305 Photo of the Day: Don't Be a Drag, Just Be a Queen

Today's photo comes from Daveinshaw's Flickr. To see your photo here join our Flickr group.

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Downtown Biscayne to Become Grand Promenade With Fewer Lanes and Less Parking -- Someday

Categories: Road Rage

photo via Gracia Maria Cuzzi's Flickr | MNT Pool
The meat of downtown Miami is separated from the waterfront parks and attractions by an eight-lane highway complete with median surface parking. It works, but it's not exactly the most aesthetically pleasing setup. Well, the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) has finally picked a plan to redevelop a stretch of Biscayne Boulevard into a pretty and pedestrian-friendly "grand promenade."

However, the plan would likely reduce the overall amount of parking and number of traffic lanes.

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Miami Rents Are Wildly Unaffordable for Average Residents

Categories: Unreal Estate

Photo vis ISeeEvryThing's Flickr | MNT Flickr Pool
The old rule of thumb is that you shouldn't pay more than 30 percent of your income on rent and utilities, but in Miami that's becoming a near-impossible guideline to stick to. A new Zillow analysis shows that the median rent (not including utilities) in Miami is equal to about 43 percent of the median income -- an all-time high and one of the highest rates in the nation.

All those fancy, exclusive high-rises that developers keep building aren't helping matters much.

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A Shady Miami A/C Repairman Was Behind Yasiel Puig's Harrowing Escape From Cuba

Categories: Crime, La Habana

photo by Ron Reiring via Wikimedia Commons
Ever since he earned a midsummer promotion to the Dodgers last year, Cuban defector Yasiel Puig has been the most electrifying man in Major League Baseball -- flying heedlessly into walls, smacking absurd home runs, and annoying columnists by showing up late to games and speeding in his sports car.

But in the shadows, Puig has lived a much darker narrative, where a smuggling ring held him captive in Mexico and threatened to kill him with a machete, and where fellow athletes have accused him of working as a snitch for Castro's regime. At the center of it all, according to an astounding feature this week in Los Angeles magazine, is a Miami air-conditioning repairman with a criminal record.

See also: Cuban Baseball Agents: Risks and Lies

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Three Cops Sold Guns All Over South Florida, Sent to Prison (Video)

These two cops are in prison for illegally selling more than 500 guns.
In December, I received an email from a former police officer once featured in Miami New Times for blowing the whistle on dirty cops in the town of Golden Beach. Life had turned upside down for Tammy Valdes and her husband, Rafael, since she won a $233,000 judgment against the town in 2012 for unjustly firing her. The couple was looking at serious hard time following their conviction for tax evasion and for selling more than 500 firearms without a federal license at gun shows in Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, and West Palm Beach.

The feds also convicted Jose Antonio Quintana, an ex-Miami Beach cop who introduced the Valdeses to the gun show game.

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Rickenbacker Marina Says City Is Trying to Force It Out of Virginia Key

Categories: Unreal Estate

iCamPix.net/Flickr CC
For more than two decades on the tip of Virginia Key, Rickenbacker Marina has run its business providing boat storage, a rare longtime Miami operator during a period marked by rapid development and soaring property values. But now the marina is claiming the city is pushing it out to make way for a new lessee -- and using dirty tricks to do so. The marina filed a lawsuit yesterday in Miami-Dade civil court detailing its complaints against the city.

"This is not a case where we didn't pay them," David Haber, an attorney for the marina, tells Riptide. "This is a case where the guy's paying his rent for 30 years and they just don't like him anymore and they want someone else. You can speculate on why."

See also: Key Biscayne Wants to Levy Toll for Bicycles On Rickenbacker

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Miami Company's Venezuelan Security Expert Arrested and Accused of "Terrorist Acts"

Courtesy of Risks Inc.
Chamel Akl was arrested after photographing protests like this one in Caracas.
The police station burned bright as a bonfire. As cars hissed past on the Caracas highway, flames consumed the roadside structure as if it were kindling. Black smoke belched into the night sky. By the time dawn broke over the Venezuelan capital April 1, nothing was left of the building but a charred concrete shell.

