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
By Ryan Yousefi
By Kyle Swenson
Cecil didn't suffer a Chong-like takedown. "They were very polite and no one got arrested," Cecil says of the U.S. Customs agents and Hialeah police. "Still my sales are down 50 percent. I don't know if I'm going to make it or not."
Joe Kilmer, spokesman for the DEA's Miami field office, says the agency and other federal law enforcement authorities are under orders from the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security to clean out from the retail market any glass pipes and other outlawed drug paraphernalia such as pipes disguised as soda cans. "The first round were the people who were supplying the head shops," Kilmer explains. "Now we're just going down the line."
The Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau is about to unveil its new $450,000 "Get Laid Back" summer marketing campaign for Coconut Grove. In more ways than one it captures the essence of the enclave, where people who play together, play with public tax dollars together.
Some in the Grove don't like it because they fear the mischievous will edit down the slogan to "Get Laid." Supporters counter that such revision would serve only to attract even more visitors to the Grove, whose "zany charm and energy are as potent as ever," at least according to the GMCVB Website (www.gmcvb.com).
The GMCVB, which receives millions of tax dollars from municipalities and Miami-Dade County each year, plans to lay out $200,000 for "Get Laid Back." The Coconut Grove Special Events and Marketing Committee and the Coconut Grove Parking Advisory Board have each spread $100,000 on the table. A cluster of hotels is springing for $50,000.
Who will get laid back in the Grove this summer is anyone's guess, but some of those getting paid back are already known. One is Elena Carpenter, zany publisher of Coconut Grove Times, who sits on one of the boards that appropriated public funds for the campaign. Carpenter is to receive $7000 for running Get Laid Back ads in her paper. "I abstained from that vote," she says in her defense.
Other recipients of Get Laid bucks include: Miami Herald, $105,000. South Florida Sun-Sentinel, $70,000. A local radio station, $50,000. Outdoor advertisers, $129,000, including producers of banners, bus bench signs, and bus billboards (get out your spray-paint cans!). Makers of coasters, bumper stickers, flyers, caps, T-shirts, postcards: $34,000. Photographers: $16,000.
Some media types who work or live in the Grove are offended they weren't invited to the advertising orgy. "We've supported the Coconut Grove business community for the entire year. Most of the stories we do are about Coconut Grove businesses and the business district. And then for them to put together a $450,000 ad campaign and we're not even mentioned in there, of course I said, 'You ungrateful sons of bitches!'" exclaims Ron Beasley, editor of the monthlyBiscayne Bay Tribune.
Cindy Bettner, president of Best Tourist Publications, says she busted her butt putting out her colorful Best of Coconut Grove 2004 map, which includes 45 pages of ads, an events calendar, and other information. She wouldn't mind piggybacking on the $20,000 the campaign has budgeted to pay Ocean Drive magazine for the privilege of inserting a Coconut Grove tourist map into one or more of the glossy's summer issues. But she hasn't been able to get a meeting with Turkel or Whitaker to discuss that possibility. That could be because rival map publisher Marshall Steingold is slated to get the Ocean Drive ride. "It's a very small little clique. We call it the Coconut Grove marketing Mafia," Bettner grumbles. "I grew up in Coconut Grove. My family were pioneers. All I care about is helping the community."