Ahoy, Yacht Lovers

The Boat Hustle Is Alive and Well

Also stepping up was Alan Keyes, the former Republican presidential candidate and sputtering, hopelessly outmatched antagonist to Barack Obama in his U.S. Senate run in Illinois in 2004.

Shanice was born 27 months ago in a Hialeah abortion clinic. The mother, then 18 years old, told police she went back to the clinic where an abortion had been allegedly performed on her, complaining of stomach pains. She subsequently gave birth to the baby, telling police she could hear the newborn crying for five minutes.

After receiving an anonymous tip, police searched the clinic, but they did not find the body. A second search, eight days later, turned up a dead fetus in a plastic bag. Witnesses told police the bag, which included the umbilical chord and dirty medical supplies, had been thrown on top of the roof of the clinic so police wouldn't find it.

The Hialeah clinic has since closed down.

The office of Miami-Dade Medical Examiner Dr. Bruce A. Hyma determined the fetus — which was linked to the mother by a DNA test — had developed for 22 weeks, two weeks short of the 24-week cut off when abortions are no longer legal. The medical examiner declared the cause of death to be "extreme pre-maturity" and manner of death "natural."

A Miami-Dade grand jury is considering possible murder charges against clinic operators.

Pro-life activists organized the funeral this month, when the medical examiner released the baby's remains. Speakers discussed the need for tighter abortions laws — preferably a reversal of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court case. Keyes said man's laws should not supersede God's laws. Abortion, he contended, is probably the most important issue facing the country in the upcoming election.

That seemed a fair statement Tuesday morning in a church where the apparent grief of strangers mixed with rank political messages that seemed irrelevant to the child being memorialized. Gospel music played to a sea of mourners, mostly wearing black, many tearing up at the ceremony. A line of attendees placed red roses on the tiny white casket before it was lowered into the ground.

Lost in the details of the tragic events was the mother, now 20 and a Broward County resident. On the advice of attorneys, she declined to talk about the case. She was at the funeral, however, surrounded by her new friends in the pro-life community. She tearfully placed the final rose on the little coffin.

Don't Mess with the Dragon

In times of economic crisis, the crime rate rises. Sure. But why does the riffraff keep picking on the Blazing Paddles dragon boat team?

Dragon boats are wooden affairs that seat 20 people. A drummer sits up front and bangs a drum to keep all the paddlers in rhythm; a steerer pilots the boat by using a long paddle like a rudder.

A few months ago, members of the Blazing Paddles team chipped in to buy a brand-new boat — for $11,000. The thing was 45 feet long, and they struggled to find a safe place to put it. A friend offered an empty house on the Davie canal — a model home for a community that was never completed due to the housing bust.

Shortly afterward, someone broke in and stole 50 brand-new PFDs (life jackets) from the house. Those suckers cost about $85 apiece. Then, about two weeks ago, the paddlers showed up to pull the boat out for practice only to find that someone had fired 25 rounds through the lock on the door. The gunfire sprayed the boat. Holes pierced the hull. It's expected to cost $6,000 to repair.

A team member named Kristin Ferrari said that if anyone has information about the crimes, please email blazing_paddles@yahoo.com or see paddleorbepaddled.com. The team might name the boat after the tipsters (or at least give them a free cruise down the Intracoastal).

Kristin dug for a silver lining. "At least we have street cred now!" she said. "We're going to fix it and paint it — and paint bullet holes right where the real ones were." That ought to make them look fierce on the water — especially against their arch rival: a team called Puff.

Rep. Chicken

Supporters of Republican congressional candidate Allen West, who seeks to unseat Democratic U.S. Congressman Ron Klein, say their opponent is chicken. He's been ducking out on scheduled face-to-face debates. "I don't think Mr. Klein likes to be onstage at the same time as Allen," says Mike McCrady, West's campaign manager.

Klein represents a district which snakes along the Atlantic coastline from Jupiter to Hollywood. He took office in 2007 after beating Republican Clay Shaw.

At a debate earlier this month in Coral Springs, the crowd booed Klein. McCrady says he arrived late at the next one and ducked out early. Then Klein backed out of a debate in Boca Raton, saying that he had a meeting to attend in Washington.

"We scheduled the event way back in August," says Peter Lebowitz, a Republican organizer of the Boca stand-off. "I doubt they ever intended to be there."

Lebowitz restructured the event as a town hall meeting with West. The Boca Pointe Republican Club will eat the $3,000 cost. "Klein figures he's got this big Jewish vote down here — they'll vote with their eyes closed," says Lebowitz, a 77-year-old retired businessman.

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