Over the years, these four
Liechtenstein foundations opened accounts at five Liechtenstein banks.121 By 2007, the
Liechtenstein accounts had assets with a combined value in excess of $49 million.

This section on Mr. Marsh continues for five pages with all sorts of secretive legal corporate tactics they employed to keep below the radar.

from page 79-81/114
Using Transfer Corporations to “Cover Up the Tracks” of Client Funds. As indicated in some of the case histories described earlier, LGT documents obtained by the Subcommittee show that it was not uncommon for LGT to set up intermediary, pass-through corporations that were used by the bank, in the words of an LGT employee, “to cover up the tracks” of funds moving into LGT client accounts. When asked about these corporations, the head of compliance Officer for LGT Group confirmed their existence, explaining that these “auxiliary services corporations” served several functions, including the transmission of funds “confidentially.”338

The documents show that LGT used BTS Management Ltd., formed in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), to establish a number of the transfer corporations. The documents indicate that LGT typically asked BTS Management to form a BVI corporation which then opened an account at LGT or another bank, such as Bank du Gothard in Luxembourg. The transfer corporation then
received funds or securities from an LGT client and immediately transferred those funds or
securities to LGT, if its account was at an outside bank. In some instances the transfer corporation was then dissolved; in other instances, it continued in existence. Once the funds or
securities were delivered to LGT bank, they were moved internally within the bank, using a
mechanism called “journaling” to transfer them from one LGT account to another, here from the transfer corporation’s LGT account to the client’s LGT account. This internal transfer mechanism makes it much more difficult to trace the movement of funds and securities, since it
leaves no record outside of the bank showing that the assets were transferred to the ultimate
recipient, the LGT client.

The Subcommittee investigation uncovered several examples of LGT engaging in this practice. For example, Sera Financial Corporation is a BVI corporation that appears to have functioned as an LGT transfer corporation. An internal LGT document describes Sera Financial as a “[s]pecial purpose company (indirect subsidiary of LTV) for portfolio transfers for assets which are to be brought into an LTV structure.”339 The document shows, by account number, that Sera Financial held one account at Banque du Gothard and eleven separate accounts at LGT Bank in Liechtenstein.340 The document explains this unusual account structure as follows:

For each customer, a sub-account or deposit facility is opened under a reference at BdG
[Banque du Gothard] and at LGT …. Funds transfers as well as securities deliveries to BdG are in favor of SERA …. BdG is instructed to forward cash values and securities without delay to LGT BIL [Bank in Liechtenstein] in favor of Sera Financial Corp. with specification of the reference. ... As soon as the assets are credited at BIL, they are transferred to the destination account ….

One example of how Sera Financial was used involves a new trust set up for a U.S. client in 2000. A LGT memorandum to the file discussing the transfer of assets to the new trust states:
“The trust shall open an account in the LGT Bank in Liechtenstein. The transfer of assets should
take place using this account. To cover up the tracks from UBS Zurich to the trust in Liechtenstein, I recommend an intermediary Single Purpose Company.”342 LGT decided to use
Sera Financial as the transfer corporation. A wire transfer instruction from Gotthard Bank shows how the transfer operation worked.343 It shows that on October 31, 2000, after $1.2 million had been credited to the Sera Financial account at Banque du Gothard: “BTS Management Limited, Tortola, as Managing Director of the company Sera Financial Corporation, Tortola, B.V.I. [h]ereby declares: … that the following beneficiary(ies) is/are entitled to the above-referenced transaction,” naming the U.S. citizen from Florida, known to the Subcommittee as a U.S. client of LGT at that time. The $1.2 million was then transferred to his account.

