SOUTH BEACH LUMPEN PROLETARIAT
The 633 Meridian Avenue Alley Club
27 October 2015
By David Arthur Walters SOUTH BEACH HERALD
The City of Miami Beach Police Department has recently responded almost every night to complaints about the loud music, shouting, and fighting behind 633 Meridian Avenue, a building located in the old crackhood known as Seventh Heaven below 7th Street, the butt end of the Flamingo Park Neighborhood and only three blocks off South Beach’s famed Ocean Drive.
The apartment building and 7,000 sq. ft. lot on which it sets, appraised together at $1,225,000 by the county assessor, was purchased in 1998 by Candace Partnership LLC, a front for prominent Miami Beach slumlord David Muhlrad and his wife Candace. Mr. Muhlrad, who happens to have been the city’s first code compliance chief, owns numerous white with red-trim apartment buildings on South Beach that house the tourist resort’s Hispanic proletariat, on the fringes of which are the Lumpen Proletariat, living sometimes within the structures and sometimes without.
The police department, especially the gang suppression unit and narcotics unit, together with the economic downturn dubbed the Great Recession, rid the neighborhood of most of the issues aka problems in the crime-ridden neighborhood, including the noisy all night drinking parties mistakenly associated with ethnicity instead of vulgarity.
The hardened vestiges of those hellish nights along with new arrivals from Central American countries with high crime rates squat in one place or another and roam the alleys on foot and on bicycles probably stolen. Living on the margin, they survive by means of odd jobs and misdemeanors, and numerous pints of Old Milwaukee and Busch beer.
Now they have found a hospitable place to carouse to their hearts content just outside the alley apartment of 633 Meridian Avenue, a building long associated by the city’s code enforcement department with noise, over-flowing garbage bins, cockroaches, vermin and bedbugs.
Mind you that the majority of the residents are decent, law-abiding, mostly undocumented immigrants who do not have the means or the credentials to live in a better place, people highly unlikely to complain to the authorities and risk being deported despite President Obama’s facially lenient immigration policy.
As residents know all too well, one tenant can create hell for everyone in and around a building. The tenant in this case is not a bad guy at all. Indeed, he is well known as a nice guy, a fellow with a job, a wife, and a child. He excels in hospitality, wherefore the virtual nightclub near his back door, in the common area where women wash their clothes.
Now they dare not wash in the evenings. Indeed, most of the women and many of the men who live on the block take care not enter the alley. Lingerers even as late as 8:30 A.M. were seen last week on a big couch intended as rubbish; three men were “entertaining” a woman on the couch in broad daylight. Others may from time to time be seen sleeping, drinking, and urinating under their host’s window even later in the mornings.
Major Mark Causey deployed a special squad last week to roust the revelers when the party got going at 6 PM, but they were back in full force that evening. La misma mierda each night thereafter. Police came and went each night. Rumor has it that some partiers were taken to the airport on occasion. It is difficult obtain reliable information from the illegals because they are afraid of hence extremely hostile towards (expletive deleted) Americanos who do not speak their language.
People in the neighborhood go to work tired and irritable from being awakened by the public nuisance. Some wish that the cops were not so nice, that they were as mean as the ones the Hondurans and Guatemalans are running away from for good reason. One fellow wanted by the police back home actually stabbed his wife several time a couple of years ago as his friend looked on. She survived.
Those days were really bad. People today pray to Our Lady of Guadalupe that the rapes, thefts, robberies, and murders not return along with the noise. Wherever noise and other quality of life offenses are tolerated, serious crimes are encouraged. You see, it is a matter of respect.
Absent a police state, it is a landlord’s business to keep the peace on his property with the help of the police if necessary. Neither David Muhlrad nor his son Mark Muhlrad have returned calls made and messages left at their headquarters, the Starlight Hotel on Ocean Drive. Whether the police department has had a word with them is unknown at this time.
The city’s code compliance department is responsible for responding to noise complaints during its working hours. Those complaints are handled by police officers after hours. It has been the custom for all complaints to be recorded for public view on the city’s web site.
Only six noise complaints currently appear on the city’s site, beginning March 2003 and ending November 2012. That figure is absurd considering the number of complaints made to code compliance and the police department during that period, not to mention the nearly night calls recently made. A formerly problematic property across the alley, owned by the father of a county attorney, used to generate numerous calls to the 911 operator, yet the police department neighborhood coordinator said only two calls were made.
The code compliance department has not responded by press time to an inquiry asking whether many complaints may have been unrecorded, or tampered with, or perhaps inadvertently dumped. The city recently alleged that it had created a system whereby only supervisors could make changes to the records, and that those changes were tracked. A previous request, however, for a tracking record, and an inquiry as to whether such a system really existed, was not answered.
The traditional absence of accountability and transparency has led to suspicions of corruption including favoritism. It just so happens in this instance that Mr. Muhlrad is a close relative and business associate of Russell Galbut, one of the most influential real estate developers in the city. They are indeed so-called Old Cronies of Miami Beach, as is the new reform city manager, Jimmy Morales, who answers to Mayor Philip Levine, a de facto strong mayor because he controls a commission majority.
The mayor’s right-hand commissioner, Michael Grieco, has said that the commission almost always takes the city manager’s recommendations for granted. Many of the city’s activists, tired of corruption, desired to have a city manager from out of town instead of an Old Crony, but Mr. Morales was shooed in despite the formal recommendations made by a profession recruiting firm.
Daniel Oates, a chief from out of state, was chosen for the police department to replace Chief Raymond Martinez, who had resolved many issues resulting from a clamor over the latest wave of F.B.I. busts of code enforcement officers.
There have been complaints about the new chief’s apparent leniency towards the Lumpen Proletariat except for the beating of a model and a man who came to her defense. Otherwise the police department appears to be up to snuff. Its response to calls is efficient and effective although a more right-wing approach would be appreciated by some stake holders.
A suggested resolution to the disturbances created by alley life has been floated. Mayor Levine plans on converting a huge parking lot behind the convention center into a park. That would be an ideal sanctuary for the city’s destitute; the ragamuffins; unemployed or underemployed aliens; vagrants; homeless; or anyone else, for that matter, who cannot afford to drink in the clubs and needs a community center to socialize. The self-policed park could be named Lumpen Proletariat Sanctuary.
Now it is said that every story needs some balance. Not everyone minds the noisome alleys of South Beach. An elegantly dressed lady at the senior center had this to say:
“Isn’t it wonderful at night to hear the young people celebrating their lives in the alleys?”
“You mean the sound of music, shouting, breaking bottles, that kind of thing?”
“Yes, I love it. It reminds me of my youth.”