Tag Archives: Miami District Two

We’re Getting the Band Back Together ► Unpacking The Writer

11/25/15: When Ken Russell arrives to take the oath of office, his spot is already reserved.

Hello again, Not Now Silly fans. Did you miss me? I missed you.

When we last spoke with any regularity, I was in the process of mothballing the Not Now Silly Newsroom. For those who missed it. I put this blog on hiatus after I signed a non-disclosure agreement with Miami District 2 Commissioner Ken Russell.

[Yes, that’s right. I have something in common with Stormy Daniels.]

I had approached him, pitching the idea of a book. I believe Russell’s story is one of those quintessential ‘Merkin stories: Young family man wakes up to city-made environmental disaster right outside his front door, fights inadequate backroom city hall remediation, effects adequate clean-up, gets bitten by the civic improvement bug, runs for public office a year later, and is elected to replace the [allegedly] corrupt Miami Commissioner with whom he battled. Of course I would have fleshed it out a little, starting with his father’s patent for mass producing the famous Russell Yo-Yo, which has been licensed by everybody from Sprite to Daft Punk.

After kicking around several ideas we both had — and various formats we could shoe-horn them into — Russell agreed to collaborate with me on a book. That’s when we signed the non-disclosure agreement that said I couldn’t reveal anything I learned from Russell until an eventual book came out. He couldn’t reveal anything I told him either, but what could I tell him?

Something that began to drive me nuts: This was the first time in all my years as an investigative journalist when I had some great, inside information, but couldn’t report on it due to the NDA. Russell called it the price of access. I called it an itch I couldn’t scratch.

After we agreed to this book project, Russell announced he was running for Florida Congressional District 27. Suddenly the stakes for the eventual book became a whole lot higher. I was gratified he trusted me enough to write his official biography, but knew the project had just become a whole lot more daunting and important.

Since then I’ve done hours and hours of interviews with Russell [every Sunday at 1PM for months], embedded with him on various civic duties, and talked to many people about him. As my research continued, the contours of the book began to take shape. However, I still had a long way to go; and the time in which to do it. The primary wouldn’t be until the summer and, if Russell won that, the general election in November. That would be the obvious place(s) to end any such a book, even though it wasn’t what I envisioned when I originally had this idea.

A rare quiet moment at the 2nd Annual Hash Bash Cup

While returning from a recent Road Trip [to Ann Arbor to cover the 2nd Annual Hash Bash Cup, which will eventually be part of a much larger article here], I decided to detour slightly to Covington, KY. Covington is just across the Ohio River from Cincinnati, but — more importantly — Covington is where Ken Russell’s father, Luther Jackson “Jack” Russell grew up in the ’20s and ’30s, almost a century ago. I wanted to see if I could find the Five & Dime in which Russell’s father demonstrated Yo-Yos as a teen for cigarette money.

Because I wasn’t sure I’d have time for this side trip, I didn’t tell Russell until it was confirmed in the itinerary. Here’s our text exchange:

ME: Hey there! Remember me? [Every one of my texts to him start the same way.] I have the opportunity to go Covington Kentucky tomorrow. It will add about a half a day to my trip. So, what’s new with you?
KR: I just quit the congressional run. I’m sticking around. Sorry I couldn’t tell you earlier, but I just decided yesterday.

IRONY ALERT: I didn’t know Russell had just announced he was withdrawing from the race when I asked, “So, what’s new with you?”

IRONY ALERT #2: I sent my text to him earlier that morning. By the time Russell responded I was in Elyria, Ohio, explaining to painter David Pavlak about the book I was writing about a politician. Pavlak saw the book project fall apart in real time as I was telling him how excited I was to be writing the book.

So . . . all that to explain why I’m kick-starting the Not Now Silly Newsroom. I wouldn’t be surprised if the engine runs a little rough for the next little while. It’s probably going to need points and plugs, and other enginey things that I can only imagine (because I’m not mechanical and rusty on metaphor).

I have a few ideas for some investigative stories, some of which have been percolating for a long time. I will also be relaunching UpLyfting Thoughts as UberLyfting Thoughts, adding new Throwback Thursdays and Saturday Morning Cartoons to the mix, and dropping new posts under the various other rubrics here.

Stay tuned, folks, and welcome back.

Trolleygate Sputters Back To Life

As the first journalist to write about Trolleygate, I couldn’t help but chortle over yesterday’s Miami Herald story about the white elephant also known as the Trolley Folly:

Why is this so funny? Let me count the ways:


2). The Miami Herald covering something in West Grove? It only seem to do that when there’s been a shooting.

The Herald seemed quite incurious about Trolleygate while it was happening. At the time everyone in West Grove knew how their [allegedly] corrupt former-Miami District 2 Commissioner, Marc D. Sarnoff, had sold them down the river. [How apt: A slavery reference.] However, the Miami Herald never reported on that aspect of the story, which allowed Sarnoff to slip away again.

3). I couldn’t help but be struck by the total lack of specificity in the article. I spoke to Commissioner Ken Russel by phone last evening, after this article was printed. He tells me he was not only misquoted by David Smiley, but he left out an important part of what was said.

Commissioner Russell says he told Smiley that he wasn’t going to do anything without input from West Grove, since those were the folks adversely affected by this bone-headed decision in the first place. [My paraphrase.]

3). This is not much of a scoop on the Herald’s part. Just like Trolleygate, I was there first. On November 12th I posted a short interview conducted with Commissioner-elect Russell in which we had this exchange:

NNS: Is there any big project you’ve got in mind? Something you want to try to do while in office.

Yeah, I would like to see something good come of the Trolley garage.
I’d like to see that building serve the community. And, I’ve heard a lot
of good ideas, but not in a formal setting to where I could say what
should be done with it, but it’s a symbol of how this part of town’s
been treated and, I think, in the same symbolic gesture should be
converted into something that builds up the community.

A community center would certainly do that.

4). While I am total agreement with Commissioner Ken Russell that a community center would be a good use for this building, and that West Grove could certainly use one, I can’t help but think this is just throwing good money after bad.

I’ve never seen a full accounting of how much money Miami flushed down the drain defending the building of this diesel garage that would have only served Coal Gables, a totally different city next door. However, there were several lawsuits launched against Miami, Coral Gables, and Astor Trolley. In the end it was determined that Trolleygate Violates 1964 Civil Rights Act ► Not Now Silly Vindicated. Every penny Miami spent to defend the out of town developer, over the interests of the community and its own constituents, was money wasted.

And, now the city may spend almost $4 million to, basically, get everyone off the hook.

5). If it were in my power I’d rename this building Marc Sarnoff’s White Elephant. As I have written previously, Sarnoff worked tirelessly on behalf of the developer to get this project approved. He set one neighbourhood group against another. He offered one of those groups a kind of bribe to not fight the garage. At a public meeting I attended he threatened West Grove neighbours with withdrawing his support for building Gibson Plaza. He also suggested he didn’t have to back the infilling of new homes in the neighbourhood if they didn’t play along. It was Sarnoff’s performance at this community meeting that prompted me to write Is Marc D. Sarnoff Corrupt Or The Most Corrupt Miami Politician?

However, Sarnoff was able to walk away without any of the blame — which the Miami Herald helped by not reporting on it — that should have been his due for having screwed his own constituents on behalf of an out of town developer.