pages 96-97/114
Mr. Birkenfeld testified that UBS not only authorized and paid for the business trips to the United States, but also provided the Swiss bankers with tickets and funds to go to events
attended by wealthy U.S. individuals, so that they could solicit new business for the bank in
Switzerland. He said that UBS sponsored U.S. events likely to attract wealthy clients, such as
the Art Basel Air Fair in Miami; performances in major U.S. cities by the UBS Vervier Orchestra
featuring talented young musicians; and U.S. yachting events attended by the elite Swiss
yachting team, Alinghi, which was also sponsored by UBS. An internal UBS document laying
out marketing strategies to attract U.S. and Canadian clients confirms that the bank “organized
VIP events” and engaged in the “Sponsorship of Major Events” such as “Golf, Tennis
Tournaments, Art, Special Events.”405 This document even identified the 25 most affluent
housing areas in the United States to provide “targeted locations where to organize events.”406

Mr. Birkenfeld described to the Subcommittee how Swiss private bankers used these events and other means to find new U.S. clients during their trips to the United States: You might go to sporting events. You might go to car shows, wine tastings. You might deal with real estate agents. You might deal with attorneys. … It’s really where do the rich people hang out, go and talk to them. … [I]t wasn’t difficult to walk into a party with a … business card, and then someone ask[s] you, ‘What do you do?’ and you say, ‘Well, I work for a bank in Switzerland, and we manage money there and open accounts.’
And people immediately would recognize, oh, this is someone who could open new
business by opening accounts.

page 98/114
For example, the Subcommittee found that at least five UBS client advisors travelled to the United States for trips coinciding with the Art Basel Art Fair, an annual UBS-sponsored event held in early December in Miami Beach since 2002. The data shows that, over the years,
several UBS Swiss client advisors were in Miami during the art show, including three in 2007.
On the customs forms completed over the years by UBS travelers prior to landing at Miami
International airport
, only one client advisor stated that the purpose of the trip was for business, while five described the visit as for pleasure. These client advisors’ trips, however, coincided
closely with the dates of the Art Basel event, including an invitation-only private showing.
Moreover, the Subcommittee’s analysis of the customs and travel records obtained from the
Department of Homeland Security show that a Swiss-based UBS client advisor traveled to New
England from June 20-25, 2004, a trip coinciding with the UBS Regatta Cup, held in Newport,
RI from June 19-26, 2004.

pages 105-106/114
(5) Violating Restrictions on U.S. Activities
The UBS practices just described, related to Swiss banker activities undertaken in the United States to recruit and service U.S. clients, may have violated U.S. law as well as UBS policy. As explained earlier, U.S. securities and banking laws prohibit non-U.S. persons from advertising securities services or products, executing securities transactions, or performing banking services within the United States, without an appropriate license. Moreover, U.S. tax laws may require a foreign financial institution to report to the IRS on 1099 Forms sales of non-U.S. securities effected in the United States, such as by executing a transaction by a broker physically in the United States or ordering the completion of a transaction through telephone calls or emails originating from the United States.

It was to avoid violating U.S. law, exceeding its licensed activities, or triggering 1099 reporting requirements, that caused UBS to issue policy statements restricting the activities that its non-U.S. bankers could undertake while in the United States. Its 2002 and 2004 policy statements, for example, prohibited UBS Swiss bankers, while in the United States, from advertising securities products to their clients, informing clients of how their security portfolios were performing, providing copies of account statements, or using U.S. mails, faxes, telephone calls or email to discuss a client’s securities portfolio.443 UBS also prohibited its Swiss bankers from prospecting for new clients while in the United States, soliciting new accounts, or obtaining
signatures on account opening documentation.

Despite these prohibitions, it appears that UBS Swiss bankers in the United States servicing U.S. clients routinely undertook actions that contravened the UBS restrictions. Mr. Birkenfeld described, for example, an art festival sponsored by UBS in Miami each year, which he attended with other Swiss bankers for the express purpose of soliciting new accounts. “We went to these events. We went to dinners, we went to art exhibitions, we went to private homes as private bankers, knowingly by management that they were paying for our hotel, paying for our airfare, paying us our salary, and getting us tickets to the UBS VIP tent to drink champagne with
444 He testified that he witnessed Swiss bankers soliciting new accounts and completing
account opening documentation while in the United States. He testified that in some cases,
“instead of saying, ‘I signed it in New York,’ they brought the forms back to Geneva and they
put in ‘Geneva.’”445 When asked whether he had promoted securities products during his trips to the United States, he responded, “We were promoting anything.”446

