Look skyward. You may see an attack ad. Yes indeedy, the air war against State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle, who's up for election this fall, continues unabated. It began last month during protests about news hog Elian Gonzalez, when planes flew over the city tugging banners that read, in Spanish: "Why have you abandoned us?" It continued on Martin Luther King Day, when the Liberty City parade was strafed by pilots pulling signs that accused Rundle of discriminating. And aviators graced the recent Calle Ocho festival with planes delivering the message that "the exile doesn't forgive" her and that she's the "disciple of Janet Reno," who's leading the effort to rip the kid away from his distant relatives. "Amusing and annoying," Fernandez Rundle terms the ads. "They were designed by my enemies to misrepresent my relationship with the Elian case." For the record the SA is Reno's disciple; she worked for her. But her only public comment on the Elian case has opposed her former boss, recommending the feds should have done more research before deciding to send him back. Rundle is not taking the raids lightly. She's already amassed $125,000 or so in a campaign fund.

Riptide is encouraged to note schools superintendent Roger Cuevas, who is paid $233,000 per year, was his usual eloquent self last Wednesday. Board member Marta Perez asked Cuevas to justify the transfer of former school police chief Vivian Monroe, who has long supervised 180 employees at a salary of $89,000 per year. Now, as commander of the investigative unit, she will oversee a whopping total of six -- at the same pay. Said the super: "Um, the uh police department is a thoroughly new entity to the school district. The special investigative unit has been around for many years, and the primary function was to do, uh, personnel investigation, uh, robbery investigations at school sites. Because of the complexity of our community diversity, uh, the board, uh under the direction of the former superintendent, decided that we needed uniformed officers at each of our secondary schools. That changed the scope and the spectrum of the entire uh, [pause] uh, police, policing of our schools. Uh, it took away from our investigative units. We have a dual function.... Uh, it requires an additional person to oversee... And that's the reason we are doing what we are doing."

Remember Eastward Ho!, the effort to attract developers back from the 'burbs? Well fuhgeddaboutit. Miami-Dade County is quietly considering moving almost 500 employees, virtually the entire building department and many others, to a location just west of Florida's Turnpike on Coral Way. Within a month County Manager Merrett Stierheim will recommend the plan, which is designed to bring permitting services closer to the subdivisions on the Everglades' edge, says Pete Hernandez, a senior Stierheim assistant. "This is the center of all the [building] activity," he notes. "We are trying to get the services closer to the people."

Report from Florida International University. After a New Times cover story (see "A Shakey Machine") described sleaze on the school's basketball team, hundreds of papers disappeared from distribution points, including one in the Graham Center. Our on-campus moles blame faculty and at least one team member. Nothin' like a free exchange of ideas, huh?

New Times has some national awards to call its own this week. Jacob Bernstein and Steve Satterwhite took first place in Lincoln University's (Missouri) Unity Awards for their story "The Bitterness of Sugar Hill" (July 22, 1999), about a public-housing boondoggle. And editor Jim Mullin placed first for a column, "Saviors of Virginia Key," (April 1, 1999).

Tips? Call 305-571-7605 or e-mail

[email protected]

KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
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