6). This paragraph really jumped out at me:

[Developer Henry] Torres disputes that he or the city tried to ram the warehouse down the throats of unsuspecting West Grove residents, but he said he’s had previous discussions with Miami officials about selling the building to the city. There was talk at one point about a police substation, or a Bahamian consulate. Still, he said he hadn’t heard anything about Russell’s interest, or even received a call from the commissioner — which he found somewhat presumptuous.

This is simply not true. While Torres may not have PERSONALLY tried to ram the (((WAREHOUSE?))) down the throats of West Grove residents, he didn’t have to. Marc Sarnoff greased the wheels, slicked the tracks, and got this through “faster than a hot knife through butter,” as one of my sources put it at the time.

However, as I reported in BLOCKBUSTER!!! The Trolleygate Smoking Gun Surfaces, one eagle-eyed city Planning & Zoning drone named Dakota Hendon realized that the Miami21 plan would not allow this use of a building on that street and sent an email to his boss:

have a bit of a problem. The Coral Gables Trolley Station that I met
with you and the applicant on a few weeks ago appears to not be an
allowable use as we had originally anticipated. See the definition of
Auto-related industrial below. I believe this is specifically an
industrial use. At this point, they have already submitted for the
Warrant and action needs to be taken to stop the application.
Additionally, IDR was adamantly against the project in the specific
location.  Please call me to discuss at your convenience. 

Industrial Establishment: A facility conducting activities associated
with the repair or maintenance of motor vehicles, trailers, and similar
large mechanical equipment; paint and body work; major overhaul of
engine or engine parts; vehicle impound or wrecking yard; outdoor
vehicle sales, storage or repair; and government vehicle maintenance
facilities. This includes auto related Uses not otherwise allowed within
the commercial auto related establishment category.

So, what did the city of Miami do? It got Henry Torres, or underlings that work for him, to withdraw the application and then resubmit the application. They were identical, except that the new one didn’t talk about vehicle maintenance and repair. The new application made it sound as if it was just going to be a passive (((WAREHOUSE?))) of diesel trolley buses (an oxymoron. Trolleys are electric.).

When I discovered this memo I tried to find Dakota Hendon to see how this building got approved when he said it was non-conforming. Surprise! He no longer worked for the City of Miami. I actually tracked him to his new job in New York and left several messages. I never got a reply.

However, I’m starting to think it’s important that his boss was Francisco Garcia, City of Miami Planning Director. 

7). I had never met Francisco Garcia before I wrote Coconut Grove in Black and White, just another look at the disparity between Black and White neighbourhoods in Miami. Not only hadn’t I met him, but I didn’t remember he was the recipient of Dakota Hendon’s email (see above). Even dumber on my part: I had forgotten I had actually written about him in that post and, furthermore, asked some pointed questions of him:

1). Why does the written record end with the email from Hendon;
2). Did he follow up Hendon;
3). Who approved this project;
4). What contact did he have with [allegedly] corrupt Commissioner Marc D. Sarnoff over this project;
5). What contact did he have with Astor Development. 

If I had remembered all that I might not have walked up to him in that meeting to whisper in his ear. I wanted to ask him why South Grove was getting all this attention when
West Grove has trouble getting house rubble removed in under 6 weeks. I
also wanted to ask him about the NCD-2 rules (West Grove), which are different from
the NCD-3 rules (South Grove). My source told me that Garcia could answer all my questions.

I waited until he was not answering questions or batting back insults from the South Grove residents and was standing quietly on the side of the room. I handed him my card and said, “Headly Westerfield. I don’t want to waste your time at this meeting, or the meeting’s time, but I’d like to interview you about the NCDs.”

As he gave me his card, I can distinctly remember Francisco Garcia’s exact response, word for word: “I’d be happy to talk to you.”

However, he lied.

He has not responded to my several phone calls, which started the following day. Nor has he replied to my 3 emails. I’ve started CCing Commissioner Russell’s office in my emails to Garcia’s office.

Something tells me he’s dodging me.

That’s why I’m in the middle of a MASSIVE Freedom of Information request to the City of Miami’s Planning & Zoning Office. I’ll get what I need.

8). This article is a piece of crap. If the Miami Herald cared about the community, it might have published some of the above. If I can prove all of this, why can’t the Miami Herald with its humongous resources? Instead the Herald played along by calling this a (((WAREHOUSE?))), as opposed to a polluting diesel maintenance facility, the thing it was designed to be. Once again the Herald is protecting powerful people responsible for wasting shit loads of taxpayers dollars.

Reading that article you’d think it was the poor developer who was the victim, as opposed to West Grove that has had to suffer from systemic racism since their Bahamian ancestors built Coconut Grove with their own hands. Henry Torres will make his money back (and then some, it seems).

Marc Sarnoff got away scott free.

Dakota Hendon seems to have landed on his feet.

And, Francisco Garcia continues to make decisions in favour of developers that adversely affect the current residents of the neighbourhoods.

I went to the craziest Planning & Zoning meeting the other night hoping to confront Francisco Garcia. Sadly he wasn’t there. It was an appeal of a development in South Grove. After all the yadda yadda yadda it was decided — get this — that the Planning & Zoning department would follow the Miami21 plan when approving permits and warrants. That’s almost a tacit admission that it hasn’t been up to now. [See above.]

Smiley ended his article with this and made it a Patented Miami Herald Feel Good Story™:

But that idea [of a community center] sounds good to [Clarice] Cooper. And to [Anthony] Alfieri, the UM professor, it also sounds right.

“Given the West Grove’s Jim Crow history of municipal segregation in housing, education, and even public water access, and the current exploitation and displacement of long time West Grove residents,” Alfieri said, “Commissioner Russell’s proposed community center at the site of the misbegotten trolley garage is an important public policy initiative both to remedy past wrongs and to preserve and strengthen the surviving West Grove community.”

FULL DISCLOSURE: I also made a proposal for the Trolleygate building, which appears to have been rejected.

Treacherous Double-Dealing ► Unpacking The Writer

In our last exciting episode of Unpacking The Writer, Bang The News Slowly, I revealed my part in a brand new grassroots campaign to get Harry Nilsson inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Funny story. The wheels have come off that bus, but before I tell you how, here’s a reminder of what I wrote last month:

The most exciting news of the last month is the campaign to put Harry
Nilsson in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Every year when the RnRHoF
nominees are announced I scream, “What about Harry?” Then when I see who
is finally inducted, I just shake my head in despair. This year I
decided to do something about it.

Just a few days before last month’s Unpacking The Writer, I fired up a facebookery called Harry Nilsson for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
It was only a few days later that I discovered there was a similar page
started much earlier than mine. Had I known, I would have signed onto Harry Nilsson belongs in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame,
started by Todd Lawrence, instead. Todd and I connected soon afterwards
in IM. I assured him that I didn’t consider my page competition to his
and that we should cooperate for the greater good. It can’t hurt that
there are two such pages because we travel in different circles.

It wasn’t long before Todd asked we could add Gabriel Szoke, moderator of the Harry Nilsson facebook fan page, to our IMs. Then the 3 of us started kicking around various ideas to put #HarryintheHall. None of our plans are ripe enough to be revealed, but I can assure you that they are grandiose.

That was then. This is now, just a month later.

I probably would have kept this unpleasantness on the facebookery, and far away from the Not Not Silly Newsroom, had I not woken up yesterday to find that I was reported on facebook for contravening Community Standards.

No, really!