Mr. Birkenfeld also told the Subcommittee that UBS Swiss bankers routinely communicated with their U.S. clients about the status of their accounts, including their securities portfolios. He said that some Swiss private bankers communicated with their U.S. clients by telephone or fax, or by sending occasional documents to them in the United States by overnight mail.447 He said the bankers sometimes used code names during the telephone calls, so that the U.S. client would not have to identify themselves by name, in case anyone was listening.448 He said that U.S. clients generally did not like sending or receiving emails via computer, “because they didn’t want that link, for obvious reasons.”449 Nevertheless, some clients did use email, as shown in the case involving Mr. Birkenfeld and Mr. Olenicoff, examined further below. Mr. Birkenfeld also described how Swiss bankers brought into the United States information about clients’ accounts and securities portfolios. He told the Subcommittee that his day-to-day interactions with clients were in direct contradiction to the restrictions set out in UBS’ policy statements. He indicated those policies simply were not enforced while he was at the bank.450

from page 108/114
Contrary to this representation by UBS, however, a Subcommittee review of the relevant
travel data for the Swiss bankers determined that, from January to April 2008, UBS client
advisors made twelve trips to the United States, travelling from Switzerland to New York,
Miami, San Francisco, and Las Vegas. The Customs I-94 Forms indicate that, on half of these
trips, the Swiss bankers indicated they were travelling for business purposes, while on the other
half, the Swiss bankers indicated they were travelling to the United States for non-business
purposes. With respect to Mr. Liechti, head of the UBS Wealth Management Americas division,
the I-94 Form shows that he arrived in the United States on April 20, 2008, on business. There is no record of his departure to date.

The clear contrast between the UBS policy restrictions dating back to at least 2002, and the activities undertaken by UBS Swiss bankers while traveling in the United States, as described
by Mr. Birkenfeld in his deposition, in connection with his recent indictment, and in internal UBS documents, suggests that until recently, the UBS restrictions were not being enforced. This lack of enforcement, in turn, raises concerns that UBS Swiss bankers with U.S. clients may have been routinely violating not only the bank’s internal policies, but also U.S. law. UBS is currently under investigation by the SEC, IRS, and Department of Justice regarding the activities of its Swiss bankers in the United States.

And in the end...

D. Analysis
Unlike LGT, UBS did not generally refrain from conducting banking operations within the
United States. UBS Swiss bankers targeted U.S. clients, traveled across the country in search of
wealthy individuals, and aggressively marketed their services to U.S. taxpayers who might
otherwise never have opened Swiss accounts. UBS practices resulted in its U.S. clients
maintaining undeclared Swiss accounts that collectively held billions of dollars in assets that
were not disclosed to the IRS. UBS serviced these accounts, in part, by offering banking and
securities products and services within the United States that UBS Swiss bankers were not
licensed to provide. Swiss bank secrecy laws hid not only the misconduct of U.S. taxpayers
hiding assets at UBS in Switzerland, but also the actions taken by UBS bankers to assist those
U.S. clients.
UBS has now stopped all travel by its Swiss bankers to the United States, issued more
restrictive policies, and is conducting an internal review to gauge the nature and extent of the
problem. UBS also cooperated with this Subcommittee in its efforts to gain a full understanding
of the facts and issues.
from the

Monday, July 14, 2008

Speaking of Marlins stadium cost over-run provisions...

Meant to post this Monday
Just wanted to share a couple of odds and ends with you that I caught late Sunday over at DCRTV, , a go-to media website and connect them to some local issues of interest to me.

DCRTV's a website that I've been going to for years since I lived in the DC area, and eventually got fed-up with the whitewash and company line I saw too often in the Washington Post's coverage of news about DC-area TV and radio stations and their personalities.
They still cover that in a way that's long been missing at both the Herald and the Sun-Sentinel, though I'm old enough to remember when the Herald did a pretty decent job of that, back when it seemed like every other week something crazy was happening at WNWS, with Neil Rogers, Al Rantel, Stan Majors, et al, when there was local radio talk that was a worth listening to.
But then South Beach Hoosier still recalls how great Neil Rogers was doing play-by-play for U-M baseball games, so...

