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
His Satanic Majesty's RequestFiled Under: FlotsamSixty-year-old José Luis de Jesús Miranda has called himself the reincarnation of the apostle Paul; "the Other," a spiritual super-being who would pave the way for Jesus Christ's second coming; and, eventually, God's son incarnate.
"My purpose," he explained to New Times last year, "is to close down every church so the true church can begin. You could say I'm leading the greatest reformation that has ever happened."
But apparently being Jesus wasn't enough.
In recent months de Jesus decided he was superior to the boy from Nazareth perhaps the lavish house, cars, and diamond -studded Rolex watches he favors were not in keeping with the old image of barefoot, sheep-herding humility. He is now the Antichrist.
To prove his point, the slick-haired de Jesus emblazoned his forearm with a "666" tattoo. In a mass e-mail marketing campaign, he called for his International Ministry flock to follow suit. De Jesus instructed his followers to rally 'round and ink their way into celestial bliss on the evening of Tuesday, February 14, at Tattoo Gallery in South Beach.
"About 20 people got tattooed that day," says Axel Poessy, media director for the Growing in Grace group. Poessy claims that of the 26 countries with which de Jesus is affiliated, four have decided to proclaim a national tattoo day, and encourage even more followers to ink their way to God. The fact that their fearless leader is a former heroin addict and convicted criminal doesn't seem to bother them. Joanne Green
This Perry's a Player, TooFiled Under: NewsYou have to hand it to old school political player William "Bill" Perry III, who has expertly benefited from the generosity of government agencies. Perry's company, Worldwide Concessions, runs restaurants at Miami International Airport that together generate $4 million in revenue a year. Worldwide also owns the Chili's restaurant at Bayside, which was started with a $500,000 loan from the Miami-Dade Empowerment Trust.
And for the past ten years, Perry and publicly traded Central Parking Systems, through a partnership called Airport Parking Associates, have operated MIA's lucrative public parking garages. Last year alone, APA netted $6.8 million. However, an audit and a criminal inquiry prompted by an anonymous whistleblower calling himself "Lance Armstrong" could soon shut off APA's airport money faucet.
Perry, who unsuccessfully ran for county mayor in 1996, initially agreed to answer questions via e-mail. He did not respond by deadline, nor did he return two messages left on his voice mail.
Over the past three months, in e-mails to county officials, including Aviation Department director Jose Abreu and Mayor Carlos Alvarez's chief of staff Denis Morales, "Armstrong" has accused APA of illegally diverting $600,000 in county revenues to Central's retirement fund. "For all we know this could be a profit center for [APA]," he wrote. The electronic deep throat also highlighted Central's woes with the Public Health Trust. This past December, the trust terminated its agreement with the parking operator after an independent audit revealed Central had billed the hospital $350,000 in unauthorized payroll expenses.
Earlier this month, Morales requested the police department's public corruption unit to investigate "unanswered questions and suspicious developments" involving APA, according to a February 4 e-mail from the chief of staff to "Armstrong." Both men declined comment.
This past February 15, during the county's airport and tourism committee meeting, Commissioner Joe Martinez criticized the deal. "What is it that these people do for $6.8 million?" Martinez said. "This is wrong."
Nevertheless, Abreu has requested the commission approve a month-to-month extension of APA's contract. Francisco Alvarado
Reach Out and Suspend SomeoneFiled Under: NewsLast fall, BellSouth's Florida employees were told they would have to submit to fingerprinting or be terminated. That's because a state law called the Jessica Lunsford Act, passed in 2005, mandates that all "noninstructional school district employees or contractual personnel" must have criminal background checks before being allowed to enter schools. BellSouth is a vendor for public schools statewide, so its employees fall under that law.
BellSouth technician Patrick Rousseau and his coworkers were notified by supervisors of the background check in August, and submitted. "I said no problem," recalls the Miami-Dade resident, who is 37 years old and has worked for BellSouth for eight years. "It's for the Jessica Lunsford Act, for the protection of children. Great thing."
But when the results came in two weeks ago, Rousseau says, some 60 Miami-Dade BellSouth employees were suspended for 90 days. Rousseau was not among them, but he says that some of his colleagues' "offenses" were hardly grounds for losing their jobs. "One guy said, öLook, it's embarrassing, but when I was 19 years old I was having sex with my girlfriend in the car and the cops came, so I pled no contest.' Another guy said, öI got into a fight at a bar and I got a battery charge.'" Rousseau himself bartended for ten years. "You know how many bar fights I got into?" he says.
BellSouth spokesperson Don Sadler says no one has been fired, and that "if an employee comes to us and tells us that he has been denied then he is given the opportunity to clear his record." Sadler was unable to say how many employees had done so, however. If the employee cannot clear his record, Sadler added, he will be given an "opportunity to find alternate employment in the company." Isaiah Thompson