If You Indict, They Will Come

What is Miami's greatest natural resource? Corruption, of course! So let's get out there and sell it!

After the January indictment of Dade County Commissioner James Burke, Miami's civic-hype artists could be heard gnashing their teeth and noisily decrying the latest "black eye" to our image, an especially touchy subject after months of unrelenting allegations of massive voter fraud, a scandal-plagued seaport, corrupt county bureaucrats, and the fact that roughly half of Miami's city government was being tossed into prison.

When an appeals court on March 11 dramatically booted Xavier "The Midnight Rambler" Suarez and installed Crazy Joe Carollo as Miami mayor, the worrywarts started yowling again. National headlines. Late-night talk show jokes. Miami vacation plans canceled by the billions.

Then a mere five days later County Commissioner Bruce Kaplan, following a lengthy criminal investigation, pleaded guilty to lying on his financial disclosure forms and agreed to resign from office. The handwringers, needless to say, were apoplectic.

Even Robert Steinback, an earnest Miami Herald columnist not normally associated with those nervous Nellies over at the convention and visitors bureau, seemed to lose his cool. "Miami's scandals damage our quality of life by imperiling the forces of growth and prosperity," he wrote in a column that practically quaked in fear right there on the page. "The negative national image generated by political corruption is a drag on our region's progress."

This from a man who was recently seen at a Miami karaoke bar, microphone in hand, warbling his way through the entire Hootie and the Blowfish catalogue. Trust us: Steinback's rendition of "Only Want to Be with You" was more crippling to the city's image than a cellblock full of Miami public officials. Besides, even if we do have a "negative national image," he's just plain wrong about the consequences.

Tourist visits to South Florida reached an all-time high this past season. Violent crime is down, especially crime against visitors. Brickell Avenue and downtown Miami are poised for a building boom. Miami Beach is in the middle of one right now. Foreigners are dropping major coin on new luxury condos all over Dade.

Sometimes it is difficult to acknowledge the truth -- at least publicly. But just pull aside these moralistic magpies for a little off-the-record strategizing and prioritizing, and they're quick to admit the truth: Sin is sexy. Scandal sells. When Humberto Hernandez goes down, our numbers go up.

So why not exploit the hell out of this subtropical cesspool of sleazy corruption? It's clear that people the world over love it. Wallow in it. Pay darn good money to get near it.

Why fight it?
As a public service at this crucial juncture, New Times is stepping forward to help point the way to a new golden age in Miami's history. And what we offer here is only a beginning, a mere hint of the limitless possibilities that lie ahead.

With this series, we're solidifying Miami's corruption image while at the same time precluding possible copycat campaigns by competitors. Everyone knows government is corrupt in Chicago and Washington. This says Miami is more corrupt. Playing on the television program adds a hook and serves as the overall theme.

Television stills of a commercial starring Don Johnson:
1. South Beach shoreline scene
2. Alex Daoud at courthouse
3. Nightclub scene
4. Cesar Odio at courthouse
5. Downtown Miami skyline
6. Don Johnson

"Miami. Vice." :30
(Open on low-altitude helo aerial of crowded South Beach shoreline)
Don Johnson (VO): The place is hot. Really hot.
(Dissolves to Alex Daoud at courthouse)
D.J. (VO): You know what happens. Sometimes yer gonna get burned.
(Dissolves to nightclub scene. Dancers.)
D.J. (VO): And sometimes ya just gotta take a break.
(Dissolves to Cesar Odio at courthouse)
D.J. (VO): Nah. I said take a break, not take a cut.
(Dissolves to helo aerial of downtown Miami skyline)
D.J. (VO): It's a crazy damn place. But ya gotta love it. I sure did.
(Dissolves to Don Johnson)
D.J.: Guess I shoulda never left. I miss it. But don't you.
Super: Miami. Vice.

A no-brainer. The guy is still in worldwide syndication. Beware: He absolutely refuses to utter Philip Michael Thomas's name, much less have him involved in any way.

Paris billboard featuring photo of Xavier Suarez.
"Miami est merveilleux et fou. J'en sais longtemp."
-- Xavier Suarez

Miami. Vice.

Video cassette: "Miami: Too Hot for TV"
Prospective tourists who contact the convention and visitors bureau will be offered -- free of charge -- a sizzling twenty-minute video cassette mailed to their homes, here or abroad. Glamour footage, tourist attractions, glitzy restaurants, plus excerpts from the 60 Minutes segment, bloopers from Miami City Commission meetings, and outtakes from the James Burke surveillance tapes and the FBI's Humberto Hernandez perp walk. Possible bonus special: archival tape featuring Joe Gersten, Raul Martinez, Silvio Cardoso, Sebastian Dorrego, Andres Mejides, Alberto San Pedro, Roy Gelber, Harvey Shenberg, David Goodhart, David Kennedy, and others.

A Guide Down the Crooked Path
Heavily distributed at the airport and area hotels, these babies are guaranteed to be a hit (in English, Spanish, French, and German). Clearly marked routes direct visitors to some of Miami's most famous sites: the pauper's grave of still-active voter Manuel Yip; the Little Havana home of Edna Benson, who drew her .38 revolver when Xavier Suarez paid a late-night visit; the Miami Outboard Club, where surveillance tapes caught Dade Mayor Steve Clark discussing "spooks" with an FBI informant; various streets named after felons; and much much more.

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