Owing largely to DC's much-larger media universe, it necessarily is better plugged- in to the industry and has more influence up there than locally-based down here, though I still go to the latter a few times a week, and have listed them on my blogroll from Day One.
In fact, it's there that I first learned that IU alum and then-Local10 meteorologist Megan Glaros was heading up to Nueva York.
It's also where I first learned yesterday morning about Post-Newsweek buying local NBC-6 -WTVJ, to create yet another duopoly in this media market.
I'll have a post on that story tomorrow as I really thought that the Tribune Company was a more likely buyer for the NBC affiliate.

Please read the first link below from the Washington Post, as it presages exactly the sort of embarrassing future Marlin headlines I think it's quite likely we'll see in the Herald, if this disastrous Megaplan goes through, as the Washington Nationals' owner is currently not paying the team's rent in DC due to problems with the stadium.
Not surprisingly, the City of Washington is not amused!

And did you catch this delicious nugget in Barry Jackson's Sunday Herald column?
Apparently the Marlins were trying to change the terms of their $38.5 million loan from MLB, but the suits up at Park Avenue weren't buying Jeffrey Loria's lame excuses.
They want their money back.

Well, to paraphrase what Popeye's popular side-kick Wimpy (J. Wellington Wimpy) often said, Jeffrey Loria & Co."would gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today."
The difference is that Loria wants to use our wallets to do it!

See this great illustration of Wimpy and the whole gang at a very interesting flower blog called the Human Flower Project: Sweet Pea - ‘Adoptid infink’
Sweet Pea on Popeye’s lap, with Wimpy and Olive Oyl Image: Myron Waldman, King Features

More: Baseball A Bust In DC - 7/11 - Now, on top of news that the team's delivering lower-than-low TV ratings, we learn that the Washington Nationals' owners - the family of Bethesda-based developer Theodore Lerner - have failed to pay $3.5 million in rent for the District's new ballpark, contending that the state-of-the-art stadium is still incomplete. DC paid more than $611 million in public money to build the stadium complex along the Anacostia River. More in the DC Post.....

Nats' Fans May Boycott Post - 7/11 - Some Nationals fans are not happy with the Washington Post's coverage of the team. And are floating the idea of boycotting the Post's Nats coverage in favor of the Washington Times' Nats coverage. Dan Steinberg has more at

(It's all at )
Nationals Withhold Rent on Ballpark, Hundreds of Items Are Incomplete,Team Owners Say
By Daniel LeDuc and David Nakamura. Washington Post Staff Writers, July 11, 2008)

Williams: Bad Baseball Cause Of Nats' TV Slump - 7/14 -In the Examiner, Jim Williams looks at the ultra-low TV ratings for the Nationals: "The team isn't playing well and there just not seem to enough compelling storylines. Add to that the area is not yet used to following the Nationals... I think that it is unfair to blame MASN for the low numbers. I have heard the absurd argument that because the Nationals and the Orioles alternate between MASN and MASN2 fans can't always find the games. If you can find NBA basketball on CSN, TNT, ESPN, ABC, and even NBA-TV then you should be able to find the Nationals games".....

On a Clear Day, You Can See Forever...

le 14 de juillet 2008
Happy Bastille Day!

"On a clear day, you can see forever..."

True enough from atop La Tour Eiffel en Paris, and especially in one of my all-time favorite films, 1956's Funny Face, strarring Audrey Hepburn, Fred Astaire and Kay Thompson (See for info and for great photo!)

But as this delicious and interesting post Thursday by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel's Anthony Man on their Broward Politics blog makes clear below, it's also true from atop Broward County Govt.'s HQ at 115 S. Andrews Avenue, Fort Lauderdale.
From interim County Administrator Bertha Henry's office, it's apparently nothing but blue skies -and green lights!

This attitude certainly explains a lot around here!
With friends like this...

