In Carlos, We Trust
The boss pays you. time to pay him back.
Mayor Carlos Alvarez
By Francisco Alvarado
A couple dozen high-level, well-paid Miami-Dade County executives are investing in a little job security.
Just more than $5,000 of the $719,860 contributed to Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez's re-election campaign in the first quarter of 2008 came from department directors, assistant managers, and executive assistants who work for the county. Even the folks who handle the mayor's image and field calls from the press gave cash to the boss's campaign.
Considering that last year voters granted Alvarez the authority to hire and fire any county employee, you might expect the mayor to think twice before seeking contributions from staffers who report directly to him or County Manager George Burgess.
Apparently it's worth the effort, even though county employee donations to Alvarez added up to barely more than half of one percent of the overall haul between January 1 and March 31.
Alvarez campaign chairman and spokesman José "Pepe" Riesco did not return a voicemail seeking comment.
Riptide attempted to contact 12 of the 24 individuals at county hall who gave to Alvarez. Only one responded: Emergency Management and Homeland Security Director Charles Douglas Bass, who gave Alvarez $250 this past March 18, says he received a letter from the mayor's campaign at his home address asking him to attend a fundraiser. Bass says he didn't go but that he sent a check.
"No one asked me to or coerced me to do it," he says. "[Alvarez] has been a great supporter of my programs and a great boss. I'd like to see him re-elected."
Tips for Tits
Flat-chested women are fundraising's new frontier.
By Natalie O'Neill
Sure, homelessness is a good charitable cause. So is domestic violence. But in a city where oiled-up bikini bods line the beaches, hearts go out to another group of have-nots: flat-chested ladies.
No joke. The Miami-based Getboobed.com recently launched its bright pink website on the concept. It works like this: Women post images of their small natural breasts and distribute the link to "fundraise" for a set of perky new ones. Benefactors — mostly men, we're assuming — donate online, via PayPal, to help the unfortunate souls reach their $5,000 dream.
Oh, the philanthropy.
For inspiration, the site welcomes visitors with before and after tit shots. A pair of pale 34As (we'll guess) is transformed into a tanned, shapely set of Cs. "Change these ... into these," the site encourages. You, too, can help. Adopt a boob today.
Says Ginnette Gonzalez of Miami: "Truth be told, boobs nowadays are just the number one selling accessory for women." Another fan of the site writes, "Man i wish i had this b4 i got mine. lol!!"
In the interest of trashy journalism and our own curiosity, Riptide shed a shirt and joined the party — to see if we could finagle our own donations for implants. Early last week, we posted a bathing suit photo and sent the link to our dearest friends. Then we sat back to watch the cash flow in.
By the end of the week, we received more snarky comments than contributions. (Very funny, guys. And no, that wasn't child porn.) To date, we have raised exactly zero dollars and zero cents.
But we'll take that as a compliment, thank you very much, and leave the funds for the truly needy. We've heard there are starving nipples in China. Or was it Africa? Whatever. We're sure they deserve it more than we do.
Guantánamo Bay and democracy on display.
By Janine Zeitlin
On one side of Bayfront Park last Thursday, activists declared "there has never been a greater threat to the rule of law" than the U.S. prison in Guantánamo Bay, "an ugly blot" on American history. On the other side of the waterfront park, a short walk away, people mixed cocktails, strolled, and shopped.
Amnesty International brought its life-size replica of a roughly 6.5-by-8-foot Gitmo jail cell to downtown to kick off its campaign to shutter the notoriously human rights-light hovel, where several hundred "enemy combatants" are detained.
Fishy breezes mixed with the scent of all things fried at the strip of restaurants and bars, which felt awfully far from Guantánamo even though it's just 400 miles across the water in a U.S.-controlled slice of Cuba.
"[The prisoners at Guantánamo Bay] have got a nice piece of property," chortled Seth Lappin, a golden-haired 27-year-old bartender at Let's Make a Daiquiri. "But I'm sure they're not treated very well."
His 29-year-old co-worker Miguel Gonzalez was eating pizza at the bar. "How long has it been, bro?" he piped in. "Since 9/11?"
Just about. The longest-held detainees have been there 2,285 days without charges or trial, Amnesty International says. That's a little more than six years.
"It's better than the desert," Seth asserted.
"Those people are from here, though. How do you like it, dog? You're just some Iraqi that gets picked up in Miami. It is really f-ed up about Gitmo. Gitmo, bro." Then, distracted, Miguel pointed to the front of the bar. "Bro, the dolphin sign is off."
While the bros turned to the bar, two women from Memphis snapped photos near the Bayfront stage to remember their trip to Florida. One of them suspected Guantánamo Bay was located somewhere in the Sunshine State.
"It's here in Florida, right? I don't know; I should Google it," said Shakira "Koko" Cook, a 25-year-old whose eyes were veiled behind vast Fendi sunglasses. "Is somebody famous there?"
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Not really. Only eight percent of prisoners have actually been tagged as Al-Qaeda fighters, one study says, which is probably about as famous as terrorists get.
The other woman, a rapper named Gangsta Boo, didn't venture to guess at any details about Gitmo. She slipped away to order a $10 Miami Vice — half strawberry daiquiri, half piña colada.
Riptide told Koko about the mock cell across the park, relaying an activist's claim that one detainee was being imprisoned for having a Timex watch, because government officials believed Al-Qaeda used them to make bombs. The message was not lost on Koko.
"He shouldn't be held based just on his accessories," she said.