The latest brouhaha at the Miami Herald: a supposedly offensive photograph of Lipton Tennis Tournament winner Venus Williams that appeared Monday, March 29.

The paper's internal electronic bulletin boards are buzzing with debate about the picture. Seems some people, including black reporters, are incensed that the artsy photo, which ran on the front page of the sports section, showed the tennis player's back, not her face. A similar photo of a white tennis star wouldn't have been used, they argue.

Herald muckamucks spent much of this past week issuing mea culpas. Reader representative Barbara Gutierrez got into the act on March 30, publishing a thinly reported column that took a strong stand: "More discussion should have taken place."

Executive editor Doug Clifton, no slacker when it comes to apologies, attended a public meeting in Liberty City and also shared with the staff a letter he had written to angry Broward reader Kimberly Carmen: "I am certain racism played no part in the decision to run the photo that so offended you. But I understand why you were offended and why you came to the conclusion you did."

And they said the days of Doormat Dave Lawrence were over.

The gringo on Spanish-language station WQBA-AM (1140) recently was none other than Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Polished, cool, statesmanlike. Even in his second language.

That is, until the host asked him: "When are you going to legalize cockfighting?"

Bush was flustered, but then he thought back. Way back. He'd seen a cockfight in Mexico during his exchange-student days. Didn't say whether he placed a bet.

As to the new Republican-ruled state government legalizing the pelea de gallos, Bush didn't say over the airwaves. But asked his position on the sport this past week by e-mail, he replied, "OPPOSED." Queried about his long-ago Mexican misadventure, he answered, "PRETTY GORY."

Coming soon to a mid-Miami Beach street corner near you: the long-awaited and much-debated bust of Cuban-exile strongman Jorge Mas Canosa.

Any day now the privately financed, $15,000 statue, which Beach commissioners approved for 41st Street and Pine Tree Drive, will be delivered to the home of Luis Hernandez, president of the committee that raised the cash. Hernandez wanted to put it near the Bass Museum at 21st Street and Collins, next to Latin American greats Simon Bolivar, liberator of South America, and Jose Marti, the great Cuban poet and patriot.

No dice, decided the Beach's art-in-public-places committee. An oceanfront location was also nixed. The bronze wouldn't stand up to the salt air. So we're left with the spot near Walgreens.

Hernandez is not delighted by the location, but he's pleased there will be a memorial to the former chief of the Cuban American National Foundation. "Simon Bolivar and Jose Marti fought for freedom," he says. "If they were alive today, they would have fought to have Jorge Mas at their side."

Just the other day school board chairman Solomon Stinson questioned why there are no Miami-Dade high schools named for blacks.

For the record there will be one next year when Booker T. Washington middle becomes a high school. And there will be a school identified with a Hispanic the following year: famous Cuban padre Felix Varela.

But the rest of the county's high schools that are named after people honor only whites: long-ago Dade Commissioner Dan Killian; former teacher of the year Barbara Goleman; inventor Thomas Edison; U.S. President Andrew Jackson; and present board members Holmes Braddock and Michael Krop.

Starting this week, Spanish-language radio host Tomas Garcia Fuste is back on the air. His show, Buenos Dias, Miami, was cut from WWFE-AM (670) in December after he refused to broadcast an anti-gay advertisement.

The show, which is simulcast on television, will air on WRUN-AM (1700) weekdays from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

Although Fuste was talking about suing WWFE a few months ago, he hasn't yet filed. Mediation starts soon, says his attorney Lida Rodriguez-Taseff.

As told to Chuck Strouse

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