Mohamed Ibrahim wants to start a string of schools across Miami-Dade. Full-page ads of smiling kids have been running in the Herald's "Neighbors" for months.

Problem is, creditors say, Ibrahim won't pay his bills.

The tangle of bankruptcies and bad checks that helped the Egyptian-born entrepreneur open My Dream Coin Laundry on Biscayne Boulevard was detailed in New Times two years ago. His first educational venture, the Children's Village Montessori, next door to his launderette on NE 88th Terrace, was closed down by Miami Shores inspectors this past month, reports building and zoning director Frank LuBien.

Teacher Maria Singer worked four months to attract clients. She was never paid a nickel. Contractor Pete Lopez installed a metal fence. He contends Ibrahim bounced two checks, then offered $1000 less than he owed. Joe Cole of Empire Plumbing says he has sued Ibrahim for $2000. Dennis Buchanan of Lauderhill installed cabinets, received a bad check for $1500 on June 2, and is still waiting for his money. Other contractors say they were paid after much debate, weren't remunerated at all, or were rewarded only partially for their work.

Ibrahim brushes aside the complaints, though he acknowledges stopping payment on two or three checks. Builders were trying to screw him. "I am not letting people make me the victim," he says. He looks forward to opening two more schools in North Miami and Aventura. Eventually, he says, just about everyone will be paid -- though he plans to sue Cole.

In hyperaggressive Miami that's the perfect lesson. Parents, sign up your kids today!

How's this for misleading?

Two recent Sundays the New York Times ran full-page ads quoting two guys from Fox-Miami (WSVN-Channel 7). Omar Lugones called the new Watergate spoof Dick "a laugh-out-loud comedy." Omar Linares termed the Iron Giant "an animation classic."

Problem is Lugones is a producer of WSVN's Deco Drive. Linares is an assignment editor. Neither one rates movies. The show doesn't even run professional movie reviews.

Both men declined comment. "These guys are qualified, credible journalists," says executive producer David Hatcher. They attend out-of-town viewings, he says. And they're more knowledgeable than anyone else at Channel 7 about cinema. Wow!

If you're wondering about the destination for tens of thousands of Colombians who have fled their homeland because of rebel-inspired madness, look no further. According to the prestigious Colombian magazine Semana, "thousands of rich Colombianos who want to walk without bodyguards" have headed for Key Biscayne. Low crime and a Häagen-Dazs store that sells Colombian specialties are selling points. It's "Chinatown" for Colombians, according to the magazine. Village manager Sam Kissinger likes the description but says the numbers seem high. After all there are only 1250 homes and 4000 condominiums on the isle. "It might not be Chinatown but it is a lovely place to vacation," he says.

On the politics-for-profit front: ATC Group Services, Inc., a Massachusetts firm, filed for bankruptcy on July 26. The very same day the City of Homestead awarded a controversial contract worth millions of dollars to the company's Miami office. The coincidence is particularly, well, dubious because Tomas Mestre, an ATC subcontractor, held a June fundraiser for Homestead Mayor Steve Shiver. Favoritism? No way, says Shiver.

Related Story

"Homestead's Dirt," by Tristram Korten and Ted B. Kissell, July 29

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