County schools are supposed to teach our kids to do the right thing. And the best way to instruct is by example, right? So Miami-Dade school officials should be embarrassed and ashamed. Hell, they should be mortified by Riptide's discovery that there has been no recycling program at 75 percent of county schools since last August 1. That's right. For almost eight months, without clearly informing the school board, district administrators have forced kids to toss recyclable paper, cardboard, and cans in the garbage. "That's an outrage ... incredible," says board member Marta Perez. "I will bring it up in the management and accountability committee and see what we can do about it." The problem began last summer, when the board's contract with Browning-Ferris Industries expired. Seems administrators went looking for a replacement and nobody wanted to provide the service at the rate BFI had offered for several years. The administration threw out plans submitted by three companies to charge between $551,000 and $1.8 million more per year than BFI. Then it arranged for a contractor to pick up only paper at the busiest sites. Cardboard and cans be damned. Jaime Torrens, an administrator in charge of the recycling program, says a new plan will be presented to the board in the next few weeks. "This is not anything we are trying to hide," Torrens comments. "It's unfortunate. This isn't the way we would like it to be. But it should be [remedied] shortly."

Coming this week: Debbie Ohanian versus Miami-Dade County. The American Civil Liberties Union and legal top gun Bruce Rogow will take up Ohanian's cause against the county's heinous anti-Cuba ordinance in federal court. Ohanian, who promoted the riotous Los Van Van concert last year and is considering staging a bigger show at the American Airlines Arena, may be joined by others. Rogow has pleaded eleven cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, more than any other Florida lawyer. The guy has represented a Rainbow Coalition of transgressors, from rapper Luther Campbell to the Seminole tribe. He once even took the side of David Duke when the racist wanted a place on the Republican presidential ballot in Florida.

It was a foul portent last week when Stanley Arkin, chairman of a county committee considering contractors for the taxpayer-funded, $186-million-plus Performing Arts Center, tried to eject a cameraman from a meeting. And it was perhaps worse -- and a violation of the state's Government in the Sunshine law -- when committee members' ballots were kept secret for several days. Although the cameraman, who worked for a private organization called SunCam, didn't depart, and copies of the ballots were distributed Monday, Riptide is unsatisfied. The project, already among the most screwed up in memory, has a history of backroom deals and shoddy performance that current administrator Gail Thompson should fight to overcome. "It's in everyone's best interest that this be an open process," Thompson says. Here here.

Florida International University assistant basketball coach José Ramos apparently is continuing his untoward behavior. Ramos's boss Shakey Rodriguez recently stepped down following New Times's reports of malfeasance by the hoops squad and its leaders. Former team manager Chris McKeown contends Ramos threatened him March 24. "I was leaving school last Friday when coach Ramos drove up in his green Isuzu Rodeo," McKeown asserts. "He said, 'I hope you're glad that you got what you wanted.... I am going to beat your ass.'"

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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