The station was still smoking when Chamel Akl drove by hours later. An instructor for a Miami-based security company, Akl was also an open critic of the Chavista government. Two months of violent street protests had scared away most international businessmen -- his usual clients -- so he had taken to tweeting the location of cops and soldiers he spotted around the city.

They were watching him as well, however. And when Chamel pulled up in front of his brother's house after dinner, cops suddenly swarmed his armored SUV. They dragged the brothers out at gunpoint, cinched their hands behind their backs with zip ties, and pushed them into the back of a paddy wagon.

See also: Miami Mercenaries: International Security Business Is Booming in South Florida

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Video: Charlie Crist Interrupts Lt. Gov. Badmouthing Him on Camera

Categories: Politicks

Former governor Charlie Crist addressed the non-partisan Forum Club of the Palm Beaches on his plans to unseat current governor Rick Scott. The Scott campaign responded by sending Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera to give an instant response to the media.

Crist, apparently channeling his inner Frank Underwood, pulled a major power move by interrupting Lopez-Cantera while he was talking to the press, shaking his hand, and then saying, "Give me Scott."

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305 Photo of the Day: Under the Bleachers

Today's photo comes from James Livingston's Flickr. If you'd like to see your photo here join our Flickr group.

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Coast Guard Offloads $110 Million of Seized Cocaine in Miami Beach

Categories: Drugs

Courtesy of USCG
The U.S. Coast Guard unloaded roughly $110 million worth of cocaine in Miami Beach this morning, which actually carried a rough street value of about $330 million. The more than 3,300 kilos of llello were interdicted during two separate incidents as part of the Coast Guard's Operation Martillo, an operation that targets international shipments of cocaine coming into America, usually through Miami.

See also: SOUTHCOM Chief: Latin Leaders Think U.S. Marijuana Legalization Is Hypocritical

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After Hot Start, the Marlins Settle Back Into Sucking

Categories: Sports

The Marlins surprising 5-1 start had us feeling positively optimistic. Maybe this season wouldn't be a slow, painful march to MLB irrelevance. Maybe, just maybe, this would be the first season the team actually lost a playoff series!

Sadly, reality has set back in. The team is in the midst of an eight-game losing streak and has dropped from near the top of the standings back down to the bottom rungs where they're so comfortable.

See also: Wait a Second, Are the Marlins Actually Good This Year?

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U.S. Supreme Court Might Take Up Rick Scott's "Drug Test Everyone" Plan

Categories: Drugs, Politicks

Gov. Rick Scott's plan to randomly drug test every single state employee in Florida -- from department heads to minimum wage DMV janitors -- has already failed the common-sense test and an appeals court ruling. A trial run of the program found that almost no state employees were failing, while an appeals court ruled that the program violated the constitution.

But Scott hasn't given up on the idea yet. The U.S. Supreme Court will likely decide this week whether to take up the latest petition filed by Scott's lawyers.

See also: Rick Scott's State Employee Drug Testing Ruled Unconstitutional

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The 50 Most Followed Miami Twitter Feeds

Categories: Twitter Mafia

Photo via Rosaura Ochoa's Flickr | CC2.0
When we decided to tally up the most popular Twitter users in Miami, we weren't sure what we were going to get. Real fame or local fame doesn't necessarily equate to Twitter fame. After all, Dan Marino barely made the list at 50, and LeBron James came in second.

To compile this list, we used Twitaholic.com data of users with common terms in their location field to denote they're from the Miami area, and supplemented that info with superfamous Miami icons who didn't bother to fill out their location. So this list isn't perfect (and we're open to adding anyone we somehow missed), but it's a pretty interesting snapshot of whose social media game is on point in the 305.

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FBI Snitch Al Sharpton Has Never Helped African-Americans

Categories: Luke's Gospel

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for lukescartoon.JPG
Alex Izaguirre
Uncle Luke, the man whose booty-shaking madness made the U.S. Supreme Court stand up for free speech, gets as nasty as he wants to be for Miami New Times. This week, Luke takes on the FBI's most famous rat.