A post of mine (a rant, to be fair) was removed from Harry Nilsson for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the page I created to help in this campaign. Some crybaby went running to facebook to whine. That’s why I’ve reproduced it below, in case it’s removed again:

I had hoped not to air this dirty laundry, but I have now been contacted
by several people who appear to have had very similar experiences as I
have. Therefore, it’s time to go public.

 I started up this
facebookery not knowing there was a similar page started before mine run
by Todd Lawrence. When I discovered it, I contacted Todd and we agreed,
in essence, that we would work together cooperatively and not look at
the other as competition. All for ‪#‎HarryintheHall‬!!!
As we strategized in IM, he asked me if we could include Gabriel Szoke,
who was operating one of the Harry Nilsson facebookery pages. My
attitude was, “The more, the merrier!” Anything to get #HarryintheHall.

That’s when everything turned to shit. While we agreed to work
cooperatively, I seemed to have the only person who understood what that

I don’t want people to get the impression this is sour
grapes, but ideas I had were rejected. That is, until either Todd or
Gabriel came up with it a week later as if it was BRAND NEW. This ain’t
about taking credit, it’s about losing a week’s time in getting
something done.

When I called them on it, I was told we needed to
look forward, not backward. That phrase — an insidious form of
blame-dodging I’ve seen before — was to come up more than once.

agreed to agree on all actions, but suddenly emails with typos in them
started going out before we had even agreed on the wording or who would
be getting them. Again I was told to keep looking forward, not backward,
when I mentioned that we had agreed, yadda, yadda, yadda.

I was
tasked with writing a Manifesto, which I did because writing’s my game.
My manifesto was rejected out of hand. [I want people to understand I am
*NEVER* wedded to my words. 40+ years as a professional writer has
allowed me to work with any kind of editor from mild to red pencil
fiends. Editing improves the product. This isn’t about ego.] I was then
asked to ‘punch up’ what I thought was an inferior and pedestrian
approach as a manifesto. Eh? Oh, well. Anything to get #HarryintheHall.

So I started punching up this piece of shit. (Sorry, Todd. It was
awful. At least mine took a non-pedestrian approach to the topic. It
wasn’t dull, tedious, and cookie cutter.)

Meanwhile, I’d continue
making suggestions and Gabriel would tell me that I was stepping on his
toes because he’s the expert in that field (graphics, apparently). Yet,
time after time my expertise as a writer — one who has developed entire
media campaigns for record companies — who has written for all media,
was rejected. Cute, eh?

F’rinstance, I said that memes can be dashed
off in a minute and to prove it I fired up the Ol’ Meme Maker, made
one, and posted it here. Gabriel went wild in private, accusing me of
jumping the gun before we *AGREED* we were ready. He made me take it

*AND*, he took personal offense that memes can be dashed off, because that’s his field.

Again, when I brought this up I was told we are looking forward, not
backward. However, once he started calling for memes on his Nilson [sic] page,
he didn’t seem to care how ‘dashed off’ they were.

I was made to
feel as if my expressing an opinion in this triumvirate was totally
inconvenient. More to the point my opinion seemed inconvenient to
Gabriel trying to be The Point Man on everything, the one who will get
the credit and be able to hobnob with celebrities.

However, even
though I foolishly believed we were working cooperatively, I suspected
Todd and Gabriel of talking and making decisions behind my back (but
have no way to prove that). Actions kept getting made that hadn’t even
been discussed. That needed coordination between them.

Suddenly, and
without discussion or warning, there were a bunch of folks added to the
Put Harry in the Hall Google Group that we had been communicating in as
a trio. At first I thought, “The more the merrier.” However, just as
suddenly I was deleted from the Google Group.

No one ever spoke to
me about it. No one ever explained. In fact, I only discovered it for
myself when I thought the group had gotten too quiet, so I went to look.
If my removal was mentioned in the Google Group I would have no way of
knowing, of course.
However, I always suspected that I presented a
threat to Gabriel grabbing all the credit for himself. I was expressing
my ideas there and some of them might have been good. People may have
agreed with me. Best to get rid of me quietly before I upset his

Right then and there I decided to stop punching up Todd’s wishy-washy essay on Harry. HEY! I can take a fucking hint.

As I say, I wasn’t sure I wanted to go public with this, but this
morning I received the following IM from someone I have known online for

QUOTE: Hi Headly. Quick heads-up to be very careful of
Gabriel Stoke and his supposed Nilsson promoting group…he is only
interested in self promotion and is ousting any of us who have tried to
promote Harry on the Internet. .. He booted Roger Smith earlier and when
I messaged him to suggest that was not a good thing to do he booted me
and has blocked me from his group…. ENDQUOTE

He booted Roger
Smith? He booted the man who has had a Harry Nilsson tribute website
longer than than anyone else in the entire world? That Roger Smith? Hoo
However, I discovered, much to my regret, exactly the same

I will be the next person blocked because of this post. However, I
thought I had a duty to those people I had already talked to privately
about [SPOILER ALERT!!!] helping to mount concerts ALL AROUND THE WORLD
on Harry’s 75th Birthday. [But, I bet Gabriel wants to take all the
credit for that, too.] There had already been progress on Toronto and
Detroit shows and I had started putting out feelers for a show here in
Florida. Whether those will go forward or not remain to be seen.
Yesterday’s 74th birthday celebration left a very bad taste in my mouth.
I went from being very excited to be on the ground floor of something
that appeared to have enough momentum to achieve its goals, to being
turned into a passive bystander by two self-aggrandizing jerks, who are
only out for themselves. I can remain passive no more.

Apologies for the
drama, folks. Anyone who wishes to contact me privately to tell me of
their trials and tribulations will be welcomed. Maybe I’ll turn it into a
blog post, or a book.

If facebook is going to take my stuff down, I’ll post it here where it will not only stay, but will get even more eyeballs than where it had been. Congratulations, whomever reported me to facebook.

Meanwhile, what else is going on in this writer’s world this month?

The excitement builds as I am less than a month away from the 3rd Annual Sunrise to Canton Road Trip for Research. There’s still time to sign up if you want to get the full Aunty Em Experience.

This year, so far, I have tentative stops on the northbound leg planned for the Black History Museum in Macon, Georgia; Centerville, Ohio, “a real nice place to raise your kids up”; and Columbus, Ohio, which I was forced to skip last year due to a family issue.

I have more tentative stops scheduled for the southbound trek: Elyria, Ohio, to tour the new Elyria Art Depot; Akron, Ohio, where I will be taken on a tour of people and places important to Jim Bloor (to whom this road trip is lovingly dedicated); Steubenville, Ohio, where I will walk in the footsteps of Dean Martin, with whom I share a birthday; Wheeling, West Virgina, for a much needed coffee; Morgantown, West Virginia, the site of last year’s A Tribute to Don Knotts ► Morgantown’s Favourite Son; The Mothman Museum in Point Pleasant, Ohio; St. Augustine, Florida, just because it’s so old and so beautiful; and, lastly, Oviedo, Florida, before arriving home.

As of now, and subject to change, my trip will take 16 days, 5 hours, and 2 minutes (according to Microsoft Streets and Trips, a program no longer available) and I will have traveled 3063 miles, not accounting for side trips for sight-seeing. 

I wish I were leaving right now.

Closer to home, I have been rethinking the entire Headlines Du Jour column. 

I had been aggregating these headlines 3 days a week: Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday. However, the last month I’ve had to skip it a few times because of other commitments.

I’ve been compiling Headlines Du Jour for several years now, but it’s become something of a trap. It takes, on average, 2 hours to format the headlines I’ve collected since the last time. It takes even longer if I’ve been too busy to collect headlines before aggregating them.