Most of today I'll be down at the Circuit Courthouse on Flagler Street at the trial of Norman Braman v. Miami-Dade County, Ciudad de Miami y Los Marlins.

I'd planned on being there Friday, taking some notes and photos for les blogs, but something came up. Given what happened with the delay, I lucked out.

Happy Bastille Day!
Apropos of the French holiday today, over the weekend on FOX Movie Channel, I finally saw the non-musical 1952 film version of Les Misérables, starring Michael Rennie as Jean Valjean and Robert Newton as Inspector Javert.

Por aujourd'hui, I'm going under my nom de guerre, Laurent.

"On a clear day, you can see forever..." Barbra Streisand at her best!
La Babs est magnifique!!!
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Broward Politics blog
July 10, 2008

Something to think about when you're stuck at a traffic light in Broward County: the government believes the signals are timed
Posted by Anthony Man at 10:15 AM

Broward County has a $3.5 billion annual budget. But it hasn't come up with the dough to synchronize the traffic lights, so taxpayers can save time, gasoline, and wear and tear on their cars.

The reason, perhaps, is that at the top of Broward government, it isn't seen as an issue.

The view from county government headquarters is that the lights are synchronized.

It just doesn't seem that way to drivers who travel at the speed limit along many major streets and get stuck at light after light even when there is hardly any other traffic around.

To see the rest of the post, see:

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Purdue RB recruit: Choosing Purdue over IU was a 'no-brainer"

I grew-up in South Florida as a huge sports fan in the 1970's, played three sports competitively -baseball, football and soccer- and was the Team Manager for two North Miami Beach Senior High School teams that won the Florida State championship.
(I wrote about 80% of the above Wiki definition.)

To see Street Scene of NMBHS:,-80.174553&spn=0.008684,0.010343&t=h&z=16&layer=tc&cbll=25.929149,-80.175365&panoid=iSypIXGVnW7S2RAEg6qT5A&cbp=1,0.6870095273476409,,0,5

The first State Championship was Boys Soccer in 1975 under head coach Vic Cappillo, and then Girls Gymnastics in 1979 under Pete Saponaro, two wonderfully talented and enthusiastic men whom I admired and respected enormously.
For all those reasons, by the time I graduated from NMB in 1979, I had many talented friends around the greater Miami area who were fortunate enough to be offered -and accept- D-1 college athletic scholarships in myriad sports.

Because of those factors, more than most people, I was very familiar with the enormous football talent pool around here, and foresaw the inevitable rise of the Hurricanes, Seminole and Gators' football programs to where we became accustomed down here to the idea of the three of them being ranked in the Top Ten at the beginning and end of every college football season.
To me, it was completely predictable.

So with that in mind, while I was at IU from 1979-83, I was continually frustrated at the number of very talented kids from South Florida -and Central Florida, too- who'd wind up going to smaller schools like the Central, Western or Eastern Michigan, or the like.

Kids who'd be just the sort who'd give IU some much-needed depth so they wouldn't have the sort of second-half collapses against good teams as has long been the norm in Bloomington.
And I wasn't alone in my frustration.

Not to name drop, per se, but Jim Thomas of FT. Lauderdale the-then IU basketball team was a good friend of mine at the time, despite Jim's living over at Teter Quad while I was at Briscoe Quad., near the IU Fieldhouse and Assembly Hall.

(Jim and I were friends despite his single-handily knocking off my school, North Miami Beach, in the state playoffs, at his school's gym, the one year we were arguably THE best team in the state of Florida and favored to win the state championship.)

As both students and sports fans who loved IU, we'd continually bemoan IU's chronic inability to get South Florida kids up to Bloomington, who, while perhaps not stars, were exactly the sorts of very solid, well-rounded kids that make the difference between a solid 7-4 or 8-3 team, and a floundering 5-6 team that raises more questions than they answer.
(Like are they really a 4-7 team that simply got lucky?)

All this frustrating talk of ours was conducted in an era when Michigan had a bona fide South Florida superstar like wideout Anthony Carter and Michigan State had RB Lorenzo White, each of whom were winning games of national importance.
I understand implicitly why someone of their unique caliber were, necessarily, out-of-reach for IU in the Lee Corso years, but must everyone down here with any talent remain un-touchable?

