Furious George

George Alexander is waging war on Coral Gables City Hall. He calls the mayor a fink and his neighbors all wet.

The mayor finds the spectacle slightly amusing; he even has a big blowup of one of Alexander's broadsides hanging in his office. "Even if this were something I could change," Valdes-Fauli says, "my position is that it's like a neighbor claiming a branch is coming over into his property or a dog is barking next door. What am I going to do about it?"

Today it's hard to see through the front windows of Alexander's locked studio, which is papered with 24 citations and three notices of "intent to lien." The only occupants of the lobby are a nice terra cotta-color leather sofa and a few large red, white, and blue signs leaning against the walls. Next door, at 220 Alhambra, men are still at work on the interior of the parking garage.

Since the walls of the garage and Alexander's studio are only four inches apart, it's hard to see the water damage that has incensed Alexander. Manuel Lopez, director of the Gables building department, says he has seen water damage to Alexander's building but couldn't find the source. Lopez adds that the 220 Alhambra building has a proper drainage system, which consists of a two-inch gutter. Retorts Mesa: It's not working.

The owners say they'd like to help, but they complain that Alexander refuses to describe the harm he's suffered. "We said any damages we may have caused to the building because of construction we'd be happy to repair," says Steven Siegfried, the owners' attorney. "But he won't let us into the building to do repairs." Mesa says that's because the water damage is ongoing and can't be quantified until it stops. "There is the concern with time the building will crack and be permanently unstable," he adds.

In time Alexander will return from his trip to find a few more citations on his front door. His lawsuit will wend its way through civil court. And the completed 220 Alhambra building will stand among the other new and elegant high-rises. And until someone removes Alexander's sign, its red letters will continue their incongruous rant.

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