Think things have been tough for former United Nations ambassador Jeanne Kirkpatrick lately, what with soul sister Elizabeth Dole dropping from the presidential race? Consider the problems of Kirkpatrick's son, John, a Miami lawyer. The Florida Bar recently suspended junior for three months after he improperly withdrew $9535 from client Rimon Dalal's trust account. Kirkpatrick denies any malfeasance. Then there was the time in April 1998 that police arrested the bad-boy barrister for battery and resisting a police officer with violence. Cops claimed he was fighting with his girlfriend, Yasmin Cantera, but charges were dropped when she refused to cooperate. And oh yeah, in January 1997 police charged Kirkpatrick with trying to choke Cantera, who was three months pregnant. He entered a domestic violence program. Then there were arrests for DUI, obstructing justice, and providing false information. On the last two, a judge withheld adjudication.

In a rare eulogy, Riptide this week pays homage to Dakota, a 945-pound, seven-year-old manatee snuffed by flood gates this past September near the Black Point Marina in South Miami-Dade. The big fella, who was raised in captivity, gained national notoriety on the Today Show in August 1996, when he was released into the wild. Following his emancipation, he floated throughout the region while wearing an electronic tracing device that allowed animal lovers to monitor Dakota via satellite. Now manatee maniacs aim to refurbish the Black Point gates, which have killed about four of the endangered creatures. Over the years 60 manatees have been whacked by the flood-control structures. And hey, there are just 50 manatees left in Miami-Dade waters. Dakota was necropsied in St. Pete, then cremated. "He was friendly to people he knew, but skittish in the wild," says county biologist Keven Mayo. "He was a success story."

Remember Ramon Mestre, the guy who chained himself to the Herald's doors in the Seventies to protest the way the newspaper ignored human rights violations in Cuba? Mestre later went to work on the editorial board, then took over El Nuevo's opinion pages. Well he's gone, at least for a while. His name vanished from the masthead two weeks ago. After Riptide (and others) called to question his disappearance, a farewell column appeared. Mestre may return, but the column implied a dispute (confirmed by a staff member) between Mestre and El Nuevo editor Carlos Castañeda. They apparently argued about delayed publication of a lengthy interview with Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez. Remarks Castañeda, who denies any bad blood: "He said he was going to Spain and I said, 'Why not start your sabbatical now?'"

With hurricane season winding down, it's time to turn our collective attention to a more important season: college hoops. Up in Maryland, former Miami High basketball player Steve Blake arrived in the limelight. An October 14 article in the Baltimore Sun touted Blake as a likely starter for the Terrapins. The story also recounts his history as a nomad who transferred from Killian High to Miami Senior, then, after the Florida High School Activities Association stripped his eligibility following a New Times investigation, to a Virginia basketball, er, military academy. Said Blake's father, Richard: "I did everything I had to do legally. We never got a chance to tell our side of the story, and Steve was guilty until proven innocent." Blake evidently forgot that his wife spoke with New Times. It also must have slipped dad's mind that his son clearly broke the rules and never lived in the Miami High district.

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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