Riptide

If you missed the picture on page 12a of the February 9 edition of El Nuevo Herald, look again.

A bearded fellow sits beside a splintered building. The caption: "A man uses the telephone while seated before the remains of his home in Armenia, [Colombia], which was destroyed by the January 25th earthquake."

A couple of problems here: The man lives in South Florida and it's not his home. He's Herald photographer Al Diaz, who was credited with snapping the picture. No correction ran until Riptide called to ask.

"There are screwups, and that was a screwup," shrugs El Nuevo managing editor Roberto Fabricio.

And in the "What's happening in South Florida's most cash-strapped city?" department, some startling figures:

Miami has about 3500 employees and 2794 open workers compensation cases.
"Abnormally high," says City Manager Donald Warshaw. He adds, reassuringly, that most city employees have not filed such claims. Some date back decades.

The city spends about $9.3 million per year to pay firefighters who have hurt their backs, city drivers injured in accidents, and others, reports Mario Soldevilla, the city's administrator for risk management. One big problem: Miami only employs four adjusters.

Commissioners recently approved a search for a private firm to administer the claims. Results due March 22.

The days of hippies and 50-cent burgers are long gone from Coconut Grove. Now say goodbye to a homegrown rag. The Coconut Grover, a ten-year-old monthly newspaper that called former city manager Cesar Odio a liar before he went to jail, is no more.

Editor/publisher Jack King, who halted publication at the end of 1998, says he had a difficult time attracting advertisers. The market in the city's wackiest hood is left to the Coconut Grove Times and publisher Elena Carpenter, a former Grover general manager and co-owner.

At age 53, King plans to spend his time setting up sailing races and managing other events.

The unfortunates peddling StreetSmarts, a magazine about the homeless, say police have been giving them a hard time lately. Not just in Miami, where the cops once torched the belongings of dozens of people living in a city park, but in suburbs such as Pembroke Pines, North Miami, and Davie.

StreetSmarts publisher Carolyn Blair cites numerous examples of cops demanding licenses and the like. Andrew Kayton, Florida ACLU legal director, is concerned, but hasn't confirmed the incidents.

After hearing about the complaints, Miami Police Chief Bill O'Brien instructed officers to be kind. Cops have even advised the homeless on better sales techniques, he contends. "We are far from giving 'em a hard time," O'Brien says.

This stinks.
Just weeks after New Times chronicled the travails of the hapless University of Miami police force ("Keystone Cops at College," December 31, 1998), two whistle blowers, Ofcr. Andrew Allocco and Sgt. Abraham Fernandez, have been canned.

The pair call their firings "retaliatory" for exposing malfeasance and inefficiency within the tiny department. Their boss, UM Public Safety Director Henry Christensen, declined to discuss labor matters.

as told to Chuck Strouse

Send tips to riptide@miaminewtimes.com

 
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