To be perfectly honest, I’m bored with it.

I’ll continue with Headlines Du Jour until I leave for the 3rd Annual Sunrise to Canton Road Trip for Research, when it would have gone on a natural hiatus.

Whether it returns, or not, remains to be seen. I haven’t given up on it entirely. However, if I continue to compile the Headlines Du Jour, I’ll need a way to invigorate it. Feel free to send your suggestions.

As the Not Now Silly Head Writer I’ve been given a unique experience. Several of the candidates in Miami’s District 2 race have been talking to me OFF THE RECORD, everything embargoed until after the election. I’m hoping it will coalesce into a series of BEHIND THE SCENES stories about this election, which will be Miami’s most contentious.

As well, I have been going along with them on door knocks. The ground rules are that any conversation with voters is ON THE RECORD, but the stroll and chats are OFF THE RECORD.

Here’s what I can report: Almost everyone wants to talk about the current Miami District 2 Commissioner, [allegedly] corrupt Marc D. Sarnoff. The voters bring up his name before the candidates do. Which makes this a good time to remind readers about ABT — Anybody But Teresa, a little facebookery I fired up. It’s dedicated to making fun of the idea that [allegedly] corrupt Miami Commissioner Marc D. Sarnoff thinks he can buy and bully a commission seat for his wife, who has never shown any interest in city politics in the past 30 years.

Lastly, at least for this month, I have a number of posts half finished, for which I am waiting for callbacks, or am still researching the topics. If I finish them all, I’ll be very busy in the next 3 weeks, before I leave for my road trip.

Next month’s Unpacking the Writer will come from the road if I find the time.

Javier Gonzalez Kicks Off His District 2 Campaign

Last night Javier Gonzalez officially kicked off his campaign for Commissioner of District 2. This is the Not Now Silly Newsroom report from the scene:

It was a relaxed, low-key night of mingling and talking for about 80 folks, who came out to give Gonzalez a hearty send-off. However, most people who arrived were shocked — SHOCKED I TELLS YA!!! — that he was wearing pants. Friend after friend would arrive, take one look, and make that as their first comment. This reporter even reminded the candidate of the promise he made early in the campaign, to whomever would listen, that the one thing he wouldn’t do is dress up to run for Commissioner.

Foreground: Gonzalez in a tuxedo in the same pose as background

It suddenly seemed important to get to the bottom of this new District 2 controversy. Using my finely honed investigative reporter skills, I managed to confirm — with photographic evidence no less — that this was not the first time Gonzalez wore something other than shorts.

People know the real estate agent as a casual dresser, who shows off expensive houses in sandals, shorts, and Guayaberas. He recently resigned as Chair of the Coconut Grove Village Council in order to run for Commissioner, although he still retains his seat on the CGVC.

District 2 appears to be a gerrymandered district, a long, thin strip running down the coast, which encompasses many extremely different neighbourhoods that have little in common. Coconut Grove, South Grove, West Grove, Brickell, and Downtown, are as different from each other as cars are from apples. While Gonzalez talked about the other parts of District 2, he stressed that he’s lived virtually his entire life in Coconut Grove and no candidate will fight for it as hard as he will. Watch:

FULL DISCLOSURE: While I have yet to endorse a candidate for District 2 — and may not — I can confirm Gonzalez’s commitment to Coconut Grove due to the relationship we have forged over the last few years. Javier and I have never met to socialize, but if I have a problem getting info from the city, or have a concern about a West Grove issue, Gonzalez has always been there to smooth the tracks or to tell me I’m way off base. Long before he ever considered running for District 2 Commish, we’ve had each other on speed dial. On more than one occasion I’ve phoned him up with something I thought he should take a look at and he rushes right over to see for himself.

As all candidates must do, when they meet with potential constituents, Gonzalez addressed the money issue, which seems even more important this time around. According to Gonzalez, one of the candidates (whom he didn’t name), could spend as much as $750,000 on the District 2 race by the time the ballots are counted. He said his team crunched the numbers and he believes he only needs $200,000 to get the job done. Then he put a very light touch on the assembled, asking them to contribute to his campaign.

Earlier in the day, before I left for the campaign event, I IMed a friend who is carefully weighing the candidates in District 2. I invited them to the Gonzalez Campaign Kick-Off. Here’s how that convo went:

ME: I just wanted to let you know that Javier Gonzalez, who resigned as Coconut Grove Village Council Chair in order to run for Commissioner, is having a Campaign Kick-Off event today at 6:30 at Berries in the Grove. There will be free food & drink, as near as I can tell, and you get to meet another candidate for the office while he tries to hit you up for money.

I’ll be there just to ask who picked out that colour scheme.

THEY: [R]eally, someone needs to talk about that color scheme.  It’s a serious offense to the electorate.  Maybe see you there so we can both explore this in depth with him.

THEY [much later]: You know, I reconsidered that color scheme and it’s far worse than I thought initially.  It’s a threat to our very way of life, our freedoms, and our democracy.  Something has to be done.  Can we call out a drone strike on them?

Thankfully, I didn’t see a single campaign poster with those colours and
the ones scattered around the event were not quite so . . err . . .
striking, sticking to teh time-honoured Red, White and Blue. Here are some other images taken at the Javier Gozalez Campaign Kick-Off event:

Coconut Grove Is Not Out Of The Woods Yet

Lorry Woods had a great smile & a great idea to meet the voters in Coconut
Grove. The Not Now Silly Newsroom’s Head Writer will get to it eventually

Headly Westerfield, Not Now Silly‘s Head Writer, was out on the campaign trail for the second time this week. This time he wasn’t chasing Marco Rubio. Here’s his report from the Lorry Woods BBQ Judging Meet & Greet.

It was a beautiful day in Miami that started with some cloak and dagger skullduggery. There’s a person I have been pumping for information about one of the ongoing stories I’m writing about. At the same time they have a story about [allegedly] corrupt Miami Commissioner Marc D. Sarnoff that can barely be believed, but no one puts it past him. We’d been exchanging phone calls and text messages for a while and it was finally time to meet.

There’s nothing I love better than meeting up with whistle-blowers and this one was providing a rare two-fer. [For now, that’s all I”ll reveal.] This person wanted to meet out of their own neighbourhood, so that no one who knew either of us, would see us. I let them choose and it was Panther Coffee, in Wynwood.

I’ll never go back there again, if I can help it.

To start with, one needs a credit card to park in that neighbourhood. It’s all Pay by Phone, or Pay by Phone App. Either way, you’ll need a credit card to complete the transaction. I was told there are some machines in the area, but I drove around several blocks and never saw them. However, I saw blocks and blocks of Pay by Phone only parking.

This is just another area of life where the Have Nots are screwed. If they don’t have a smart phone and/or credit card, they’re not parking their cars in Wynwood.

Panther Coffee is a tiny little place that’s so crowded, that if one of the 4-seat tables is occupied, there’s no room to pull out a chair at the adjoining table. Additionally, there’s nothing in that room to baffle the sound. It bounces off every wall. The din was so loud I could barely hear the person talking right next to me.

Lastly, the Have Nots probably can’t afford Panther Coffee, either.

