If a good newscast is aired in a sensation-drenched market and nobody watches, did it really happen? While you're pondering that one, tune in to WAMI at 10 p.m. on a weeknight for The Times. Though often uneven, The Times never suffers from a lack of ambition. Better yet, the show displays that rarest of TV-news qualities: a sense of humor. Although anchor Ben Mankiewicz gives viewers the stern anchor eye when a story calls for it and can talk policy with the best of them, his bemused smile and self-deprecating attitude are truly refreshing. The great thing about Mankiewicz is that you're never quite sure if he's being serious or if he's sending up the whole TV-news genre in a sort of meta-newscast that's half Peter Jennings, half Dennis Miller. Definitely the kind of guy we'd like to have a few beers with.
If a good newscast is aired in a sensation-drenched market and nobody watches, did it really happen? While you're pondering that one, tune in to WAMI at 10 p.m. on a weeknight for The Times. Though often uneven, The Times never suffers from a lack of ambition. Better yet, the show displays that rarest of TV-news qualities: a sense of humor. Although anchor Ben Mankiewicz gives viewers the stern anchor eye when a story calls for it and can talk policy with the best of them, his bemused smile and self-deprecating attitude are truly refreshing. The great thing about Mankiewicz is that you're never quite sure if he's being serious or if he's sending up the whole TV-news genre in a sort of meta-newscast that's half Peter Jennings, half Dennis Miller. Definitely the kind of guy we'd like to have a few beers with.
No, the term "Best Public Art" isn't necessarily an oxymoron, even though a lot of what passes for public art in South Florida may be public but is hardly art, or at least good art. We used to wonder what on earth possessed the county to spend money on Accordant Zones, the pair of 1995 coral-rock sculptures by Ned Smyth and Barbara Neijna that sit on the banks of the New River in what's more or less the back yard of the county jail. Viewed from the SE Third Avenue bridge as you head south over the river, these chunks of stone might be mistaken for, say, the Tomb of the Unknown Rice Cake and Ice Cream Cone, because that's more or less what they resemble. But take a stroll along the river and catch these towering forms up close, and be thankful we can provide incarcerated residents with our own urban variation on Stonehenge.
No, the term "Best Public Art" isn't necessarily an oxymoron, even though a lot of what passes for public art in South Florida may be public but is hardly art, or at least good art. We used to wonder what on earth possessed the county to spend money on Accordant Zones, the pair of 1995 coral-rock sculptures by Ned Smyth and Barbara Neijna that sit on the banks of the New River in what's more or less the back yard of the county jail. Viewed from the SE Third Avenue bridge as you head south over the river, these chunks of stone might be mistaken for, say, the Tomb of the Unknown Rice Cake and Ice Cream Cone, because that's more or less what they resemble. But take a stroll along the river and catch these towering forms up close, and be thankful we can provide incarcerated residents with our own urban variation on Stonehenge.
The governor wins this easily for getting caught on camera saying, "Kick their asses out." It's not so much the words, which aren't exactly governorly, but it's that he said it at a sit-in at Bush's executive office suite while two black legislators protested his "One Florida" plan. Jeb made his remark while the camera was rolling. Our friend, Jon the stoner, has some advice for the governor: "You know those big, uh, movie camera-looking things on those dudes' shoulders that have, like, television station logos on them? They are like filming you, man. It's got to do with like, images, man. And, uh, people can actually see it on TV later. So, dude, chill, when those things are, um, like,… oh shit, I forgot what I was talking about, man." Jon is right, Jeb. In fact we'd have thought Papa George would have warned you about that already. But the quote was just part of a bigger gaffe -- his killing of affirmative action for minority college students. Well, actually, it's not much of a gaffe when it's cold and calculated, is it? While affirmative action may not be a perfect system (perhaps it should also be based on economic factors rather than simply race), Jeb's move stunk up the place. It's no time to go backward on race relations, Jeb.

