A Riptidian quandary: If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, what do you call plagiarism? In a February 24 Miami Herald obituary of a long-time civil rights activist titled "Clennon King, Dauntless Activist," staff writer Anabelle de Gale described a frightening sequence of events that followed King's 1958 attempt to enroll in the segregated University of Mississippi. "Doctors declared him insane and locked him up, because, they reasoned, only a crazy black man would try to integrate an all-white school. After a 12-day observation period in the mental institution, King was released when the staff said 'it could find no evidence of mental disorder.' The incident has been widely chronicled in civil rights literature, including Taylor Branch's Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Parting the Waters, which describes King as an 'educated, eccentric professor.'" Note the, um, similarity to the words that Miami New Times staff writer Kirk Semple penned in a story exactly seven years before -- on February 24, 1993 -- titled "Meet the Candidate." (At the time King was waging a quixotic, and failed, attempt to win a county commission seat.) "Doctors declared him insane and threw him in an asylum because, they reasoned, only a crazy black man would try to integrate an all-white school. (The incident has been widely chronicled in civil rights literature, including Taylor Branch's Pulitzer Prize-winning book Parting the Waters, which describes King as an 'educated, eccentric' professor.)" Herald executive editor Marty Baron had this to say about the likeness. "Obviously these lines came from the New Times story. And they shouldn't have. Although the reporter tried to make some attempt to verify information in the New Times story independently, she should not have done this."

Oh what a deal! Former Miami Mayor Xavier Suarez, it seems, is buying a place on Brickell this week. The eleventh-floor palace in the Brickell 25 building boasts views of both Biscayne Bay and downtown. It's a whopping 2230 square feet with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a den. For the last year ole X has been living in the apartment at an astoundingly cheap rent (for such a place) of $1250 per month. The selling price is $199,000, also a pretty fair deal for such a location. Even more interestingly, the present owner is the Performing Arts Center Foundation of Greater Miami, an organization that backs Miami's most screwed up and overpriced project, which someday may be built on Biscayne Boulevard. Although the prior sale price, in 1997, is listed in public records as $310,000, Suarez says, "I am not getting one penny of favorable treatment." He points out that comparable units in the building have sold even cheaper than his purchase price. And the county property assessor recently questioned the validity of the 1997 sale. Attorney and big-time political donor Robert Traurig, a Performing Arts Center Foundation member who helped engineer Suarez's lease, notes the earlier listed sale, from Cathie-Ellen Gould McCallum to the foundation, was actually a donation. "This has nothing to do with politics. Nothing," he added.

Kenneth Jiggs McDonald is the radio voice of the Florida Panthers, a longtime New York Islanders announcer, and a member of the hockey Hall of Fame. For more than a month recently he yammered on WQAM-AM(560) -- virtually every time the Panthers took the ice -- about his upcoming laser surgery at the Rand Eye Institute. Boy was he looking forward to calling hockey games without wearing glasses. Then, once the doctors had taken their high-tech tool to his peepers, he boasted in paid promotions that he was completely satisfied. Strange thing, though. Jiggs still wears glasses. They balanced on his schnoz during virtually the entire February 26 game between the Panthers and the Carolina Hurricanes. Although Jiggs did not return a phone call seeking comment, he acknowledged during another game -- last Wednesday's face-off with the Toronto Maple Leafs -- that he hasn't completely abandoned the lenses. He sees just fine close-up, he said. It's just the distances that get to him.

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Chuck Strouse is the former editor in chief of Miami New Times. He has shared two Pulitzer Prizes and won dozens of other awards. He is an honors graduate of Brown University and has worked at newspapers including the Miami Herald and Los Angeles Times.
Contact: Chuck Strouse