The Bitch

Hello Dalai

For a man who inspires such serene devotion in his followers, the Dalai Lama managed to incite the wrath of many Miamians during his visit to South Florida this past week. When His Holiness chose to leave his plush accommodations at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, his intimidating parade of security blocked traffic, quickly managing to work up major snafus on Brickell Key.

Even the DL might have found his inner peace greatly challenged had he been attending his own appearance at University of Miami Convocation Center. Juanita Mazzarella, a teacher of the peaceful art of Reiki hands-on healing, gladly surrendered her ticket to the sold-out event after four hours of frustration. "Wouldn't it be nice to enter a big event like this and have to take off your shoes, enter into silence, and see beautifully lit white candles guiding your way to the stage?" Mazzarella wondered.

Instead peacenik patrons first found themselves subject to unclear parking directions, then airport-like security methods which involved a thorough bag search, X-ray machines, scanning devices, and a detection-wand wavedownby an host of zealous guards. The sweaty atmosphere inside the venue seemed more akin to a sporting event, complete with an hour-long ladies' room line and vendors selling insanely overpriced bottles of water and every kind of Dalai Lama trinket imaginable. The Bitch doubts this simple, ascetic man would approve of the T-shirts, keychains, books, and posters plastered with his beaming likeness. What should have been an experience of mellow enlightenment turned into something closer to the excruciating irritation of watching Eddie Murphy's abominable 1986 Tibetan torment The Golden Child.

Alexandra Wensley, director of communications at the Mandarin Oriental, sweetly but firmly informed The Bitch that she couldn't possibly be persuaded to comment further on details of the Dalai Lama's visit, but assured that he had a wonderful stay. She did let slip that a few members of the staff were even allowed to meet with him. Whether that was under a work-related, room-service circumstance remains unknown.

To those responsible for the disorganization behind this significant event, all The Bitch can say is: Namaste (I honor the divinity in you, which is also in me).


Minority Rapport

Miami City Hall has been abuzz with aspirants to the dais ever since September 22, when Gov. Jeb Bush looked up from hurricane and big-brother duty long enough to suspend Miami City Commissioner Art Teele,who was charged with assault in connection with an incident three weeks earlier in which he allegedly tried to run a police officer off the road. The volatile rascal himself has been keeping a low profile, allowing a network of pastors and activists from his district to build demand for a special election, in which he, as well as any number of District 5 residents, could run.

Many prefer this election to its alternative, having an appointee selected by the remaining commissioners fill Teele's seat. What right, they argue, do an Anglo and three Cubans have to pick their representative for them? On the other hand, given the somewhat specious case against Teele (unless the long-rumored corruption probe finally gets off the blocks), it is entirely possible he could be back in office by the end of the year. Who would want to go through a campaign, only to lose the seat in a couple of months? Commissioner Angel Gonzalez's chief of staff, Frank Castañeda, said Monday that his boss was leaning toward an appointment for that reason.

But as of press time, who that appointed person might be was still an open question. Gonzalez wanted to defer the decision until he'd had time to meet with candidates Wednesday morning. Commissioner Joe Sanchez said he wanted a woman to take the job. "You live in District 5?" he joked to New Times as a way of not revealing his choice, which will probably be Jacqui Colyer. Colyer is a workforce development consultant and long-time community activist who unsuccessfully ran for a state seat in 2000 and 2002.

At a community forum in Hadley Park on Monday evening, Colyer was handing out purple flyers urging people to call the commission and ask for her appointment. The number she listed on the flyer was for Tomás Regalado's office. Regalado, who rumor had it was going to nominate former commission appointee Richard Dunn, said Colyer came to his office and told him she was "on the short list."

"I said, 'What list?'" Regalado recounts, professing ignorance. "I think the mayor is trying to guide this process."

Mayor Manny Diaz, perhaps too busy guiding the process, didn't return phone messages. Meanwhile, staff for Johnny Winton's office, as well as certain city staffers at the behest of manager Joe Arriola, met with several interested candidates in the past week, a range of up-and-comers, never-heard-ofs, and usual suspects. The general sense gleaned from these staffers is that Winton, and maybe Diaz and Co., were trying to identify new blood, someone fairly young and not from the old guard of black Miami politics.

But perhaps another motive was simply trying to derail or at least stall the relentless campaigning of Bishop Victor T. Curry. Curry, of New Birth Baptist Church and its radio station WMBM-AM (1490), is the aspirant with the most star power. He should be able to quell the outcry from those advocating a special election. But his considerable influence could also come back to bite commissioners if Curry brings too much of his activist mentality to the seat. Radio and pulpit are powerful tools.

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