People make fun of my Starbucks addiction, but I go there because I like the taste of their coffee. I pay $2.50 for “Biggest/Boldest,” or a straight Venti brew. A smaller cup of coffee at Panther was $3.75. You read that right: $3.75 for a plain cup of coffee. Furthermore, I stood in line for 18 minutes, because I timed it, while the 6 hipsters in line ahead of me ordered complicated drinks and food from a more complicated menu. They need a COFFEE ONLY line, or find a way to speed up that whole process.

I repeat: I’ll never go back to Panther Coffee again, if I can help it.

My whistle-blower had a lot to say about [allegedly] corrupt Miami Commissioner Marc D. Sarnoff. Of course, it all needs to be confirmed before I can print it. However, if only 10% of it is true, it becomes a game-changer.

From Wynwood I was going to a Lorry Woods Meet & Greet in Coconut Grove, dipsy-doodling the 7 miles along surface streets until I got to the E.W.F. Stirrup House. A citation on the gate alerted me to the fact that the house is now owned by a different company than had owned it previously. Previously the house was listed as owned by Stirrup Properties, Inc. Now it’s owned by EWFs No 1 LLC. It will also take a bit of investigation to learn why there has been a change. The house is still in the Stirrup family, but one of the officers appears to have been removed. It’s ironic that E.W.F. Stirrup, III, is no longer listed as one of the owners of the E.W.F. Stirrup House.

Donna Barnett, who lives across the street, poses at the fence
telling her she is on camera. This reporter has seen no cameras.

Next I visited Marler Avenue.

I’ve written about Marler before, in Where The Sidewalk Ends, Racism Begins; Chapter Three. In the 6 months since, the offending neighbours on Loquat have built a HUGE wooden fence just behind the property line, which is indicated by the picket fence on the extreme right in the picture left. (TO BE FAIR: It’s a beautiful HUGE wooden fence.)

To remind readers, the picket fence is the remnants of the wall the City of Miami ORDERED to be erected to keep West Grove out of South Grove. Or, to put it into stark relief: to keep Black folk out of Whitey Town. Each chapter of Where the Sidewalk Ends documents another section of that wall built to circumscribe the lives of the Black folk living in West Grove.

Not a lot has changed in the many years since the residents of Loquat moved their backyards into the public Right Of Way that would have connected Marler Avenue to Douglas Avenue. Six months ago a neighbour on Loquat bumped out a portion of his fence 5 feet into the Marler Right Of Way. At the time I interviewed a number of residents about the new fence and they were all outraged that a homeowner would steal public land, just like in the old days. However, they were also resigned to the fact that no one would care.

I did what I could to disabuse them of that idea: “City Hall will definately care. Call them
up and complain. Call up the NET office. Call the city inspectors.”

Since then I visit Marler Avenue whenever I am in West Grove to see if anything has changed. This time some of the neighbours were outside and recognized me. “Hey! I thought you said we could get this fixed!”

But, it gets worse.

Donna Barnett, who I spoke to 6 months ago, told me a horror story about a recent incident. Apparently she mouthed off to the neighbour who built the [allegedly] illegal fence. Whether she was loud, or rude, is hardly the question, so I didn’t ask. Next thing you know a cop is knocking on her door. The Loquat neighbour called the police on her, who were not so busy with actual crime they didn’t have time to visit Barnett’s house. Barnett tells me the neighbour is Latino and so was the cop who responded.

The cop threatened to arrest her if she exercised her First Amendment Rights again, by yelling at the neighbour, who is the one breaking the law. Then he commented on the condition of her property in a threatening manner, as if he could see to it that the property is cited for infractions. And then he got extra offensive, saying, “If I lived here, I’d build a fence, too.”

TRANSLATION: This is a bad neighbourhood filled with Black folk and people were right to wall it off from polite society.

Lorry Woods meets with a voter

It was after this interview on Marler that I drove the few blocks north to the Lorry Woods Meet & Greet on Grand Avenue. It was held in the parking lot behind the Coconut Grove Collaborative Office.

I was impressed with Lorry Woods as an authentic person. She wasn’t putting on airs. She wasn’t telling people about herself, as much as she was asking questions and listening to the concerns of the residents. I overheard her in deep conversation with many potential constituents on a variety of topics.

I was more impressed by the idea behind the Meet & Greet. To draw West Grove residents, the Lorry Woods Campaign sponsored a BBQ Contest between Mango Man and Warren, a gent with a smoker on Hibiscus Street at Franklin Avenue who serves up delicious BBQ. The locals who wandered back to the campaign event would get a free plate of chicken. Then they’d vote on which BBQ joint they liked best. [FULL DISCLOSER: I didn’t taste the ribs because I don’t partake in campaign food & drink. I even bring my own water. I’ve eaten at Warren’s, and have interviewed him as well. It all smelled delicious.]

To be perfectly honest, I didn’t find out a lot when talking to Lorry Woods, but that’s entirely my fault. During introductions I mentioned that I was researching the history of West Grove and the E.W.F. Stirrup House. She showed interest and asked a few questions, so I gave her a 5 minute capsule history lesson. Then, remembering I had just come from Marler Avenue, I gave her another 5 minute capsule history of that street, The Colour Line in Coconut Grove, and then brought her up to date on what I had just learned on Marler Avenue. By that time the voters started arriving, so we had to wrap it up.

I shouldn’t really give a candidate advice, but what’s the harm? Unless she’s stupid, and I don’t think there’s a chance of that, she’s already figured this out: Miami events need shade.

People were tucked up tight against the back wall of the parking lot, where there was only a small sliver of shade. The event could have used better signage, as well:

Couldn’t you have, at least, put FREE FOOD on the sign? When people who walked by asked me what was going on, that’s what I told them: “It’s a BBQ judging contest with free BBQ.” Everyone who heard that came to take a look. However, many people just walked past, unaware of the event at all, despite the signboard.

Those are nits to pick at this Lorry Woods picnic. It was a wonderful community event that brought many old friends together, some who hadn’t seen each other for a while. Also in attendance was Thelma Gibson, the matriarch of the family for which Gibson Plaza is named.

Gibson Plaza, across the street from the Collaborative Office, appears to be nearing completion. A Grand Day For Grand Avenue ► Gibson Plaza Groundbreaking was published here just a year ago. I won’t repeat how important a project this is for Coconut Grove, other than to say this is the first development in decades that was not designed to generate as much money as possible for developers.

Which brings us back to this election. Right now the developers and Big Money Boys have helped the wife of [allegedly] corrupt Miami Commissioner Marc. D. Sarnoff, Teresa, amass a war chest in the neighbourhood of $333,000, which is a damned expensive neighbourhood. It’s magnitudes more than the other 7 candidates put together.

Candidate Lorry Woods owns Elwoods Gastro Pub on NE 2nd Street in downtown Miami. I have to admit, the lack of an apostrophe crawls up my back. The only thing that would make up for that is learning it is named after Elwood Blues, but that’s not likely, considering all the British motifs in the pictures on line.

However, I’d like to know her opinion on Miami’s runaway development, which is my opinion on it. A restaurant owner on 2nd Street would logically be pro-development. More people could only help their bottom line.

I’ll also gauge Lorry Wood’s interest in West Grove issues going forward. The people of Brickell and downtown Miami don’t need a champion at City Hall. The Developers, who have held sway over City Hall for far too long, don’t need a champion at City Hall. Even restaurateurs don’t need a champion at City Hall. These are groups or individuals with resources, who can afford $3.75 cups of cofffe at Panther without flinching.

