Before looking at the weekend highlights from the morning papers, let's quickly address the Help Team/Sun-Sentinel Watch. You know, where the so-called Help Team tries to fix little neighborhood problems like dim streetlights, debris, and, today, missing signs on Pompano "roundabouts." What, is Prince Charles doing a fucking guest editor's stint? In America -- GOD DAMMIT -- they're called traffic circles, not roundabouts. I've been sitting on the sidelines through this Help Team experiment, thinking it might not be so bad. Sure it looked bad from the beginning, but I've been withholding judgment. Here it is: The Help Team is heinous. From the grotesque double-truck ads of the grinning reporters to the pandering nature of the entire project, it's an affront to decent journalism that only saps the energy from the important things the Sentinel is supposed to be doing. I can't go on about this today, but there will be more. First bit of advice: Take the "Sun-Sentinel Watch" off the metro front and put it on the inside. This schlock about signs and lamps should not be taking up such valuable real estate in the newspaper. Onto some points about the weekend papers:
1. The Sun-Sentinel's Saturday edition was like looking in the mirror. On the front page was a story by my lovely wife highlighting Mayor Jim Naugle's wild remarks about affordable housing. The Pulp did that a month ago. (Okay, I admit she did a whole lot better and more professional job of it, but still). I think the Sentinel is starting to learn that the mayor is the gift that doesn't stop giving. And then, who was pictured on the front of the Metro section but Asa Boynton, aka the Hairy Fairy, in all his strange and slightly disturbing glory. This time he called himself the Grim Reaper (and a festive-looking one at that). Boynton is a Pulp fixture who won the first and only prize package ever given away by the Pulp. I heartily extend my congrats to Asa for the success of his political stunt. Not that it was cheap. As reporter Ihosvani Rodriguez rightly point out: "The issue that brought Boyton out in costume is a serious one." Namely overpopulation on the barrier island driven by the greed of folks like Alan Koslow, Steve Geller, and Mayor Mara.
2. The Palm Beach Post's Eve Samples had a very interesting story about a down-on-his-luck real estate flipper Sunday. The Post has done some great stuff all the way through, anchored by the strong and thorough work of Jeff Ostrowski. Check it out here. And if this list of people who have profited the most from the Save Our Homes tax break doesn't convince you that something is wrong (a few of the names you might recognize: Limbaugh, Kozlowski, Fanjul (X4), DuPont, Buffett (as in Jimmy), and Nicklaus), then you might, just might, could possibly be Jim Naugle.
3. The Miami Herald's Carol Rosenberg busted a big scoop about chaos at Guantanamo. It's amazing how creative those rascally Jihadists got with their own bodily refuse. From the story:
"When the guards charged inside shouting orders, they encountered excrement, urine and soapy water spread across the floor. Two guards wielding riot shields and batons went down. Guards behind them let loose with pepper spray, five shotgun rounds of rubber bullets that unleashed 90 marble-sized pellets and something called a sponge round.
''We had two guards down,'' Bumgarner said. "We were losing the fight at that point.''
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If they can fell two heavily armed guards with just a bit of well-placed shit, we might be in more trouble than I thought.
4. And there was more gatormania at the Herald and the Sentinel. Carl Hiaasen's take was predictably on target. He knows about these things, after all, having grown up in the wilds of Plantation, back when University Drive was a dirt road on the edge of the Everglades. Little known fact (which I learned several years back while researching a story about former Plantation mayor Frank Veltri): Hiaasen's attorney father was the right-hand man of shoe company scion and mega-developer Fred Peters. Peters, of course, is the man who carved up Hiaasen's beloved boyhood Plantation for bulldozing and paving. And his brother-in-law is Scott Cowan, the corrupt and hugely pro-development former Broward County commissioner who was thrown out of office and into the clink for campaign law violations. Gives you an idea of the conflicted depths from which one of the greatest Florida novelists (and anti-development writers) of all time has come.
Hiaasen's right, we can't just start killing all the gators. They've been here longer than us. Hell, we've already stolen their habitat and killed countless of their numbers over generations. Fortunately we have an historic precedent for just this type of situation. We must give them complete tax-exempt status, let them sell cigarettes in road-side kiosks, and allow them build gaudy casinos. It's the American way.