In a world where people get their news via their cell phones, the City of Miami Springs has  barred Wally Clark, the longest serving local photo journalist, from photographing at the annual Daddy / Daughter Dance at the Miami Springs Golf and Country Club.  Here’s what Wally Clark posted on his Facebook Page:

Wally Clark
Wally Clark taking pictures during an event at the Circle nearly 20 years ago.

Denied permission to shoot free photos at the Daddy/Daughter Dance –

I just said this to the Miami Springs Council at open forum this evening. Topics are not allowed to be discussed by either side at open forum.

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(Name and address for the record.)

This is my 60th year as a photographer. I’ve been working and/or living in Miami Springs for about 40 years. I’ve known everyone on the council for decades, except Jaime. He’s the only one who replies to my emails.

I was recently refused permission to go to the Daddy/Daughter Dance to take free pictures to post on my Facebook page, which is an internet publication. Since I wrote about this situation last Friday, I reached more than 6,000 people. Thousands more from other topics. Since Thanksgiving, I’ve reached almost 50,000 people.

City Manager Alonso says I’m a “private citizen,” and a Gazette photographer will take “beautiful pictures” that people like. What a freaking joke. If a dad is a “private citizen” and a photographer, I assume he will be asked to leave.

Alonso said the parks and recreation employees made that decision and he agreed 100-percent. I want their names. Everyone who works for the city knows there’s only one person that makes decisions in the city and it’s Alonso.

I was the unofficial city photographer for almost 30 years. Until I ran for mayor against Zavier Garcia, and filed a complaint against assistant city manager Ron Gorland.

I was never hired again. It wasn’t quality and it certainly wasn’t price, because I was never asked. So, if it wasn’t quality or price, it could only be one thing. And that thing is unethical and illegal.

I also threatened to sue the city because it gave several of my photos to a book publisher. I settled for around $4,000. Seems the city agreed that it made a mistake.

City Manger Alonso is carrying on the tradition set by his friend Gorland. You all know it’s personal. Over the last 10-years I’ve asked council members why I wasn’t hired but not one replied. Council once had a policy to hire local businesses but that fell by the wayside.

The city manager works at the will of the council – he works for you, you can fire him, he can do nothing to you. Therefore, anything he decides is at the will of the council if you know about it and do nothing.

You accept bad portraits because you’re afraid to ask the city manager why he doesn’t hire me, but you know why: it’s personal and you all know it but pretend not to.

I’m asking all council members to call me or send me an email with your opinion on this issue. Even better, stop by my house and tell me to my face why I shouldn’t be allowed to go. It’s a matter of courtesy, respect and ethics.

I will ask for legal opinions on the city’s bias, discrimination, and ethics violations. And I’ll ask that the city attorney recuse himself because we go way back.

Bottom line: I will go to the Daddy/Daughter Dance to photograph the kids and dads and I’ll also have the real unbiased media there. I will refuse to leave if asked, and if police are called, they will follow the law and arrest me.

I’ll deal with it because it will be the will of the council; you all knew about it and did nothing, and I’ll make sure everyone knows.
End

NEWS COVERAGE:

Local journalist, Theo Karantsalis, posted this story in The Herald documenting the issue:  https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/miami-springs/article239741793.html?fbclid=IwAR1wZDNcaMNmvf1rtXACtfBtbZOLJRw-PropnDTJ-i7GS__mxviv0X7HarU

OPINION

This is silly.  Wally is an independent photo journalist who will publish far more pictures from the event than a newspaper will ever do in print.  More fathers and daughters will see their pictures via Wally’s publication via the Internet.  The City needs to get with the times and understand that people have been using the Internet for over 20 years. A publication is no longer defined by printing a newspaper.

If an event is open to the press, then all local press should be allowed to participate including Wally Clark, Theo Karantsalis if he decided to go, and even yours truly if we were to decide to go.  If the event is open to the press, then all the local journalists should be able to participate equally.  All journalists including students from MSSH, digital publications like MiamiSprings.com, and photo journalists like Wally Clark.

It shouldn’t just be the old boys network.

 

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