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Cruisin' for a Bruisin'

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And that's where Larry Crow comes in.
Because of the demanding schedules of legislators, Florida law stipulates that a continuance must be granted for any outstanding case involving legislator-attorneys until a legislative session has ended. This year's session wraps up May 3, which means that SunCruz has been able to stall for months and continue to operate in environmentally sensitive areas despite the alleged infractions.

Crow concedes that his relationship with the controversial SunCruz may appear unethical. But he says it's not.

"Here's the thing," Crow insists. "People may think they hired me because I am a legislator. But they hired me in 1991. I became a legislator in 1994."

Maybe so, but the suits of which he was put in charge were filed within the last few months, just as Crow was getting ready for this year's legislative session.

With few exceptions SunCruz has used political connections and aggressive litigation to continue operating in various cities and towns. For the moment, at least, they have not had to battle with anyone in Riviera Beach, where, as that recent Thursday-afternoon cruise came to a close, the passengers lined up at the door, eagerly awaiting terra firma. A few of them listened to Bob, who was still entertaining the troops with Calypso versions of "Fly Me to the Moon," and "Are You Lonesome Tonight."

One of them, Fred Lanier, even said he'd be back, despite spending most of the cruise either asleep or tending to his girlfriend's sick daughter. His Elks Lodge was planning to board the SunCruz V the following week.

"I paid my dues this trip," he announced, leaning against the railing on the boat's upper deck. "Last time I took some home, but this time I left some here."

He was referring, of course, to money.
Nearby, Thelma Bellio lay facedown on a table, a seasickness bag in her left hand. Like lots of people who board a SunCruz casino, passengers and city officials alike, she hadn't realized five hours earlier what she was getting herself into.

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Michael Freedman

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