Booby Tube Trap

Booby Tube Trap
Filed Under: News

Steven McLLain was lugging a discarded Toshiba television across the Venetian Bridge on a breezy evening this past February 12, when Miami City Police NET Cmdr. William Alvarez stopped him. When Alvarez asked McLLain, a lanky 56-year-old homeless man, where he got the boob tube, McLLain replied that he found it in a trash pile in front of a bayfront home at 941 Venetian Dr. The owner of the property, Liselotte Leaton, granted him permission to take the TV, McLLain told Alvarez.

When the cops drove McLLain over to Leaton's residence, she confirmed his account, the elderly homeowner told New Times last week. "He did not steal the television," she affirmed. Nevertheless Alvarez arrested McLLain for loitering and prowling.

On McLLain's arrest affidavit, the commander wrote: "I observed [McLLain] walking west on the Venetian Bridge. He was carrying a black TV. We stopped [McLLain] and he stated öShit, I've been arrested a hundred times.' He placed the TV down. I read Miranda. [McLLain] said he took from a house that was under construction on the island. [McLLain] could not dispel my alarm for the safety of citizens and property in the area."

For the record, Leaton's house is not under construction and Alvarez conveniently left out his conversation with the Venetian Drive resident.

McLLain, who lists the Camillus House downtown homeless shelter as his primary address, could not be located for comment. According to Miami-Dade criminal court records, McLLain has used 44 aliases. The loitering and prowling charge was dropped the day after his arrest.

Alvarez responded through Miami City Police spokesman Det. Delrish Moss, who claims the commander was instituting a crime prevention measure against McLLain. "He is one of the problem children in that area," Moss explained. "He has an extensive criminal record under several aliases for burglary and other things."

In other words, as the Fugees said, "Probable cause got flaws like dirty drawers." — Francisco Alvarado

Make Cover
Filed Under: Flotsam
Last week, City of Miami Mayor Manny Diaz unveiled his Master Tree Plan. After a lengthy ode touting trees' positive impact on property values, air quality, and crime rates, Diaz pledged to increase the county's canopy by 30 percent by 2020.

No tree will go unaccounted for; no back will remain unpatted. More than $600,000 has been set aside to make Miami greener. Each planting will be monitored by satellite and meticulously logged, to include "location, date of the planting, commission district, type of tree planted, age group of volunteers performing work (if applicable), city dollars spent, in-kind dollars (donation), and strategic partners involved (if any)."

The Urban Environment Report, recently released by Earth Day Network, ranks Miami 71st out of 72 major U.S. cities for environmental, health, and quality of life indicators. Only Detroit is deemed worse.

Diaz feels bad, it seems, about what hurricanes and citrus canker have done to the local tree population. But he also cites "urban development" as a major factor in making the city less leafy, which makes Miami's green campaign kinda like Goebbels unveiling a plan to build more synagogues. — Calvin Godfrey

Jesus: 1; Telenovelas: 0
Filed Under: Culture
The FCC imposed its largest ever fine — $24 million — on Univision last week for failing to fulfill its quota of educational programming for children. The complaint originated with the United Church of Christ, which challenged the educational value of the telenovela Complices al rescate ("Friends to the Rescue"), a melodrama about the adventures of 11-year-old identical twin girls who swap identities after discovering they had been separated at birth.

Federal law mandates three hours of educational programming a week, and that it must serve the "intellectual, cognitive, social, and emotional needs" of children under sixteen years old. Here's the network's own plot synopsis of Complices al rescate: "Silvana is an eleven-year-old girl who dreams of becoming a singer. She lives in a luxurious mansion with her father, Rolando, whom she loves greatly, and her mother, Regina, a cold and ambitious woman who does not have time for her. The other important person in her life is Macrina, the loyal nanny who has cared for her all her life."

Rolando dies. Regina is furious to find that he left them bankrupt. Regina and her evil brother Gerardo decide to exploit Silvana's singing talent. When Silvana falls ill, they put her long-lost twin in her stead.

The synopsis continues: "Friends to the Rescue is an emotional story where, between tears and songs, successes and fears, a group of children discovers that happiness does not reside in applause and money, but in sincere friendship, good feelings, and love."

In sum, it's not Sesame Street. The show does, however, prepare the next generation for the unforgiving future of Univision's evening lineup, where the plot outlined above will be repeated countless times, infused with more sex, violence, and plastic surgery.

Do we really want to leave our children unprepared for that? They may know the alphabet, but will they know that any character dressed in black has a nefarious agenda? Or that good things come to poor people who also happen to be blond and beautiful? They can use calculators to do their multiplication tables, but there is no shortcut to television literacy. — Emily Witt

Come Again?
Surrounded by a handful of bodyguards, Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda straightened his tailored beige suit and stepped onto the stage. The crowd at the drab Doral headquarters of his Creciendo en Gracia ("Growing in Grace") ministry this past Wednesday was on its feet, applauding wildly.

"Father, I love you," a woman screamed in Spanish from the rear of the room. She pulled out her checkbook so de Jesus wouldn't "have to sell pastries at the door."

In February 2006 New Times was among the first to publish de Jesus's declaration that he was the second coming of Christ. Since then, the 60-year-old Puerto Rican's religious sect has amassed more than 100,000 members worldwide. In recent weeks he announced himself as the Antichrist, revealed a 666 tattoo on his forearm, and embarked on a campaign to ensure his servants followed his lead.

"Your beloved [de Jesus] is simply saying, öLove me, by putting my mark on yourself,'" Creciendo en Gracia's U.S. bishop Rafael Encarnación told the audience, which had gathered for a service entitled "The Mark of The Beast." "These are Dad's instructions," he said.

Seated a few rows from the front, seventeen-year-old Arianna Ruiz nodded her head robotically in agreement. "In three months I'll be eighteen," she says, beaming, "and then I'm gonna get the tattoo. I believe in him, not just because of what he says, but what he reveals."

Among the revelations that evening: The Bible was not inspired by God; only ignorant people would compare de Jesus to a cult leader; and sowing (donating money) is both a privilege and an order.

For newcomer Liz Hollander the call to arms was alarming.

"I'm trying to find peace and I came because it sounded good," confessed the 45-year-old Coral Gables resident. "But I'm supposed to tattoo myself with the Devil's symbol — and why? I don't think so. Doesn't the Bible warn you about a false God?" — Joanne Green

Alien Speak
State Senator Frederica Wilson has her undies in a bunch over the term "illegal alien," and has sponsored a bill to eliminate the term from state documents. To paraphrase my favorite alien, Yoda: "Mmm, very rude, this term to Frederica is."

Posted by Dan Renzi at Metroblogging Miami (

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Francisco Alvarado was born in Nicaragua and grew up in Miami, giving him unique insight into the Magic City and all its dark corners. An investigative reporter with a knack for uncovering corruption, Alvarado made his bones as a staff writer at Miami New Times and remains in dogged pursuit of the next juicy story.
Calvin Godfrey
Joanne Green
Emily Witt
Contact: Emily Witt