Help Team Downsized

Finally, a personnel move at the Sun-Sentinel to celebrate. In what can only be taken as a rare promising sign, the newspaper has moved columnist Steve Svekis off the Help Team to an unspecified assignment.

Let's hope this is the beginning of the end for that experiment in journo-marketing gone horribly awry. Not that Smilin' Steve wasn't Helpful. Why just last week he advised us to turn down our water heaters. Before that he gave us a primer on mosquito sprays. Prior to that came the memorable lede: "I love me some corn." And who can forget his suggestion that we buy Mom fruits and vegetables on her big day?

Don't blame Svekis -- this is definitely a hate the game situation. It was the Help Team that did it, man. Guy should get an award for sticking it out for 14 months without shooting up a diner or something. Let's just hope his next assignment is one that isn't based on some bogus readers survey.

P.S. To get an idea of what it must have been like to be a Help Team columnist, check out the two comments under the farewell story, both from someone named "Chris" from Fort Myers. Chris is just there to bitch about his satellite TV service. "Could use someones HELP here," he concludes. "Thanks for ANY Help." I'm sure one of the dozen or so Help Team members left jumped into action. ... No?

After the Jump: Earl Maucker and Other Weekend Coverage Highlights

-- Sun-Sentinel Executive Editor Earl Maucker wrote a good column for this weekend criticizing public officials like Hollywood Mayor Mara Giulianti and Sheriff Ken Jenne who think they don't believe they can hide behind a wall of silence when things go wrong in their city/agency. It's about time he used that column of his as a bully pulpit for journalists rather than as an apology center for the corporate masters. Not only that, but he reminds us in the lede that he was a scrappy reporter himself once. Which brings us to the obvious conclusion: All these horrible things that have been going on at the Tribune Company can't be easy for him, even though he's administering them. He's gotten a lot of criticism here, but the truth is that he's a decent man put into an indecent position. And that's got to be tough.

-- Check out this enlightening story in the Palm Beach Post by Nicole Janok (with an assist from Bob King) on Charles Nelson Reilly, who died over the weekend.

-- Evan S. Benn writes that Lake Okeechobee should hit record-low levels this week. But the Post's Willie Howard fills us on the upside of the drought for Lake O.

-- Palm Beach Post baseball writer Joe Capozzi writes on his blog about getting "dressed down" by a smiling Dontrelle Willis for a small error.

-- And here's another interesting ditty in the Post from reporter Rachel Simmonsen: A first-grade teacher at Hobe Sound Elementary named Julia Roberts gets hassled to hell and back over a nose stud.

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Bob Norman
Contact: Bob Norman