By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By David Villano
By Jose D. Duran
By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By Kyle Swenson
By Luther Campbell
UM spokeswoman Margot Winick says the school welcomes all forms of free expression: "Our students are free to convey any form of political statement they want on campus and on national TV."
Too Many Dogs
Homestead resident Greg Duque was sentenced to 100 hours of community service for a boating violation four years ago. He did his time at the Miami-Dade County Animal Shelter in Medley. Duque loves animals, especially dogs; he found the experience not a punishment, but a pleasure. What he didn't like were some of the things that went on at the shelter. Duque says he complained about sick dogs -- some with communicable maladies -- being penned with healthy dogs, and shelter workers euthanizing animals without even trying to contact owners. He complained about the state of things at the shelter, and says he irritated some of the managers and a few co-workers (Duque can talk a blue streak, expounding ad nauseam on the shelter's deficiencies).
In September a Humane Society of the United States report commissioned by the county verified many of Duque's claims. Unfortunately for Duque, who hasn't worked as a bricklayer since a car accident left him with severe back injuries in 2000, the added cred doesn't change the fact that his nine dogs fell into the hands of that very same animal shelter. "I was keeping my dogs on a vacant lot in the Redlands, but the lady who let me keep them there was having some problems with me," says Duque. "I was trying to find a new place for the dogs when she called animal services and they came and took them." Duque, who relies on disability payments, got six of the dogs out, paying $290 of the $500 total, and tried to round up some cash for the rest. "We kept arguing, and they were telling me that I shouldn't have all these dogs if I don't have the money for them or a place to keep them," Duque recounts. "But I'm getting a place where I can keep the dogs, and by law, those dogs are mine. " After a couple of days of wrangling, Duque finally got an appointment to pick up his remaining puppies. "When I got there they told me one of the dogs was dead, that they put him down because he was sick," Duque says. "That dog was healthy the day before." Duque's other puppy was adopted out.
Sgt. Tom Mangan of Miami-Dade County Animal Services says he sympathizes with Duque but denies doing anything untoward. "We waived hundreds of dollars in fees for these dogs, most of which didn't have any of the required paperwork or shots. We waited much longer than the allotted ten days for Mr. Duque to pick up his remaining puppies. Instead of showing up with the money he owed, or with a verifiable address, he called everyone he could think of -- Internal Affairs, a county commissioner or two, the newspapers I guess -- and came down here and started a fight with an employee. It's a shame that his puppy got sick, but he knows how this place works."
Duque, currently staying with a friend, admits he may have a few too many pets, and hopes to find "happy homes" for his animals. Anyone interested in helping him out can call 786-234-7709.
Tobacco: At Least It's Not Crack
Quitting smoking is no picnic. Just ask Keith Jones, a 34-year-old Army sergeant first class from Homestead. He found himself an unwitting participant in the new reality show, Cold Turkey on PAX TV, the upstanding Christian values channel that features such fine programming as Miracle Pets and the Billy Ray Cyrus vehicle, Doc. Jones signed up for a show with a secretive premise that the producers described as "Big Brother meets Survivor meets something."
The show's producers told Jones he would be on a show called Race for a Lifetime that would pit him against the other housemates in NASCAR racing. Jones got all psyched because he loves his NASCAR. Turns out the producers told one poor sap he'd get to be an astronaut, another that he could design his own underwear line, one lady that she would be queen of her own island. They brought this ragtag group together to live a beautiful mansion in Calabasas, California, near Anna Nicole Smith's house. Then the show's host dropped the bombshell that they were there because they were smokers and they had to quit cold turkey in an hour. If they actually did manage to never smoke again, they'd win money.
Homestead Jones stood strong. He wasn't even angry when the ruse was revealed. He'd been smoking for 22 years, and being the father of two pups, he already knew he had to quit sometime. For a month Jones lived in a teeny bedroom with five guys. They slept on bunk beds that weren't long enough. Their room reeked of beer and dirty clothes.
"It was worse than the army barracks," Jones grumbled. "At least there I'm in charge." The contestants were under constant surveillance, and their every whim was catered to by an unseen staff they referred to as "the people in the walls."