By Terrence McCoy
By Allie Conti
By Chuck Strouse
By Scott Fishman
By Terrence McCoy
By Ryan Yousefi
By Ciara LaVelle, Kat Bein, Carolina Del Busto, and Liz Tracy
By Pepe Billete
When Cunningham happened to speak to him in November, she says Featherstone did talk about his new business. "I said, `John, don't do it.' I felt he would eventually get into trouble for it. He said he was just thinking about it."
Ron Bell acknowledges that Featherstone asked him what the county would require of someone who wanted to give nature walks, but he says the park aide always implied it was his friend Lawrence Forti who wanted to provide the tours, not Featherstone. "It was never that John wanted the paperwork," says Bell, adding that he tried to discourage the private walks because the county was planning to hire a new manager who would reinstate the paid tours. A hiring freeze had delayed the replacement of Patricia Cunningham, Bell explains, which also meant Featherstone and Wes Wilson worked at the park for nearly ten months without an on-site supervisor.
Featherstone says that regardless of the outcome of his trial, he's not finished with the Arch Creek Trust or his ex-employer, Dade County. He vows to oppose the organization's land-acquisition endeavors through allies such as Mary Ward, and says he has an attorney, whom he refuses to name, who will file a lawsuit against the county. Featherstone won't discuss the litigation in any detail, but he does say the county harmed him by saying he was a poor employee when prospective employers called for a reference. Some of those queries went to John Aligood, chief of human resources for Dade County Parks, who says he informed callers that Featherstone had abandoned his post and that the county would not rehire him. That information is part of the former park aide's personnel file, which is open to the public.
As for his experiences with the park and its overseers, and the impression he may have made on his former colleagues in the trust, Featherstone refuses to apologize for his stubborn nature. "I'm very comfortable with myself, so I don't care if I fit in or not with the Arch Creek Trust or with anything," he says. I'm convinced that when we die, we watch our lives like a movie and we judge ourselves. There are movies you see that you wish you didn't see - it was a waste of time. There are movies that are tear-jerkers. Mine probably will be a strange combination of a comedy with a few tear-jerking moments in there, and question marks.