No one should be surprised that Al Sharpton was a major snitch for the federal government. Last week, the Smoking Gun unearthed damning evidence of the good reverend's onetime role as a mob rat during the '80s. The blockbuster exposé detailed how Sharpton became the FBI's "CI-7," toting around a special briefcase outfitted with a secret recording device that caught several wiseguys from the Genovese crime family on tape multiple times. The Smoking Gun says he flipped when FBI agents showed Sharpton a videotape of him talking about doing a cocaine deal with an undercover agent posing as a South American kingpin.

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Did the Heat Tank Last Night on Purpose to Get the Number Two Seed?

Categories: Sports

We're number two! We're number two! The Miami Heat clinched the second seed in the Eastern Conference with last night's 114-93 loss to the Washington Wizards, a terrific feat for most teams, but not so much a reason to celebrate for your defending back-to-back NBA champions.

If resting LeBron James and Chris Bosh didn't tell you all you needed to know about the Miami Heat's priorities when it comes to seeding versus health, the Milwaukee Bucks-esque tanktastic level of play by their bench in the second-to-last game filled you in on the rest. They don't care about your silly seeding system. The fans might; they don't. They are totally over the foreplay.

See also: The Miami Heat Really Wants Second Place

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SNL Imagines Jeb Bush at Coachella

Categories: Politicks

via Hulu
Pundits, Republican insiders, and pollsters all seem to think former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is planning on making a presidential run in 2016, but you're not a real presidential contender until you're properly parodied on Saturday Night Live. Well, on Saturday the show brought out new cast member Beck Bennett to parody Jeb Bush and his status as the "new face" of the Republican Party.

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Sen. Nelson Says Florida Has Overtaken New York in Population, But That Might Not Be True Yet

Categories: Politicks

via YouTube
According to estimates, Florida is slated to become the third most populated state in the nation sometime in the next few years. Though, one of our senators seems to think it's already happened.

"My state of Florida is now the third-largest state," Sen. Bill Nelson said last week during Senate Armed Services committee hearing about proposed cuts to the National Guard. "We have surpassed New York in population. But New York and Florida also have in common the threat of hurricanes."

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Miami Hurricanes Got Really Excited Over New Uniforms

Categories: Sports

Sometimes after going through a dark, dramatic period, nothing can do wonders like a brand-new wardrobe. Apparently, that was the Miami Hurricanes and Nike's thinking as they unveiled a new set of uniforms this weekend. Similar to other special-edition uniforms the team has worn in recent years, the full set is perhaps one of the biggest changes in the team's history.

If the players' reactions to the unveiling was any indication, they're a big hit.

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Ex-Librarian Blames Miami-Dade Public Library Director for Budget Woes

Photo by C.A.Mendieta / Wikimedia Commons
Like most librarians in Miami-Dade County, Julio Granda Jr. was worried about the financial future of his institution. Under County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, the system had lost $30 million in funding over several years and, in the summer of 2013, was staring down an additional $20 million cut.

But when Granda confronted the man he held partly responsible for the library's woes -- longtime library director Raymond Santiago -- at a meeting, Granda says the director "went into a tirade" and remarked, as part of a heated monologue, that if he left "this organization is fucked."

See also: Why Libraries in Miami Are More Important Than Ever

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City of Miami To Spend Thousands Upgrading Trolleys That Don't Serve the Visually Impaired

Categories: News

City of Miami trolley
via miamigov.com
When the City of Miami unveiled its highly anticipated trolley system two years ago this month, city officials were clearly satisfied with themselves. Mayor Tomás Regalado -- who had championed the idea for years -- grinned as he snipped the ribbon from the sleek orange-and-green machines in Mary Brickell Village. The rubber-tired trolleys were supposed to be a sign that Miami had traded smog and sprawl for smart urban planning. The Huffington Post gushed that Miami was the next San Francisco. The trolley system's motto: "Ditch the car and hitch a ride."

For many visually impaired Miamians, however, the new trolleys turned out to be a harrowing ride to the wrong part of town.

This week, city commissioners are expected to finally order upgrades to the trolleys 24 months after their much-publicized debut. The fixes are part of a legal agreement with Andres Gomez, a 26-year-old who claimed the trolleys violated the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).

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