However, yesterday Lorry Woods saw with her own eyes some of the people in a neighbourhood disadvantaged by 120 years of systemic racism. Can she be their champion? As Trolleygate, Soilgate, and, now, Marlergate demonstrate: this racism is not confined to the past. This neighbourhood, and Overtown, needs someone at City Hall who will speak for them.

Here are several more of the pictures. I took yesterday:




Then I wandered down the street to the Kroma Gallery. The artwork is always changing and always wonderful and thought provoking.




I also walked past the Ace Theater, designated historical like the E.W.F. Stirrup House, but being better cared for even though it’s boarded up. At one time the Ace Theater was the only movie house where Coconut Grove’s Black folks could go. The Coconut Grove Theater, later the Coconut Grove Playhouse, apparently allowed the daughters of E.W.F. Stirrup to go inside, but they were the exception that proved the rule. And, the only reason they were the exceptions was because their father sold the land on which the Playhouse was built.


Raking Muck in the Big Miami ► Unpacking The Writer

An app that allows me to pretend
I’m being sketched on the beach.

Hold on, dear readers! It’s that time of the month when I pull back the curtain like Toto did to the Wizard of Oz and reveal a bit more of myself. AUNTY EM!!! AUNTY EM!!!

But first, A NOT NOW SILLY NEWSROOM ALERT: Further to The Coconut Grove Playhouse Trojan Horse, my 2-part investigative report from last week: While [allegedly] corrupt Miami Commissioner Marc D. Sarnoff has yet to answer any of my 11 questions, I did get an apology from the Miami Parking Authority and a confirmed time and date for a meeting with CEO Art Noriega. Hopefully I can answer some of the Charles Street neighbours’ questions afterwards.

Right after The Coconut Grove Playhouse Trojan Horse was published Friends of Merrie Christmas Park reminded me of When Miami Commissioner Marc D. Sarnoff Lied To My Face. So I wrote up that exciting episode as well and posted it here a few days later. It’s all part of my relentless campaign to elect ABT – Anybody But Teresa in Miami’s upcoming District 2 election. Maybe I should start a PAC and then buy some radio adverts. But, since I can’t afford that, why not join my facebookery of the same name? Trust me, you’ve done worse things in your life.

Nine years ago, when I moved from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, back to ‘Merka, the land of my birth, the last thing I figured I’d be doing is getting involved in ‘Merkin politics. I lived in Canada for 35 years — more than twice as long as I lived in the States — taking out Canadian citizenship in the process. To become a citizen of Canada I had to swear an oath to Queen Elizabeth II, her heirs and assigns. In that oath I swore that I would not serve in the armed forces of another country, nor would I vote in their elections. While it’s an oath I take seriously, once I got down here in Florida I was inexorably drawn into ‘Merkin politics. 
My political foray began as Aunty Em Ericann, my alter ego when I was writing for NewsHounds, the motto of which is “We watch Fox so you don’t have to.” I looked at Aunty Em as performance art, which I carried on for years. Being Aunty Em freed up my writing style considerably. She threw out a lot of the rules of writing and started inventing her own words and lexicon, a tradition I continue here and on the facebookery.

I wrote so many columns for NewsHounds that sometimes, when I’m researching the Friday Fox Follies for PoliticusUSA, I trip over an article of mine that I don’t even remember writing. However, they always make me laugh, which is my primary purpose in life: making myself laugh. If I can make myself laugh with my own writing, then maybe you will too. The supreme compliment, as far as I’m concerned, is “That was funny.”

I still think one of my funniest columns for NewsHounds is retold in The Day I Shook Hands With Glenn Beck ► Nostalgia Ain’t What It Used To Be. Your mileage may vary.

The E.W.F. Stirrup House continues to rot away in
the hands of a rapacious developer. This is what
nearly a decade of Demolition by Neglect looks like.
As my longtime readers know — but I pick up Newbies alla time — my ongoing project has been my 5-years-and-counting source of fascination, the 120-year old E.W.F. Stirrup House in Coconut Grove, Miami, Florida. Every story I’ve written about Coconut Grove has been a direct outgrowth of my continued research of Ebeneezer Woodbury Franklin Stirrup, his place in the late 1880s, and how he created a place that was, at one time, unique in this country.

I’ve written so much about him that I won’t repeat any of it today, but take a gander at Happy Birthday Coconut Grove!!! Now Honour Your Past to see why it’s important to save his legacy, Then read Shocker!!! E.W.F. Stirrup House Plans Are Finally On File to see how badly this house, so important to the history of Coconut Grove, has been mismanaged.

Not Now Silly explores the historic Coconut Grove Colour Line:
Where The Sidewalk Ends, Racism Begins; Part I; Part II; Part III

As usual, I digress. I was talking about Miami politics. There was a time — and not all that long ago — I couldn’t have told you where District 2 was. Now I have people calling me up to test the waters for a run as Commissioner in District 2. Whether I really want to be involved in the District 2 race, I’m still being inexorably drawn in. So far I have only thrown my weight behind Anybody But Teresa. If, at any time, I come out in favour of a candidate, you’ll be the first to know.

Lately, I’ve also been getting more tips from sources who wish to remain anonymous. It takes a long time to nurture a secret source. So many people have been burned by journalists before. Occasionally, before my sources share their tip, they tell me how they’ve been burned. However, my sources trust that OFF THE RECORD truly means OFF THE RECORD. That’s how I get people to talk.

It takes time to chase down these tips and not all of them pan out. F’rinstance, The Coconut Grove Playhouse Trojan Horse, took a year’s worth of research, some of which included just sitting in parking lots observing for hours on end. At the time I didn’t even know I’d be writing an article about parking. Someone who read that story alerted me to an even bigger story of potential skulduggery and malfeasance. If true, this is EXPLOSIVE!!! This source has been solid on every tip so far, but getting to the truth of this one could be difficult. First I need to know which sewer to start dredging. As they say on the Tee Vee Tubery, STAY TUNED.
Not Now Silly set a new, all time record for readers in January, 2015.
NOT NOW SILLY HOUSEKEEPING: I know, I know, I know . . . I keep promising a new, improved Not Now Silly Newsroom, but what can I tell you at this point? I’m keeping up my end of the bargain by posting stories that my readers want to CLICK on. I no longer know what’s holding things up on the end of my Web Master.

To think this started as a casual conversation in July that began, “How can I monetize my web site?” That’s when the suggestion was made that I’d have to jump onto a WordPress template for that to happen and, while you’re at it, you may as well buy your own domain name. I replied, as I have to others who said the same thing, “But, I don’t want to lose everything that’s been posted up to now at the Not Now Silly Newsroom.” He’s the first guy to say, “You don’t have to,” so he began the process of moving everything to the new platform and template, which I love and approved months ago. Now I’m just waiting for the other shoe to drop. And waiting patiently, I might add.

If you have any suggestions for me in that area, I’d love to hear it. 

Lastly, Pops celebrated his 89th birthday on Valentine’s Day. He’s the reason I came to Florida. After the death of my mother almost 10 years ago he asked me if I would come down and help him. He didn’t really need taking care of. He still golfed almost every day and was totally capable of taking care of himself. However, he had no idea of the magic created in the kitchen. He couldn’t even fry an egg, let along make himself dinners.

However, every year there is less and less he can do for himself. He’s no longer driving long distances, sticking to just local runs. He stopped golfing, but still meets the boys out on the course every morning. He walks with a cane, but most of the time he’s only using it for balance, swinging it parallel to the ground. That’s why it’s dangerous to walk in front of him or behind him. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve been poked already.