Having finally gotten Direct TV before last Fall, and the Big Ten Network, it's very discouraging as a Hoosier fan to see so many South Florida kids performing for not only Big Ten schools, of course, but, also seeing them play Michigan and Michigan State as the pride of Ypsilanti or Mt. Pleasant, MI, too.

Kids who could've been making a difference in Bloomington, but weren't.

Logically, why in the world should Eastern Michigan continually have better luck at recruiting kids in South and Central Florida than IU? Or Western Michigan for that matter?
And yet...

There were opportunities aplenty for IU and Coach Lynch a few months ago, when former NMB QB/DB Doug Wiggins, the Dolphins' 2006 Miami-Dade Player of the Year, was looking to transfer from the U-M.
So, what happened with Wiggins?

From my perspective, someone who attended his first Canes game at the Orange Bowl in 1971, last year was littered with lots of broken promises and self-evident poor coaching moves, as Randy Shannon constantly showed his multiple weaknesses as a head college football coach, showing himself as a Coordinator who's now out of his depth.

Against a middling North Carolina State team at the Orange Bowl, U-M completed exactly one pass in the entire game, even putting a WR behind center three times to try to get some offensive momentum generated.
In fact, by the middle of the third quarter, if not earlier, the Wolfpack defense was actually daring the Canes to pass -and they couldn't!
So naturally, after the season, whom did Shannon fire?
Yes, that's right, the Defensive Coordinator whom he'd personally promoted from DBs coach, even though the defense has been sliding steadily for four years due to lousy LB play while Shannon was the D-Coordinator.

Miami Herald quote:
" U-M's Randy Shannon has a good relationship with most local coaches, but North Miami Beach's Jeff Bertani said, "It would be difficult for me to send a kid to UM now. The trust is broken.''Bertani said former NMB standout Doug Wiggins -- who transferred to Western Michigan -- ''was told he had a torn hamstring, which he did not have, because they needed a reason to redshirt him after he played [the first two games].'' Shannon's response? "I don't know anything about that.''

Honestly, a school in IU's iffy position in the football world should've been ready to pounce on him in a second when he decided to transfer out, since he wasn't likely to play a lot at the U-M as a freshman, anyway, despite having been rated the nation's No. 4 cornerback and the No. 33 overall prospect by two years ago.

Instead, now Wiggins will be at Western Michigan and in two years will likely be MUCH BETTER than any defensive player IU has.

I'd be willing to bet that there are probably kids at Immokalee HS right now, up near Lake Okeechobee, that could play or start at IU, and yet based on experience, there seems very little chance that IU will even take a chance on them.

What's this great strategy at Assembly Hall to become a better and more competitive football team without getting a lot more talented players from Florida?
Sounds like the sports equivalent of Obama somehow imagining he'll win the Electoral College without the state of Florida?
Well, all empirical evidence suggests that both approaches, if continued, are destined to failure.

At a certain point, you don't have to be an IU-trained optometrist to know that something is short-sighted with their current approach, which as always, has them with few dependable playmakers.

I'd be very interested in knowing if any of you are familiar with anything that's been written within the past ten years that details how IU has continually missed the boat on Florida kids who could've added something positive to the campus and to the football program.
If so, please drop me a line with the appropriate URL, so that I'm no longer in the dark.

If not, I may just have to chronicle that sad story myself.

Just in case I didn't make my point strongly enough above, consider the following.
The second day I was ever in the state of Indiana, having flown up by myself from Miami on a late August Thursday afternoon in 1979, days before moving into Briscoe Quad and while checked into the Holiday Inn on S.R 37, I spent most of that afternoon watching the IU football team practice from up in the stands at Memorial Stadium, surrounded by a handful of devoted and curious Hoosier fans, male and female, in various shades of Cream and Crimson.
Yep, that's me.

