"Herald Retreats from Spotlight" could have been the headline for a story that appeared on the Miami Herald's Website February 6, disappeared for a week, then reappeared in the print edition February 13. The lengthy weekend piece by staff writer Tyler Bridges described Miami Mayor Joe Carollo's "hunkering down" and avoiding contact with the press, his colleagues, and supporters. Although the story was only slightly changed between iterations, including omission of a hostile quote by the mayor ("You can take all the cheap shots you want at me"), Carollo critics believe the delay was part of an effort by the newspaper's editors to prop up the mayor's sagging reputation. Commissioner Tomas Regalado mentioned the article on Telemiami (Channel 29), and numerous Spanish-language radio commentators cited it during the week. "I think someone saw it on the Internet and decided there were things that could hurt Carollo's image," Regalado said. Herald managing editor Larry Olmstead didn't know anything about the flap, but said the paper doesn't pull punches. Assistant managing editor Mark Seibel denied nefarious motives: "No conspiracy here," Seibel commented. "Problem was, the story lacked context."

Seems felony charges against two Los Van Van protesters have melted in the South Florida sun. You'll remember when the Cuban band played Miami Arena this past October, eleven people -- mostly outraged Cuban Americans -- were arrested outside during the concert. Ruben Acosta was picked up for assaulting a police officer, and Eugenio Cruz was accused of "criminal mischief." But last week prosecutors officially reduced the charges against Acosta to a misdemeanor, said his lawyer Michael Diaz, the 39-year-old president-elect of the Cuban-American Bar Association. The case against Cruz was dropped long ago. "I'm all done," Diaz comments. "Until next time." Still pending are three cases of misdemeanor disorderly conduct. Working for those defendants, gratis, is attorney Osvaldo Soto, chairman of the Spanish American League Against Discrimination.

A dart for lack of professionalism goes to WSCV-TV (Channel 51) reporter Juan Manuel Cao, who signed an affidavit last month supporting efforts of six-year-old Elian Gonzalez's Miami family to keep the kid in the United States. In a three-page court document, the Cuban émigré states he is victim of a system "where Fidel Castro is worshiped [sic] as a god," and where, at age seven, he was denied "the right and access to buy milk," among other things. Questioned about his objectivity, Cao responds that he's only reported stories peripheral to the custody battle, and that "I didn't say he should stay; I simply told what happened to me." Pressed a little, he acknowledges, "Perhaps my emotion betrayed me when I signed [it]. I knew the risk I took when I did that affidavit."

Finally, as if there hasn't been enough sex in the White House, rapper Luther Campbell is pondering a run for the presidency of the United States. On February 11 the former frontman of 2 Live Crew filed incorporation papers for the Luther Campbell Presidential Exploratory Committee, Inc. Campbell declined comment but a source says he has already hired a New York City campaign manager. "This is not a joke," the source adds. "He's just seeing what kind of support there is out there." One possibility for his platform: loosening gun laws. Police have arrested Campbell four times for weapons possession.

-- as told to Chuck Strouse

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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