Undercurrents

The Herald hustles on the Boulis murder while the Sentinel puts it in cruise control

It was the biggest local news events of 2001, and the hometown paper missed it. Worse, the Sun-Sentinel was scooped by archrival The Miami Heraldon the February 6 murder of Miami Subs founder and cruise-to-nowhere gambling magnate Gus Boulis. Boulis, you've surely read, jumped ship as a young Greek immigrant, built an enormous restaurant empire and an equally gargantuan gambling business, then struck a deal with federal prosecutors that probably led to his shooting on Miami Road just off Federal Highway. While there was nary a mention of Boulis' name in Wednesday's Sentinel, The Herald had details of the killing on all 360,000 front pages.

How did it happen? Herald reporter Wanda DeMarzo hustled. She arrived at the scene quickly after the 9:30 p.m. event, then spent hours talking to people there while ringing others on her cell phone. Her byline appeared on the story along with that of staff writer William Yardley, who was working back at the office. "Wanda is a terrific street reporter," said The Herald's Broward managing editor Rick Hirsch. "Good street reporters don't sit in the office." Indeed the Sentinel didn't show up at all, said Fort Lauderdale police spokesman Mike Reed. (Nor did Sentinel metro editor Rick Robb return a phone call seeking comment.) Sources at the newspaper say there was only one staff writer on duty that night, Shannon O'Boye. O'Boye penned a 3B article about a mysterious shooting, which excluded the identity of the very famous victim. She was already working several other stories, the sources say, so she didn't have time to leave her desk. Police confirmed the dead man was Boulis around 10:30 p.m., quite a while before either newspaper's deadline, but cops are required to inform next of kin before releasing the name to the press. That wasn't done until after midnight, when Boulis' brother-in-law just happened by. "I called Shannon O'Boye about 12:30," Reed says. "She had already gone home."


Who was that Parrothead? Undercurrents has spotted an uncanny facial resemblance between Solee, mascot of the WNBA's Miami Sol, and the fan who wielded a "Free Jimmy" placard at last Tuesday's Miami Heat­Indiana Pacers game. The Jimmy in question, of course, is Jimmy Buffett, who was ejected from his courtside seat at AmericanAirlines Arena February 4 after swearing at a referee during a game with the New York Knicks. Compare these pictures of the fan and the mascot, and you have a perfect match, we contend. Given the close corporate ties between the Heat and the Sol, isn't it possible the two teams got together and hatched this supposedly spontaneous act? A Sol switchboard operator acknowledged a similarity in features between the birds but denied that they were one and the same. "It wasn't Solee," she stressed. "He wore green, and Solee doesn't wear green." Yeah, and we have the head of Billy the Marlin sitting right here.


Sacked from his $74K per year job and publicly humiliated by his former bosses at the City of Hollywood, Gary Hakanson has been under attack for a while. Now his kids are caught in the crossfire.

Hakanson, you will recall, was fired as Hollywood's risk manager last March. City bigwigs claimed he cost taxpayers a bundle by mismanaging an insurance fund. Hakanson contends he had angered City Manager Sam Finz, among others, by exposing misuse of the fund. Hakanson is suing to get his job back.

Behind this soap opera is, well, another soap opera. Hakanson divorced his wife in January 2000 and married a Hollywood Police Department secretary, Lisa Laurenzo, this past October. Because the city pays insurance costs for employees' spouses, Hakanson once again has coverage under his ex-employer's program. But Hollywood is not insuring Hakanson's 18-year-old-son or his 14-year-old daughter. Why not? Hakanson's replacement, James Carnicella, who made the call, says he is just trying to save taxpayers a dime.

That's baloney, says former Hollywood city attorney Pamela Terranova, who is representing Hakanson. She says the city has regularly paid insurance costs for stepkids in the past. "They are playing politics," Terranova declares. "Jim Carnicella and Sam Finz are toying with Gary."

 
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