By Jeffrey Bradley
Whiteflies are little winged buggies that cover your plants with a sticky paste and cause yellowing, wilting and death (to the plants, we mean). When they do their most damage, in the crawler stage, they look like plump and pulpy mealybugs. (Vicious little beggars, they feed with “needle-like” mandibles.) Not to be confused with the hateful smaller whitefly causing that massive damage to your ficus-tree hedges, these pests seem to favor pepper trees and the oddly-named gumbo-limbo. But tell that to our potted palm sitting forlornly on the stoop.
Crime Reports, um, are crime reports. And for the first half of this year, those numbers are up. Way up; almost 11 percent. According to The Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Semi-Annual Uniform Crime Report, that is, which elucidates the nearly 5000 reported crimes as the highest January-June ratio since 2004.
Miami Beach Police Chief Carlos Noriega said the first half of the year “was busy”—oddly enough! The report also shows the six recorded homicides as the most in 11 years; that break-ins and burglaries are the highest in six years; that violent crimes are at the highest since 2007; that the 31 rapes are the most since 2006; and that larcenies are at their highest since 2003.
And here’s the kicker. The same report goes on to say that the 4,925 arrests in that six-month stretch are the fewest since 2006. And, tho’ crime has dropped since June, it still remains high, continuing a trend where it’s increased every year in the City since Noriega assumed the department helm in 2007. Not a good thing if you’re a man with political ambitions which, if reports from the 17th Street Irregulars can be trusted (they can), the Chief definitely has.
Chief Noriega bemoaned the fact that larcenies—the department’s “Achilles Heel” he calls ‘em—are up. He considers them a bellwether, of sorts. At a recent Police Citizen’s Relations Committee meeting, he posited that their rising number is more indicative of the bad economy and an undermanned police force. Due to budget constraints he says that it’s harder to police the city with fewer resources. In fact, he has no doubt that more cops would have an impact, but he’s unsure it would be a major impact. The reduction in manpower represents the third consecutive police budget approved by the City that, however more expensive, reduced the total amount of officers. The increased costs are associated with—drumroll, please—pensions and wages(!)… something the Chief readily admits. Looked at another way, of the $80+ million budget, nearly $65+ million went to paying employee costs.
Let’s consult our political crystal ball. So, the Chief’s going in as mayor elected on a wave of union support and then say he’s going to reduce their pensions? Do you see the problem we’re having with this? In our regard, it doesn’t even merit the ‘opposable thumbs’ litmus test. In the event, we hardly think he’ll be able to overthrow the unions given the fact he’s their darling. We can even save the Chief the trouble as we’re happy to shoot down that misguided idea on the spot.
Remember, this is the same department where a $160,000.00 salary is more the norm than the exception. It’s also the go-to place to find answers as to why the costs are going up but the crime isn’t coming down. There’s a growing sense of alarm of things spiraling out of control. One recent case notoriously had the Prime Minister of Belize fleeing his hotel after a drug-crazed murder-spree occurred (guess you can scratch off Belize ever becoming a Sister City); a perception helped not a wit by the bust of a rogue cop who got deeper in hot water with the discovery he kept a marijuana grow-house. His pricey attorney said he needed the dope because killing those civilians made him, you know, “traumatized”. Of course! He’s not responsible; they are. And all of this comes on the taxpayer dime, including the nice “severance” package he walked away with thanks to his union.
Perhaps we shouldn’t, as the Chief urges, take things out of context. Referring to the questionable six-month stats as the result of a “perfect storm”, he reasoned “that’s why those numbers are high”. Which is about as convoluted as Obama asking us to imagine how high unemployment would be without that trillion-dollar stimulus. Excuses, excuses! Any logician will tell you you can’t prove a negative.
Look here. If you want to be the police chief, then you’ve got to cowboy up and take the heat—or credit, if it’s deserved. But if you want to be the mayor, then you’re going to have to do a whole lot better than that. Or maybe we should just consider the advice of the whitefly as it lays in the slime all the time yet complains not: “This is the way things are.” For either one, it’s strictly existential.