So there it is, the life of a writer for another month. Tune in sometime during March for another exciting episode of Unpacking the Writer, from the real files of the Not Now Silly Newsroom. In the meantime, we rejoin the regular Not Now Silly Newsfeed, already in progress.

When Miami Commissioner Marc D. Sarnoff Lied To My Face

Just like on Batman, the lair of the criminals is crooked.

Mea culpa. I should have written this up in December, when it happened, but that would make me merely another reporter to whom [allegedly] corrupt Miami Commissioner Marc D. Sarnoff lied. That’s hardly news, but better late than never. 

A bit of background. On December 9th I attended the Douglas Park Soilgate Dog and Pony Show. This was merely the latest, fancy, multimedia production, mounted at taxpayers expense by [allegedly] corrupt Miami Commissioner Marc D. Sarnoff in another frantic effort to mollify constituents after they realize they’ve been hoodwinked, as opposed to the elected representative being upfront with his constituents in the first place.

Read about a previous Sarnoff Dog and Pony Show:
The Trolleygate Dog And Pony Show

I didn’t write about Douglas Park Soilgate Dog and Pony Show because: 1). It was a total yawnfest, even though at the end of the meeting [allegedly] corrupt Miami Commissioner Marc D. Sarnoff lied to my face; 2). I really had nothing new to say on the topic after I shot my wad posting Marc D. Sarnoff ► Everything Old Is New Again in November. That post documented the Sarnoff Skulduggery™ that slicked through Brownfield designations against 6 Miami parks, and 6 adjacent neighbourhoods, before anyone could notice. To quote myself:

[Michelle] Niemeyer is the lawyer who has been advising and working with the Friends of Merrie Christmas Park. She’s managed to help them understand and negotiate the extremely complicated thicket of Miami, Miami-Date, Florida and U.S. environmental laws that go into effect once a neighbourhood has been designated a Brownfield site.

According to Niemeyer, the entire process for designating the 6 neighbourhoods around the toxic parks Brownfield sites was flawed from the get-go. The Brownfield designation was slapped on these neighbourhoods without the proper notification, no matter how many publications in which the city claims it was published. There are supposed to be public meetings before any decisions made and none were held.

During the Douglas Park Soilgate Dog and Pony Show Deputy City Manager Alice Bravo refered to this flawed process in an oblique way and I wanted to get [allegedly] corrupt Miami Commissioner Marc D. Sarnoff on the record. That’s why right at the end of the Douglas Park Soilgate Dog and Pony Show, I raised my hand to ask a question. Unfortunately, because I had already written about the Sarnoff Skulduggery™, he was prepared for my question. I had barely begun before he cut me off to tell me there had never been a Brownfield designation.

“Does that answer your question?” he challenged.

“No, not really.” And, so I started to ask the question again in a slightly different manner. Once again he cut me off to say there had never been a Brownfield designation.

As I started to ask the question a third time, [allegedly] corrupt Miami Commissioner Marc D. Sarnoff cut me off again to say the same damned thing. That’s when I gave up. The meeting was breaking up, it was getting loud in the room, and no one really cared about the answer but me. And, even I didn’t care that much because the record shows he is duplicitous liar every time he opens his mouth. However, at least I had him on the record that there was no Brownfield designation, just another lie to a reporter and his own constituents.

[Maybe I didn’t write about the meeting because I’m embarrassed that I allowed [allegedly] corrupt Miami Commissioner Marc D. Sarnoff to bully me off my question. I kicked myself over and over on the drive home. However, as I have clearly demonstrated, he’s not inclined to answer any questions from me anyway.]

I was reminded of all of this Tuesday when I got an email from Ken Russell announcing Merrie Christmas Park is almost ready to reopen. To remind you, Russell led the neighbour revolt that got the toxic soil removed from Merrie Christmas Park. He’s also recently teased that he’s considering challenging Teresa [is it too early to call her corrupt?] Sarnoff, wife of [allegedly] corrupt Miami Commissioner Marc D. Sarnoff, in the Miami District 2 race, already crowded with 6 people vying to topple the Sarnoff Dynasty.

FULL DISCLOSURE: This reporter runs a kidding-on-the-square Facebook page called ABT – Anybody But Teresa. Come join the fun.

Russell managed to get the park cleaned up to the neighbours’ satisfaction despite the best efforts of [allegedly] corrupt Miami Commissioner Marc D. Sarnoff to present them with a fait accompli, a bizarre take-it-or-leave-it deal that would have had the neighbours chipping in for the cost of removing the toxic soil.

Yes, you read that right. For some reason [allegedly] corrupt Miami Commissioner Marc D. Sarnoff thought the residents should pay to remove the toxic soil the city dumped in their local park. As it turned out an anonymous donor coughed up the dough for the toxic soil
remediation and the work went ahead. That’s just another [possibly
illegal] deal [allegedly] corrupt Miami Commissioner Marc D. Sarnoff
cooked up behind closed doors. So far he has refused to name the
anonymous donor, which pisses all over the Florida Sunshine Law. But, I digress.

In his email Russell reminds his neighbours: 

Brownfield Designation:
Several months ago, the Commissioners quietly voted to declare this and 5 other parks as Brownfield Sites so that they could get money from the State and [be] release[d] from liability after the cleanup.  Through research, we learned that proper notification wasn’t given to residents and that this particular use of the Brownfield [law] wasn’t appropriate.  So the State is not recognizing the City’s ordinance.  However, for us, it’s important that the City officially reverse their decision to declare our neighborhood parks as Brownfields so that there would be no future confusion or stigma.  I received a call from Deputy City Manager Alice Bravo confirming that at the next Commission meeting (not this week), that the Commissioners would bring it back up for a vote to reverser [sic] their earlier vote.

How can a city reverse a vote that [allegedly] corrupt Miami Commissioner Marc D. Sarnoff tried to tell me to my face had never been made? Because, you see, it’s not just a game of semantics. This affects people’s lives and property values, something that [allegedly] corrupt Miami Commissioner Marc D. Sarnoff doesn’t seem to understand as he moves all these chess pieces on a board, playing both sides without any oversight.

At the Friends of Merrie Christmas Park Facebook Page Russell elaborated on this Sarnoff lie:

If anyone tells you that the City never designated the 6 parks as Brownfields, ask them about this attached signed approved memo from the City Manager’s office. I have been promised by Alice Bravo (City Deputy Manager) that Sarnoff has promised to un-do the designation through a vote at a Commission meeting later this month.(even though the State never recognized the designation, it’s important that the City withdraw their intention to designate).

If you go to the Friends of Merrie Christmas Park Facebook Page. you will see that Ken Russell has helpfully posted the minutes of the July 24, 2014, Miami City Commission meeting. Because of Sarnoff’s failure to adequately notify the residents around 6 parks and to provide public forums prior to any city vote on Brownfield designations, the motion passed will not be recognized by the State of Florida and now has to be undone. 

This District 2 race is shaping up to be a lot of fun for the Not Now Silly Newsroom.

Jammed For Time ► Unpacking The Writer

Lately, it seems, I’ve spent more time in the car than writing.

Welcome, dear readers. Returnees know this as the regular post pulling back the curtain — AUNTY EM!!! AUNTY EM!!! — to reveal the work process of the prefrontal cortex of a writer’s brain.