The governor wins this easily for getting caught on camera saying, "Kick their asses out." It's not so much the words, which aren't exactly governorly, but it's that he said it at a sit-in at Bush's executive office suite while two black legislators protested his "One Florida" plan. Jeb made his remark while the camera was rolling. Our friend, Jon the stoner, has some advice for the governor: "You know those big, uh, movie camera-looking things on those dudes' shoulders that have, like, television station logos on them? They are like filming you, man. It's got to do with like, images, man. And, uh, people can actually see it on TV later. So, dude, chill, when those things are, um, like,… oh shit, I forgot what I was talking about, man." Jon is right, Jeb. In fact we'd have thought Papa George would have warned you about that already. But the quote was just part of a bigger gaffe -- his killing of affirmative action for minority college students. Well, actually, it's not much of a gaffe when it's cold and calculated, is it? While affirmative action may not be a perfect system (perhaps it should also be based on economic factors rather than simply race), Jeb's move stunk up the place. It's no time to go backward on race relations, Jeb.

Police departments in general are notoriously secretive and manipulative with their information. Some of the secretiveness is for good reason -- if a crucial fact in an ongoing investigation gets out to the press, it could hurt the case. The manipulation comes into play when a key fact could make the cops look bad. Like the fact that an unarmed, handcuffed suspect was given a black eye on the way to jail. Things like that. The worst police PIOs (Public Information Officers) will thwart journalists' efforts to get at records that reveal such things, delaying the release of key documents or going as far as outright lying about their existence. Such practice is against the law and often ends up biting the department in the ass, but it's done all the time anyway. And still other PIOs are always trying to manipulate the way a reporter writes a story. When it doesn't come out the way they want it, they take it personally and begin obstructing certain members of the fourth estate. Unlike those scoundrels Mike Reed plays it straight. He gets records and promptly faxes them to the reporter. He doesn't play favorites. He doesn't gum up the process, and he doesn't try to write the story for you. He's a classic, professional, just-the-facts-ma'am kind of cop. The way it should be.
Police departments in general are notoriously secretive and manipulative with their information. Some of the secretiveness is for good reason -- if a crucial fact in an ongoing investigation gets out to the press, it could hurt the case. The manipulation comes into play when a key fact could make the cops look bad. Like the fact that an unarmed, handcuffed suspect was given a black eye on the way to jail. Things like that. The worst police PIOs (Public Information Officers) will thwart journalists' efforts to get at records that reveal such things, delaying the release of key documents or going as far as outright lying about their existence. Such practice is against the law and often ends up biting the department in the ass, but it's done all the time anyway. And still other PIOs are always trying to manipulate the way a reporter writes a story. When it doesn't come out the way they want it, they take it personally and begin obstructing certain members of the fourth estate. Unlike those scoundrels Mike Reed plays it straight. He gets records and promptly faxes them to the reporter. He doesn't play favorites. He doesn't gum up the process, and he doesn't try to write the story for you. He's a classic, professional, just-the-facts-ma'am kind of cop. The way it should be.
It had all the ingredients of an epic: A diminutive wannabe dictator (Ken Jenne) angling behind the scenes for a colossal power-grab; a protectionist gang of ethically questionable politicos who will stop at nothing to retain their preeminence (county commissioners); and a horde of profiteers angling on both sides of the issue (lobbyists and contractors). In politics, battles are almost always between evil and slightly less evil, and in this case it's hard to tell what side was which. Creating a strong mayor in Broward would, it seems, put too much absolute power in one set of hands. The thought of Ken Jenne with all that power is abominable for just about everybody but his long-time cronies. Yet there are few things as politically frightening as the county commission as it now stands, with the likes of campaign thief Scott Cowan and perennial good ol' girl Lori Parrish sitting up there. Perhaps it would take a dictator to clean Broward County's pipes and bring it to national prominence. Or maybe infamy. Jenne lost out this time, but this one's far from over. It's only round one in this political death match.

It had all the ingredients of an epic: A diminutive wannabe dictator (Ken Jenne) angling behind the scenes for a colossal power-grab; a protectionist gang of ethically questionable politicos who will stop at nothing to retain their preeminence (county commissioners); and a horde of profiteers angling on both sides of the issue (lobbyists and contractors). In politics, battles are almost always between evil and slightly less evil, and in this case it's hard to tell what side was which. Creating a strong mayor in Broward would, it seems, put too much absolute power in one set of hands. The thought of Ken Jenne with all that power is abominable for just about everybody but his long-time cronies. Yet there are few things as politically frightening as the county commission as it now stands, with the likes of campaign thief Scott Cowan and perennial good ol' girl Lori Parrish sitting up there. Perhaps it would take a dictator to clean Broward County's pipes and bring it to national prominence. Or maybe infamy. Jenne lost out this time, but this one's far from over. It's only round one in this political death match.

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