Gang Related

Mass transit trouble and coked-up greyhounds

Many faithful -- okay, a fewfaithful readers of The Bitch have written to inquire about an earlier reference to throwing gang signs. Some have expressed a desire to get in on the bandanna-happy action. So here is some lowdown: Before the deployment of complex gang greetings may commence, one must first belong to a gang.

Therefore:

All readers must join a gang.

All gangs must adopt a name.

All gang names must contain the word "Bowery."

Bus-ted and Disgusted

Eric Oriolis a 49-year-old cook from Hallandale who -- and The Bitch totally approves of this -- gets around using public transportation with assists on the macadam from his bicycle. Lately, though, Oriol says he's been getting nothing but a cloud of diesel smoke from the Miami-Dade Metrobus drivers on South Beach, where he needs to be for work and errands.

Oriol contends that bus drivers don't want to stop to allow him to load his bike on the racks on the front of the buses on routes C and K in Miami Beach because it puts them behind schedule -- as if the traffic on Collins and Washington is really moving with the quickness.

"I was at the bus stop across the street from Miami Beach City Hall," Oriol recounts. "When the bus driver saw me waiting with my bike, he stepped on the gas and left me standing there." Oriol reports four similar incidents over the past month, and says a complaint he filed with the Miami-Dade Transit Agency on June 1 has gone unanswered.

"I'm black, and a lot of the bus drivers are black," says Oriol. "So I asked one of the drivers: 'What's wrong with you black guys?' and he said, 'Well, the white guys don't stop for passengers with bikes, either' -- as if that's an answer."

The MDTA's spokesman, Manny Palmeiro, didn't return calls from The Bitch, who is just trying to help a fellow public transit user out.

Blow: It's Not Just for Humans Anymore

A recent article in the Tampa Tribune revealed that more than 100 greyhounds have tested positive for cocaine at Florida racetracks over the past three years. In fact ten dogs have tested positive at the Flagler Dog Track, and thirty-nine positive tests came out of the Hollywood track.

Regulatory agents and animal advocates agree that the positive tests might not be the result of intentional doping. That is, owners probably aren't giving the dogs coke to make them lose weight or run faster. "Cocaine wouldn't be the drug of choice to fix a race," says David Roberts, director of Florida's Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering.

Apparently there's so much coke floating around Florida that it's being accidentally ingested by dogs. Transference from a trainer's hand to the dog's skin and thence to the bloodstream, and inhalation of crack smoke from nearby baseheads are two of the ingestion theories proposed to The Bitch. By the time regulators get lab results, weeks have passed and there's no way to apprehend the culprits. One thing, however, is clearly illuminated by the testing: Hollywood is where the party's at.

The Evidence and the Envelope

When Lt. John Eller asked investigator Ramon DeArmas to get some boxes from the evidence room at the state Medicaid Fraud Control Unit's Miami office on April 14, DeArmas seemed to be feeling okay. But when the lieutenant asked for another carton related to an unsolved older case, DeArmas, a 49-year-old ex-Miami cop, became sick so suddenly he had to sit down, according to an affidavit. Then he had to go home. DeArmaslater called the bureau and said he'd need the rest of the week off. And that, finally, made Lieutenant Eller suspicious: DeArmas is in charge of the evidence room.

What Eller had requested were three envelopes of cash totaling $5034.41 that were part of a criminal case. When Eller checked himself, the money was gone. So Eller and another Medicaid investigator opened an unlocked drawer in DeArmas's office desk and found "several property/evidence envelopes which had been cut open," according to the affidavit. The envelopes were, of course, empty.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement heavies were called in, and you can guess the rest: DeArmas faces two counts of grand theft and two counts of tampering with physical evidence, all felonies. Frankly if the allegations are true, The Bitch would expect an ex-cop-turned-fraud-investigator to make crime pay a little bit more, or at least to make the caper more interesting.

Air Cristol

When Miami-based Arrow Air avoided filing for bankruptcy last week, the jurist who approved the cargo airline's reorganization plan was pleased with his work.

Chief U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Emeritus A. Jay Cristol, himself an avid aviator, wrote a poem celebrating the solvency of this 520-employee air carrier:

"As of today I shot an Arrow into the air.

The reorganization plan was very fair.

Go fly your birds everywhere.

Haul your cargo with a great deal of flare.

Keep your planes on the runway and out of the muck.

May you continue to operate with the best of luck."

When Two Tribes Go to War....

In the wake of much eulogizing in el exilioabout Ronald Reagan's heroic role in the anti-Castro struggle, retired banker and voluble dialoguero Bernardo Benes believes one of the Gipper's little-known legacies will inspire some Cuban Americans to vote Democrat this fall. At the behest of President Jimmy Carter, Benes met secretly with Fidel Castro as part of a mission to open a dialogue between the U.S. and Cuban governments. Benes met with Castro more than a dozen times. His negotiations in late 1978 led to the release of 3600 political prisoners. Hard-line exiles in Miami branded him a communist for merely sitting down with the dictator.

But Benes points out that, to be fair, Reagan must be considered a traitorous dialoguero as well -- Reagan also sent the former banker to meet with Fidel. During a 1985 trip to Havana, Benes relayed an offer: The U.S. would normalize relations, end the trade embargo, and guarantee Cuba a quota of sugar sales if Castro would stop exporting his revolution. According to Benes, the bearded comandante agreed. But as soon as Benes returned to Miami, the Reagan administration launched Radio Martí, beaming anti-Castro propaganda to the island and scuttling the diplomatic opening.

Benes concedes that hardliners would likely only applaud Reagan's trickery because, in the end, he double-crossed Castro (and created a lot of radio jobs for exiles).

Carded

Fifteen years ago, a young English cancer patient named Craig Shergold announced his desire to collect enough greeting cards to secure a place in the Guinness Book of World Records. By May 1990 the boy (who lived) had more than 16 million cards and a record that Guinness retired. Since then chain letters have circulated the country, sometimes referring to a little boy with AIDS, sometimes to a young man with a tumor, always asking the recipient to send a business card to the Make-A-Wish Foundation at a fake address, and pass the letter along. This year the letter -- soliciting business cards on behalf of poor, fictional Craig Shepherd("a 7 year old who has a brain tumor and is very sick with little time to live") -- made its way to South Florida.

It is unclear which local municipality was the first to receive the missive, but so far it has passed through Islamorada, Hialeah, Hialeah Gardens, Medley, Miami Springs, Opa-locka, and the Village of Key Biscayne.

Conchita Alvarez, Key Biscayne's clerk, says she spent about an hour of her time forwarding the letter to twenty other municipalities and mailing the business card. "It didn't take too much time with the computer and all, but it's terrible because your heart goes out to this sick kid," she says. "You know, I sort of remembered maybe getting a letter like this years ago, but I wasn't sure."

The Bitch objects to this scam on so many levels: Children with brain tumors aren't anything to joke about, taxpayer money gets wasted, and besides, what kind of scam is it when nobody makes bank?

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