My biggest problem is I have far more ideas for Not Now Silly articles than I have time to write. I also seem to have less time to write. F’rinstance, usually I start crafting Unpacking The Writer around the 15th of the month. Then, over the next 5-6 days I come back to it from time to time and add and subtract a paragraph here, or there. I don’t really work on it as much as let it evolve slowly. However, this month’s Unpacking The Writer will be started, and finished, on the same day. I’m jammed for time. That’s why I’m going to quote a long thing I already posted on the facebookery. You can skip right to it, if you are so inclined.

For those who are still with me: I continue to research one particular Coconut Grove story. As I collate my research and write up what’s already known, I’m still awaiting some replies to a few outstanding emails which now appear lost in the cyber spaces between here and there. I can’t imagine why [allegedly] corrupt Miami Commissioner Marc D. Sarnoff has yet to reply. I suppose it’s time to give him a gentle nudge that his constituents are still looking for answers.

Speaking of Sarnoff, his wife Teresa made it official: She’s running to replace him in District Two because he’s term-limited and they believe in political dynasties. She’s never shown an inkling for public office until recently. That’s when her [allegedly] corrupt husband realized they’d have to get off the government gravy train — and the fat skimmed off the gravy — once he had to go back to being just a simple country bumpkin lawyer.

Not Now Silly has never directly engaged in a political campaign before. However, this year the stakes are too great to just sit back and let events take their course. This is the year the Not Now Silly throws its editorial staff into the Miami District Two Commissioner race. Miami District Two is where West Grove sits, where The Colour Line exists, where Trolleygate and Soilgate are still unresolved issues. After 6 years of researching and writing about Coconut Grove, I can tell you without fear of contradiction that this community — also known as Black Grove — has gotten the short end of the stick for the last 125 years. That’s why the Newsroom is jumping into the fray.

To that end the Newsroom launched a page on the facebookery: ABT – Anybody But Teresa. The official position of this vast media enterprise is that even Rob Ford would be a better candidate for District Two than Teresa Sarnoff. Is it too early to put the “[allegedly] corrupt” in front of her name? Or, far too late?

Also running in District Two is Mike Simpson, a gent I’ve never met and am slowly learning about; Rosa Palomino, who helped host me on Miami After Dark to talk about the E.W.F. Stirrup House; and Grace Solares, which leads to a funny story.

Arriving at Grand Central Park at sunset,
after driving 35 miles in rush hour traffic.

Transferring into the 3rd person: It’s noted that Brad Knoefler*, owner of the nightclub that hosted the Official Solares Campaign Kickoff, railed against “elitist, exclusivist policies with closed door deals with our tax money.” Funny story about that. The Newsroom sent its head writer, Headly Westerfield, to the Official Solares Campaign Kickoff. He posted of this GIANT MEDIA FAIL on his facebookery, but it deserves further dissemination:

I have to say I am VERY unimpressed with the Grace Solares campaign for Commissioner in Miami’s District Two. I went to her OFFICIAL CAMPAIGN KICKOFF tonight. Here is my report:

I learned of the Grace Solares 2015 campaign kickoff from a posting
on Facebook. Since she’s a community activist, I thought I’d see what a
community activist sounds like on the campaign trail. I even sent a
facebook message to the campaign earlier in the day to say I’d be there.

I arrived about 20 minutes early and a guy introduced himself to me
(and I promptly forgot his name). I introduced myself back to him. He
asked if I had met Grace before. I said, “No, but the more important
question is. ‘Where’s the washroom?’ ”

Keep in mind I had just driven 35 miles on a tank of coffee.

After I took care of the important business I went to the back of the
campaign room (in the Grand Central nightclub), set up my camera and
tripod and sat down to wait.

A guy came up to me and asked if I was taking video or stills.

“Stills, but what difference would it make?”

“None, but I’m the tech and need to know.”

Well, that made absolutely no sense at all. But, surprisingly, it made far more sense than what followed.

Right at the stroke of 6PM a very large security guard came up to me
and asked to see my invitation. This is our approximate conversation:

“An invitation?”

“Yes, this is an invitation only event.”

“I read about it on facebook. It was announced on facebook. How is it invitation only?

“I don’t know, but you need an invitation.”

“I’m with the media.”

“I don’t care. You need an invitation.”

“Okay. Just give me a minute to pack up my stuff.”

“No problem.”

So, as I’m packing up my stuff I keep talking to him. “Look, I drove 35
miles to get here to cover this. Is there someone I can talk to?”

“You can talk to anybody you want…after you leave.”

“How is that going to help me? I just want to talk to someone from the campaign.”

“You can talk to them outside.”

I got all my stuff packed up and picked up my knapsack to leave when
another, even bigger, security guard showed up and blocked my way. He
leaned over and whispered something in the first security guard’s ear.

That’s when the first security guard said to me, “It’s okay. You can stay.”

“I can stay?”

“Yes, you can stay.”

“Without an invite?”

“Without an invite.”

“Can you tell me who threw me out and then who changed their mind and allowed me to stay?”

Driving home alone <sad trombone> I noted that I could have paid $10.50 to zip along
the Express Lanes, However, I was stuck in bumper-to-bumper, stop-and-go traffic. That’s
why it took me more than 2 hours to get home. <sadder trombone> I had all that extra time
to think and I couldn’t help but wonder if this kind of disparity between the haves and
the have nots is something a community activist like Grave Solares might talk about.

He smiled a big shit-eating grin and said, “You know I can’t tell you that.” Then he left me alone.

So . . . I set up my tripod all over again and put the camera back on
it and waited. As I waited I realized that this was going to be,
essentially, a cocktail party and Grace Solares would be moving around
the room, glad-handing her backers. I presumed she’d give some remarks
at the end. So, I settled in for the long, boring wait to hear her

After about 20 minutes another guy came up to
me. He was dressed in a sports jacket and was one of the few people
already there when I arrived, so I suspected he was with the Solares
campaign. He said HELLO and then asked, “Who are you and who are you
with?” There was an edge to his question that rubbed me the wrong way.

Normally “Who are you and who are you with?” is a perfectly legitimate
question under these circumstances. However, what I had just gone
through with the security guard already had me on edge.

So I said, “Who’s wants to know?”

He said, “The guy who’s asking you who you are and who you’re with!”

I stood up and started to take apart my tripod all over again.

“I’m the guy who is leaving right now.”

And, I walked out without meeting the candiate, without hearing her
speech, without learning what makes her qualified for running for
Commissioner in District Two.

Here’s the punchline: As I left
the building the first security guard was outside, checking people as
they came in. A couple arrived and the guard said, “For the
Commissioner?” They said, “Yes” and the guard ushered them right in

So, while I’m telling people I was thrown out of Grace Solares’ campaign event, the gospel truth is I threw myself out.

While on the twin topics of Elections and The Facebookery, have i mentioned I’m running for political office? Join Westerfield/Lengyl 2016 and see what all the bribing is about.

Last facebook plug: Now that I’ve unilaterally declared victory in The Johnny Dollar Wars, I’m pondering a name-change for The Johnny Dollar Depreciation Society. Drop on over and let me know what suggestions you may have. I’ve been pondering variations of frases [see what I did there?] of words that all start with the letter “F” because of the alliteration of the Friday Fox Follies I write every … err … Friday for PoliticusUSA. May as well tie into that. I think they call that synergy these days, or is it vertical integration?

And, that’s how I can start a post and publish it on the very same day. See you next month, kids.

* It was not Brad Knoefler who approached me. I only know him from the pictures people sent to ask, “Whuzzit this guy?” Nor was it any of the other people whose pics were sent to me.