Unlucky Number

A Miami Artist becomes an accidental witness to manslaughter.

Last Thursday morning, Lipner took his campaign to the sidewalk in front of the Broward County Courthouse, where he greeted prospective voters who formed a queue outside the metal detectors. The next time Riptide heard from him, he was phoning from the padded walls of Tamarac's University Pavilion.

"I thought that would be a perfect place to ask for votes," Lipner explains. Instead he attracted the attention of cops. "The deputies came out and asked what I was doing. I said I was running for president — and they threw me in handcuffs. Do you see the problem I'm having here? Hillary and Barack run for president and everybody believes them, but the moment I try to run for president, they think I'm crazy."

Unfortunately the incident made it impossible for Lipner and his running mate, Jules, a Siberian husky, to make a photo shoot scheduled for the next day, filling the candidate with regret. "We had her groomed and everything," he says.

Steven Gagnon's Border Cruiser
Steven Gagnon's Border Cruiser

It would have been a photo for the ages.


Wild Ride

How does a nondriver get a ticket?

By Natalie O'Neill

Patrick Strachan might be the worst driver in Miami. The 49-year-old mystery novelist says he has been behind the wheel only once in his life.

As a nervous 16-year-old, he climbed into a driver's ed car, turned the key, and pressed the gas. Then he flew head-on into a group of bystanders and trampled a line of neon orange cones. A doctor later told him he had problems with peripheral vision in his right eye.

After that, Strachan decided he was a bus man. "I said, 'To hell with it,'" he says. "I kept running into things." For more than 30 years, he hitched rides with friends and took public transportation.

But last November, he decided enough was enough. A friend told him about a partially blind little old lady who had just gotten her license. "I thought, If she can do it, I can do it," he says. "I got sick of being a passenger."

But when Strachan showed up at the DMV to get his learner's permit, he found that he already somehow had a driving record dating back to 1992. Four tickets popped up in the system, including driving with an expired and a suspended license.

Public records show Strachan has never been issued a license, only an ID card. "Someone used my name," he says. His theory: A now-deceased older brother, who had run-ins with the law, posed as him.

So he challenged the tickets by writing a letter to the Bureau of Driver Improvement. It read, "I cannot drive. I cannot operate a motor vehicle. I can't even ride a bicycle."

Miami-Dade Police spokesman Delrish Moss says it's unlikely Strachan had his identity stolen. Instead, he might have acquired the charges without having been issued a license — for example, getting busted for driving without a license and not showing up in court. Strachan contends he wouldn't have known how to work the vehicle.

Last week, the officer who wrote Strachan's citation was scheduled to appear in court and identify him from more than 15 years ago. But the hearing was rescheduled to take place in 60 days.

Until then, Strachan says he won't need to drive; he'll be at home writing. His predicament has provided some new literary inspiration. "I feel like I'm living fiction," he says. "I think I'll write a dark comedy about it."

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