Ex-Sweetwater Police Commander Says He Was Fired for Investigating Mayor

Categories: News

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Mayor Jose Diaz
The small municipality of Sweetwater has been no stranger to big controversy. Its last mayor was whacked by the FBI for taking a $40,000 bribe, and rumors soon swirled afterward that the feds were stacking up cases against other city departments for crooked behavior.

Now one ex-police commander is taking aim at the town's current mayor, Jose Diaz. The former officer has filed a civil lawsuit claiming he was fired for looking into code violations at Diaz's house.

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Preservationists Push To Save Historic Mosaic Threatened By Mid-Beach Faena Project

Categories: News

courtesy Mitch Novick
Growing up in Miami in the 1960s, Mitch Novick remembers cruising along Collins Avenue and gaping at a gold-and-blue tinted mosaic. "It really is a spectacular mosaic," says Novick.

So when Novick heard that the building housing the artwork had been approved for demolition to make way for the massive mid-Beach Faena project, he jumped to publicize the mosaic's plight. "It's an extremely unique piece for the Beach," says Novick, who is now the chairman of the Miami-Dade Historic Preservation Board.

See also: Listed for $50 Million, Faena House Penthouse Could Become Miami's Most Expensive Condo

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Miami Beach Let Vagrants, Segways and Taggers Ruin Sculpture, Famed Artist Says

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courtesy Brian Tolle
Segways routinely rammed a Collins Park sculpture, the artist claims
When Miami Beach installed Tempest in Collins Park in 2010, the city's website gushed that Brian Tolle's giant sculpture was "a shimmering blue-green expanse which appears to have been carved from the sea, frozen in space and time, in the form of a swirling celestial maze." The website even encouraged people to interact with the sculpture: "Visitors are free to wander through the waves, looking as though they are bobbing in the surf or frolicking in a pool."

Perhaps "frolicking" was a poor choice of words.

According to Tolle, the city proceeded to let bums, punks, and -- worst of all -- Segway-riding tourists ruin his $400,000 sculpture. And when he complained, the city secretly dismantled his creation.

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SkyRise Miami Approved, Developer Promises "It's Better Looking Than the Eiffel Tower"

Categories: News

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SkyRise Miami is happening, and its developer isn't shy about it.

The 1,000-foot entertainment tower on Biscayne Bay has been billed as the "Eiffel Tower of Miami." After county commissioners approved the project yesterday, however, developer Jeff Berkowitz said SkyRise will surpass its Parisian competitor.

"I think it's better looking than the Eiffel Tower," he told reporters.

See also: Skyrise Returns to Commission Today For Vote On $9 Million In Taxpayer Support


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Skyrise Returns to Commission Today For Vote On $9 Million In Taxpayer Support

Categories: News

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Up until October, developer Jeff Berkowitz's audacious plan for a 1,000-foot tall tower on the bay front had sailed through with scant opposition from politicians or residents. The city commission quickly signed off on the Skyrise plan, and voters gave it a green light in August. But then came news that contrary to Mayor Tomas Regalado's very public promises, Skyrise would be asking for millions in taxpayer support.

That revelation has lead to huge headaches for County Mayor Carlos Gimenez and a big speedbump for Skyrise when the county commission stalled out on a vote last month on $9 million in funding.

Today, Skyrise is back in County Hall, and it's anyone's guess if it will garner enough votes to stay alive.

Update: The County Commission has passed the $9 million in funding.

See also: Miami Taxpayers Could Pay Millions for SkyRise Tower After All

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Miami-Based Muslim Pilot Says Spirit Airlines Fired Him Over His Religion

Categories: News

photo by Andre Du-pont via Wikimedia Commons
Spirit Airlines is no stranger to complaints. From its tiny seats and crippling pilot strike to advertising campaigns that have used devastating oil spills, MILFs, and prostitution scandals to hawk tickets, no airline draws groans from consumers quite so regularly than the South Florida-based budget carrier.

But even for Spirit, Ilyes Yakoub's beef is an eye-opening allegation. The Miami-based pilot says he was run out of the company and even subjected to FBI interrogation for his religious beliefs.

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Hialeah Cop Pulls Over Harvard Grad For Playing N.W.A. Song "F*ck Tha Police"

Categories: News

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Illustration by Kevin Cannon
Thanksgiving morning began sweetly for Cesar Baldelomar. No work. Beautiful weather. And good tunes thumping from his car stereo. As the 26-year-old cruised through Hialeah toward his parents' house, he could practically smell his mother's cooking wafting down 24th Avenue.

But when Baldelomar pulled up to the stoplight at West 60th Street, Hialeah Police Officer Harold Garzon was standing nearby, filling out some paperwork from a traffic accident. At that moment, another song came on Baldelomar's stereo. "Fuck tha police/Comin' straight from the underground," N.W.A. rapped. "A young n**** got it bad cause I'm brown / And not the other color so police think / they have the authority to kill a minority."

Then came the song's eponymous refrain -- "Fuck tha police!" -- four times in a row.

"Really?" Garzon said to Baldelomar through his open car window. "You're really playing that song? Pull over."

See also: Graffiti Artist Demz Dies From Injuries After Police Car Hit Him in Wynwood

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Anonymous Street Crew Launches "Operation Demz Revenge" Calling for Graffiti and Protests

Categories: News

Photo via baneripdemz's Instagram
Demz in front of his tag.
On Tuesday night, 21-year-old street artist Delbert "Demz" Rodriguez died from a brain injury caused by a collision with a Miami cop car. Demz had been tagging a wall in Wynwood during Art Basel when an undercover detective chased him down.

Hours after Demz's death, a strange video was uploaded to YouTube. In it, a group calling itself the Anonymous Street Crew tries to link Demz's death to other instances of police brutality and calls for murals and protests in honor of the slain artist.

"Miami Police, you have caught our attention," says a computerized voice. "Art is not a crime, and we will not tolerate fellow artists being in danger for expressing their first amendment rights by the same people who swore an oath to uphold and protect that very right."

See also: Demz's Death: Witness, Cop's Record Raise Questions About Graffiti Artist's Killing

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Floridians Bought an Amazing Number of Guns on Black Friday

Categories: News

photo by Glasgows via Wikimedia Commons
For shoppers in most of the country, Black Friday is a chance to dive-bomb the mall to load up on price-slashed Christmas gifts, clothes for the new year or that laptop that's been too expensive to until now.

Floridians, though, apparently thought the day after Thanksgiving was the perfect time to re-up their home arsenal. New statistics from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement show Black Friday 2014 was the third busiest day ever for gun sales in Florida. Yes, Ferguson may have played a role.


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Graffiti Artist Demz Dies From Injuries After Police Car Hit Him in Wynwood

Categories: News

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via Delbert Rodriguez's Facebook
Delbert "Demz" Rodriguez
Update: A witness reached by New Times disputes the police version of events. Danny Garcia, a friend who was with Demz that night, says there's no way he had time to disappear down a side street before police hit him. New Times also reviewed the officers' IA record, which shows numerous complaints for aggressive behavior. Read the full story here

This past Friday night, thousands of protesters marched through Wynwood and blocked traffic on I-195 to protest police brutality, including the killing by Miami Beach Police officers last year of a young graffiti artist named Israel "Reefa" Hernandez.

Unbeknownst to most protestors, just a few hours earlier and a few blocks away, local cops had chased another young tagger -- 21-year-old Delbert "Demz" Rodriguez -- and hit him with an unmarked cruiser, leaving him with grievous head wounds.

Late last night, Demz died from those injuries.

See also: Graffiti Artist in Critical Condition After Cop Car Hit Him in Wynwood

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