Sadly, the Miami Herald article below speaks for itself, and is more of the same ol' bad news for Hoosier fans.
Columbus wideout Bush commits to Purdue
Posted on Mon, Jul. 07, 2008

Gary Bush, Columbus
Known for his tremendous speed, here is a player who certainly came into his own over the past year. While his quickness and ability to break receptions for long scores has been a lure for colleges, his knowledge of the game is also something that has played in his recruitment as well.

In this Hoosier-state recruiting battle, score one for the Boilermakers.

Columbus' Gary Bush, a 6-1, 180-pound wide receiver, orally committed to attend Purdue University on Sunday night. His decision came after campus visits to Indiana and Purdue two weeks ago.

For Bush, West Lafayette was the clear winner between the two.

''It was really a no-brainer,'' Bush said. "Me and the coach [Joe Tiller] just bonded. It felt like the right place for me to be. Indiana was nice, it was a lot like Purdue, but in the end I chose Purdue.''

He added that he and his parents talked about the long-distance move, but that he has family in nearby Indianapolis and that his folks "supported my decision.''

The explosive Explorer also received attention from Ole Miss, Boston College, Alabama-Birmingham, Troy State and Vanderbilt before ending his recruitment experience early.

The rising senior is a three sport-star who transferred to Columbus from Southridge after his sophomore year. In the 2007-2008 season, Bush was among the Explorers' leaders in receptions -- usually of the breakaway-variety -- while also earning a Miami Herald All-Dade honorable mention for basketball and a second-team slot on the All-Dade Track and Field team.

In a midseason game against Miami Beach, Bush put the game out of reach with a 38-yard touchdown catch against the smaller Hi-Tides secondary. He recorded a 33-yard TD a month later against South Miami. Columbus' deep-threat paced the team with 21.3-yards per catch on the season.

Bush runs a 4.5-40 yard dash and his leaping ability (23-10 long-jump) at 6-1 makes for a huge downfield target. His second place long-jump finish helped Columbus secure the District 15-4A championships in April.

Strength might be an issue, as Columbus coach Chris Merritt says ''there is no offseason'' for the multi-sport Bush to devote lots of time to the weight room.

''For a guy like him, it's more about just maintaining. It's hard with his schedule,'' said Merritt, who describes Bush as an "all-around Division I athlete.''

But Bush says he has a plan for that dilemma.

''We don't start camp for a little while, so right now I'm just in the weight room, doing the work,'' he said.

Bush insisted the answer is not to give up on his other athletic pursuits. He is quick to note that while he and the staff at Purdue talked about the possibility of playing hoops, "Track is a definite. I'll definitely be jumping.''

Reader comments are at:

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy 4th of July!

American flag in front of Hallandale Beach Water Tower on S. Surf Road,
Hallandale Beach, FL; Overcast at 5:15 p.m.
July 3, 2008 photo by South Beach Hoosier

Jessica Simpson, GQ, July 2005
Cover photo by Peggy Sirota, smile by Jessica!
USA Today
Simpson enlists in the pinup wall of fame
By César G. Soriano, June 30, 2005

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Where's the Disney World gun story in the Miami Herald?

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Below, an email I sent earlier this afternoon to Miami-area resident and longtime South Beach Hoosier favorite Matt Drudge, with the hopes that he'd turn his immensely powerful combination telescope and microscope of The Drudge Report in the general direction of Orlando and Miami.

This illuminating Orlando Sentinel story by Scott Powers and Jason Garcia is perhaps as good an example as any I'm familiar with that properly illuminates both the 'fixer' mentality and backroom-dealing culture of Tallahasseee, and the Miami Herald's own clueless-ness in the year 2008: a large organization that is neither deft enough nor quick enough on the draw to properly use the myriad resources it possesses, to the detriment of its remaining number of readers.

As to my own original thoughts below about the future of the Herald Building itself, consider yourself warned.

And yes, I'll admit, I completely forgot about the Terra Group's purchase of the building, but the general point still holds true.

Winner of the 2005 Best Architectural Eyesore: The Miami Herald Building, 1 Herald Plaza,
Miami, FL 33132-1609

See also:

Sometime soon, I'll share some thoughts on what it was like to be in that huge building in the late 1970's, and look out towards the bay from the desks of the Sports Dept. of the late and much-missed Miami News.
Thursday July 3rd, 2008
12:30 p.m.

