In search of cash for his Bicentennial Park boondoggle, Florida Marlins owner John Henry is readying a political trench war that may be the biggest in Florida history. He has hired at least ten lobbyists including former Secretary of State Jim Smith, former State Representative Miguel DeGrandy, former Alex Penelas aide Brian May, and a host of others to urge approval of his proposed stadium, sources say. (A freebie is Marlins' senior vice-president Julio Gonzalez-Rebull, Jr.) It may be the most star-studded group of influence peddlers ever assembled for a local issue in Florida. But even with the big-buck advice, Henry's effort has stalled. Before he can get to Tallahassee, where his lobbying team is strongest, the big fish will likely have to win approval from city and county commissions. Down at Dinner Key two commissioners, Johnny Winton and Art Teele, have stated their opposition to the site. Only Joe Sanchez is a clear supporter. Sanchez started the ballpark rolling December 17 by convincing his commission colleagues -- in a surprise move without public notice -- to allow hundreds of arena visitors to park at Bicentennial through mid-January. "They will park only on the racetrack," Sanchez told his colleagues. "Not on the grass."

What does it take to get rid of a principal in this town? In the case of Miami Norland Senior High principal Carroll E. Williams, it took a student walkout, a stack of union grievances by teachers, accusations of sexual harassment, the school's Parent Teacher Student Association calling for his head, and eight months of bad press. By next week Williams will become principal at Miami Jackson Senior High's night school, sources say. Former Lake Stevens Middle School principal Willie B. Turner will take over at Norland. The Jackson students get a Clinton-esque figure: an alleged lecher who has, in court documents, declared himself president of the continental United States. No, really.

The privatizing pirates are coming to a public marina near you. And if you're a taxpayer, they may pick your pocket. A county committee recently recommended that Westrec Marinas, the United States' largest private marina-management firm, take over facilities at Black Point and Haulover parks. Although chairwoman Susanne Torriente contends Westrec will improve things, some boaters fear prices will rise and county coffers will be emptied. Commissioners will likely vote on the plan in the next few weeks. "I am not happy about anyone privatizing our parks," said Darlene Oliphant, an opponent of the measure. "I just don't want to see 'em commercialized."

Experimental composer and percussionist Lukas Ligeti came to town recently to work on a new Miami rhythm. The Vienna-born-and-trained son of Hungarian-exile composer Gyorgy Ligeti knows how to make music out of migration, having worked with everyone from Deadheads to Nubians. Backed by thousands in public and private grants, Ligeti is putting together an ensemble of Magic City musicians who will mix Cuban batá, Haitian compas, and South Beach electronica. It's all part of Continental Harmony, an effort to commission songs in the styles of all 50 states. Ligeti's piece will be performed April 15 at the Miami Beach Botanical Garden.

Clubland impresario Chris Paciello may be locked away on murder charges, but South Beach business partner Ingrid Casares isn't wasting time moping. Casares and Paciello's archrival Gerry Kelly join forces this Sunday to present über-hot DJ Victor Calderone at the Kelly-managed club, Level. Calderone, by the way, has been a regular at Liquid, co-owned by Paciello and Casares. Question is will Calderone's following make a similar switch?

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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