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The Weekend Rundown


The Palm Beach Post behaved like a big-time newspaper this weekend. It was loaded with in-depth stories, ending with Andrew Marra's utterly fascinating story about Palm Beach billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, who has been charged with diddling underaged prostitutes in the confines of his mansion. Marra follows the man's strange and rare life and then sheds light on the investigation into his dealings with 14 to 16-year-old prostitutes brought to him by a Palm Beach Community College madam/Heidi Fleiss wannabe from Loxahatchee named Haley Robson. And then there's celebrity attorney Alan Dershowitz. If you didn't think Dershowitz was an absolute dirtbag before, this should convince you:

"While the private eyes were conducting a parallel investigation, Dershowitz, the Harvard law professor, traveled to West Palm Beach with information about the girls. From their own profiles on the popular Web site, he obtained copies of their discussions about their use of alcohol and marijuana. He took his research to a meeting with prosecutors in early 2006, where he sought to cast doubt on the teens' reliability. The private eyes had dug up enough dirt on the girls to make prosecutors skeptical."

What a worm -- the guy is rich and successful enough not to engage in this kind of smear campaign. But he's just too greedy and amoral to stop. I loved this story, though. Bravo, Marra.

-- On top of that, the Post had Jane Musgrave's intriguing story about a silver-tongued minister with a taste not for little girls, but cold cash. Musgrave does a cracking good job telling us about the "little flaw" of Rev. Steven Flockhart (c'mon, that can't his real name).

-- Then you have the political stuff. The Post gave us side-by-side profiles on the two Democratic gubernatorial candidates, Jim Davis and Rod Smith. Basically, both pieces had the same theme: Smith is a charismatic personality with a gift for mesmerizing crowds, while Davis is the quiet, substantive candidate who actually gets things done. I thought Bob Graham had a great quote in the piece on Davis by Alan Gomez: "LeRoy Collins. Reubin Askew. Lawton Chiles. Bill Nelson. All Democrats who've been elected statewide in modern Florida political history, all of whom had the essential characteristics of Jim Davis. I don't think Floridians take well to being spoken to with excessive flamboyance." That seems true to me.

-- Getting past the Post, sports columnist Tracey Ringolsby of the Rocky Mountain News put South Florida sports scribes to shame by breaking the story on Friday that Jeffrey Loria basically fired Joe Girardi in a snit during the Dodgers' series but reconsidered after Girardi apologized. Joe Capozzi at the Post was the first to follow Ringolsby. This whole thing, of course, exposes Loria as an even bigger ass than most of us assumed. For one, Girardi is doing an amazing job with this young team and outclasses the Marlins owner in a big way. But don't take my word for it. Read here. [This was updated from earlier this morning]

-- Think what you will about Miami Herald columnist Ana Mendendez, who should be congratulated for winning another award, this one from the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. Her artistic-academic approach to commenting on the news of the day doesn't always work. Occasionally it's misguided and amateurish-seeming. But I've really come to like her -- and when she really hits one, she's as good as they come. Anywhere. I think she nailed it with this piece on Fidel Castro.

-- A nightmarish military academy death of a Plantation boy. Sounds like the poor kid went through absolute hell.

Needs Work On His Game

-- And finally, I leave you this morning with Thomas Swick's article on his trip to Russia. I've never figured Swick out -- and haven't really tried very hard, truth be told. He seems a reasonably intelligent, mild-mannered fellow with a decent writing touch and average reporting ability who landed a great travel writing gig. But after Sunday's story I'm starting to wonder what he's been up to on those trips. Here's the top:

The parks yawped with young people drinking beer out of bottles. They occupied benches, or camped on the grass in folksy circles. Sometimes they sang as a guy strummed a guitar.

"Do you drink here because it's cheaper than in bars?" I asked two young women one evening.

"No," said the brunette. "It's not really cheaper. We like to be outside."

Okay, first off, that's an awkward, downright weird, question. Since when is drinking in bars -- in any place from Russia to Flagstaff -- cheaper than buying a bottle at the store and drinking at home? Then comes the next line:

"Julia wore a white T-shirt and jeans so low I could see not just the band but the fabric of her panties."

Whoa. Hold on. What is this, a Sun-Sentinel travel piece or a letter to Penthouse? Where are we going from here, Tommy? Well, Swick then tries to impress the girl with his love of Russian literature and what author does he bring up first? Nabokov. But this Lolita wasn't having any of it. She shoots him down before he pathetically gives up ("I didn't dare bring up Solzhenitsyn"). Swick may be a decent travel writer, but the old bugger clearly needs to work on his lines.

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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

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