Dear Matt:

I'm somewhat dumbfounded that you haven't yet linked to the infuriating story about Disney once again playing its Bigfoot card behind the scenes to carve out some special treatment for itself.

The story in today's Orlando Sentinel by Scott Powers and Jason Garcia is as clear and to the point as you could ask for.

Now, personally, me being me, I'd like for the article to have asked State Rep. Stan Mayfield, who helped craft the legislation, to publicly identify these lawyers" (i.e. lobbyists), who were able to $weet talk him and his committee into inserting such a patently deceitful exemption 'exception' on behalf of Disney & Co.
Yeah, I'd really like to know who they are.

The fact that the reputed largest newspaper in the state, the Miami Herald doesn't mention this story anywhere in the paper today, a front page story to be sure, and on its antiquated and third-rate website, rather than have their own reporters ferret out the true facts, runs two AP dispatches, the most recent of which contradicts/clarifies the first, is another larger question worthy of discussion.

Clarification: Parking Lot Guns-Disney story

Disney says it's exempt from new gun law

That's a question that might more reasonably be brought up in the not-too-distant future, when, aping the recent moves of The Tribune Company, McClatchy will likely raise the idea of selling the property where the Herald HQ is located, right on Biscayne Bay, where it's long been the largest eyesore on the Bay.

You can place this example of the Herald once again ignoring the troubles of a large state employer on the agenda/autopsy page, right after that delicious item I told you about the day it happened last September.

That was where the Herald ran a story in their third-rate Sunday opinion section, Issues & Ideas, shortly before a Dem presidential debate at the U-M, where one of their Latin America experts wrote that Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico was actually born in Mexico, which would surely come as shocking news to his mother, who was in Santa Monica, CA when Bill was born.

You'll recall that I stated to you at the time how this merely confirmed my own doubts about the tenuous grasp of the U.S. Constitution by most reporters, other than the Second Amendment, and in this case, not only the individual reporter at the Herald who wrote this, but his editors as well. A two-fer.

That this simple "fact" could've been discovered and refuted by a nine-year old in all of about 30 seconds via Richardson's own presidential or gubernatorial website, or that the newspaper never ran a correction, is just one of the many reasons why the Miami Herald has been in economic and editorial free fall for years.

Matt, I can hardly wait 'till the geniuses at The McClatchy Company try to re-assure their stockholders that they won't have any trouble getting the City of Miami or Miami-Dade County to change their zoning laws to accommodate McClatchy's desire to sell the property, and turn it into bayside luxury condos. (What else!)

That's when I think you'll see South Florida residents (inc. bloggers) decide that "what's good for the goose is good for the gander," and decide it's time for that area to become the beautiful bayside park it should've always been.
(The one the city and county completely botched with Bicentennial Park years and years ago, and are now trying to fix with their current equally flawed project.)

Then we'll see how dedicated to the concept of transparency and accountability the Miami Herald's Editorial Board is, when South Florida civic activists make it their business to give the proposed deal the highest possible degree of scrutiny.
You know, just for ol' times sake.

'Chinese wall' and all that.

Hmm... as of Noon, there were only 346 Orlando Sentinel reader comments on their website. That's like, what, the total of all comments to the Herald in a good week?
Exactly, hence my email to you now.

Please consider adding it before the 4th of July.



Orlando Sentinel
Walt Disney World fires back on guns at work
Scott Powers and Jason Garcia, Sentinel Staff Writers
July 3, 2008

Walt Disney World employees won't be packing any heat in the company parking lots anytime soon.

The giant resort has declared that much of its sprawling property is exempt from a new state law that allows Floridians with concealed-weapons permits to keep firearms locked in their cars at work.

Disney, which has 60,000 employees and a long-standing policy against allowing guns on its land, cites an arcane -- and late-added -- loophole in the new law, which took effect Tuesday.

To see the rest of the story:,0,4282076.story
Reader comments at:

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