By Terrence McCoy
By Allie Conti
By Chuck Strouse
By Scott Fishman
By Terrence McCoy
By Ryan Yousefi
By Ciara LaVelle, Kat Bein, Carolina Del Busto, and Liz Tracy
By Pepe Billete
Filed under: Culture
Despite reaching number one and generating the greatest one-week digital sales in Billboard history with his hit "Low," Carol City native Flo Rida gave a recent free appearance at South Miami's AMC Theatres Sunset Place that was a bit of a bust. The movie theater was practically empty.
WTF? Maybe it was the promotion — or lack thereof. The only advance notice of the show, in which Rida (born Tramar Billard) shared the bill with Missy Elliott, came in a MySpace bulletin. "See [the film] Step Up 2 before any of your friends, and catch a live performance by Flo Rida," it read. "Also, see Missy Elliott's new 3-D video, Ching-A-Ling."
Near the escalator, a few pubescent boys frantically attempted to distribute MySpace wristbands to passersby. "Free movie, meet Missy Elliott ... free!" A group of teenage girls stopped; one of them said, "I don't care about the movie; I want to see Flo Rida." Taking a cue from Rida's hit song, she was wearing Apple Bottoms jeans and green Reeboks with straps. "It's a total coincidence that I'm wearing these," she added.
A long-haired young man next to her pointed out, "We're not hipsters — they suck. We're MySpacers." OMG.
"I find MySpace creepy," said 20-year-old University of Miami student Casey Goodman. "I had like 300 friends, but these middle-age men from Canada were proposing to me online, so I deleted my page." LOL.
Inside the sticky-floored theater, amid the popcorn and Twizzlers, Elliott introduced her video. The audience put on 3-D glasses. Smiling mothers and their daughters — several of whom wore Hannah Montana hats — cheered.
After the video, Elliott stood and announced she was going to play it again. "Um ... overkill," someone said. Then Flo Rida performed his hit, and the sparse crowd went crazy. As the lights went down and Step Up 2 began, people headed for the exits. LMAO. — Jason Handelsman
John Timoney, Defender of Free Speech
Filed under: News
The protesters are there every weekday morning, a few dozen of them, creating a corridor of cacophony along Biscayne Boulevard between the Wachovia Financial Center and the Citibank building downtown.
They shake empty water bottles filled with pennies; chant, "Dirty rat gotta go!"; and encourage drivers to honk, all in the name of fair wages for carpenters. The noise is driving some tenants crazy.
"It's an incredible racket, and it's very disruptive," says Doron Weiss, a commercial litigator with the Barthet Firm whose 18th-floor office overlooks the protests, which are staged by the Florida Carpenters Regional Council. "It's like a canyon effect," he says of the amplified clamor, which also includes drumming and whistling.
But the laborers have gained an unexpected champion: Miami Police Chief John Timoney.
In an e-mail exchange obtained by Riptide, Timothy P. Keable, the Wachovia building's general manager, complains to Timoney about the clatter: "All we have ever asked is that they conduct their protests quietly. Screaming, chanting, banging, blowing whistles & singing Do-Wa-Diddi on our sidewalk is not protected 'speech,'" Keable writes. "I respectfully request your assistance in asking your officers to do their job — not the union's bidding." (Keable did not respond to a voicemail seeking comment for this story.)
In his response, Timoney writes, "I come from NYC and Philadelphia, where protests such as these and worse are conducted on a daily basis. The fact of the matter is this is 'protected free speech.'"
Terry Darling, the union's director of special projects, says carpenters in both buildings are earning between $10 and $18 an hour, far below the $27 hourly standard. "We're running out of places for the people who build these places to live comfortably," he says.
As for the commotion, Darling claims he's been inside the buildings and couldn't hear it, even from the lobby. "Unfortunately," he says, "if we put Hooters girls out there, no one would want us to leave." — Frank Houston
Rolle's Gotta Roll
Filed under: News
It's not yet official, but the Ghetto Governor is stepping down.
Miami-Dade County Commissioner Dorrin Rolle has resigned from his job as president and chief executive of the James E. Scott Community Association, according to two sources who asked to remain anoymous because the nonprofit has not announced its search for a replacement.
Rolle's departure would mark a significant turning point for the organization he's served since 1972, when he was hired as a social worker. He rose through the ranks, assuming JESCA's top post in 1992 following a scandal that saw former chief Archie Hardwick convicted of grand theft. Four years later, Gov. Lawton Chiles appointed Rolle to replace county Commissioner James Burke, who had been indicted on public corruption charges.
Rolle did not return phone calls seeking comment for this story. Neither did JESCA's board chairman, school board member Wilbert "Tee" Holloway.
Under Rolle's leadership, JESCA has faced its share of problems. In 2002, he pleaded no contest and paid a $750 fine imposed by the Miami-Dade County Commission on Ethics, which charged him with improperly lobbying county officials on behalf of JESCA and using his influence to have county police provide security at a festival benefiting the agency.
In 2006, school board auditors discovered JESCA had accrued more than $145,000 in bounced-check fees and that the school district in two years had overpaid the agency by $114,000. One year later, the board severed its ties with JESCA after finding the agency owed nearly $300,000 in overdue bills.
It didn't help when the Miami Herald reported this past September that Rolle accepted campaign contributions and at least $10,000 in private donations to JESCA from developer Dennis Stackhouse, who received county funds for a project in Liberty City that was never built. Stackhouse has since been charged with reimbursing employees who contributed to Rolle's 2006 re-election campaign.
JESCA pays Rolle $179,253 and provides him with a V12 600 series Mercedes-Benz. "He got tired of being blamed for all of JESCA's problems," says a friend of Rolle's who does not want to be named. "And several government agencies had expressed an unwillingness to continue working with him." — Francisco Alvarado