Broward News

De La Cruz Empowering Cheapskates Everywhere

Lifestyles columnist Ralph de la Cruz asks us in a headline today, "'Are we tightwads for wanting our 'loose change'?" The answer, before we go any further, is a resounding "hells yes." But here's the key passage, which comes after he tells the story of his family getting overbilled one Thanksgiving:

After that, I started checking out my restaurant bills.

You should, too.

Particularly after you read Kim Urban's story.

Urban is a Fort Lauderdale resident who enjoys occasional dinners at fairly nice places.

Last week she went to an upscale Italian eatery in Fort Lauderdale.

"Service was not good and the food was nothing memorable," she remembered.

When the check arrived, the damage was $42.40. She gave the server $50. And got back $7, not $7.60 as she should have.

The same thing had happened to her a few days before at a cafe in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. And a few weeks before that at a burger/seafood joint in the beach area. Both places rounded her out of 40 cents apiece.

She had asked about it at the burger/seafood place. But the server flippantly asked, "Oh, you want your loose change?"

Urban backed off.

"He shamed me," she said. "But no more."

First off, what's with the single-sentence paragraphs? Damn that's annoying. But more importantly, that missing change, obviously, is to be counted in with the tip. All the server is trying to do is get the freakin' dirty coins out of the equation and off the table. And Urban's ultimate decision to give the waiter only the 60-cent tip was an abomination. The Sun-Sentinel, bolstered by the Help Team debacle, is so full of miserly and small-minded consumerism these days as it is. Why does de la Cruz have to get into the act? Shame, indeed.

After the jump: Chinese corpses and one sick bastard of a Delray Beach cop.

-- Miami Herald columnist Fred Grimm takes a hard look at the Chinese cadavers exhibit which opens this Friday in South Miami. When the Fort Lauderdale city commission voted not to allow the exhibit here, there was a knee-jerk backlash against it. Let's face it, this thing -- for all it's supposed scientific value -- is absurdly unethical and morbid. It has the aura -- if you recognize the reference here, it says something about your own tastes -- of a group of weird rich folk sitting around a table eating the brain of a caged monkey.

-- Stephanie Slater gives us a hell of an outrageous story in the Palm Beach Post. Here's the lede:

"Delray Beach police officer Vincent Balestrieri turned himself in to the Palm Beach County Jail shortly before 9 a.m. today on charges he schemed the police department out of nearly $10,000 by faking military papers that said he had been called to active duty."

Oh that's bad. And Slater, quite beautifully, gives him no quarter. She quotes Police Chief Larry Schroeder saying of Balestrieri, "Crucify him." Then she really brings it home: "During the time Balestrieri has claimed to be fighting in the war, 508 U.S. troops have died in Iraq."

The story has a lot of people talking. One of them, my colleague Tom Francis at NT, has a brilliant idea on how to punish this dude: "Fuck prison. I say they ship the SOB to Fallejuh to do exactly the work he was claiming to do. Plus, someone's gotta drive those Halliburton semi-trucks full of petroleum."

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Journalist Bob Norman has been raking the muck of South Florida for the past 25 years. His work has led to criminal cases against corrupt politicians, the ouster of bad judges from the bench, and has garnered dozens of state, regional, and national awards.
Contact: Bob Norman