Ben Waldman has a question for police: When are we going to talk?

Waldman is president of SunCruz Casinos, the cruise-to-nowhere company founded by the now-deceased Gus Boulis. Before Boulis was gunned down in his car just off Federal Highway last month, SunCruz executives were embroiled in a bitter gambling-business dispute with the Greek-American tycoon.

Seems everyone in these parts has an opinion on the killer's identity -- and much of the guessing has focused on SunCruz. So you'd think the company president, and perhaps some of his lieutenants, would be high on investigators' interview lists.

Not so. At least not if you believe Waldman. He wonders if the Fort Lauderdale Police Department is slacking. "It's unbelievable to me that they haven't come here to talk yet," Waldman says. "I've seen more attention paid to a parking ticket. Either they aren't doing their job, or they know something we don't."

Police spokesman Mike Reed won't discuss whether anyone at SunCruz is a suspect. But speaking generally he contends there is a reason for detectives' reticence about talking with some of Boulis' former associates.

"Sometimes you only have one shot to talk to people, and you want to save that shot until you have a lot of information that you want to confront them with," he says. "Let everyone be assured this is a very active investigation."

All the publicity surrounding the murder hasn't hurt SunCruz, says Waldman. Business is going swimmingly. "[The murder] hasn't affected anything here," he says.

After state regulators took his daughter, judges humiliated him, and Sun-Sentinel editors fired him, you'd think Paul Scott Abbott would throw in the towel.


Readers of New Times may recall Emma Trelles' February 24, 2000, cover story "Take the Child and Run." It highlighted Abbott's quixotic attempt to force the state to return his daughter, Ashleigh, who was taken from him in 1998. The state accused him of no wrongdoing, but ordered the three-year-old to a shelter after she came home one day with a fat lip. The story also cited numerous activists' concerns about Florida's system of foster care. The state's Department of Children and Families (DCF) unnecessarily keeps too many kids from their parents, they said.

Last month a report by the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform urged Gov. Jeb Bush to sack Kathleen Kearney, chief of the DCF. The reason: "Florida's vulnerable children can't wait."

And last week the leader of one of South Florida's most prominent institutions, Coral Gables Congregational Church, took Abbott's side during a court hearing on Abbott's financial status. The result: several deputies escorted senior pastor Donna Schaper from Broward Circuit Court Judge Dorian Damoorgian's courtroom. "I cannot help but declare the court proceedings immoral, unjustified, and just plain cruel," Schaper opined. "We are "protecting' a child by destroying her deepest bonds."

The next hearing in Ashleigh's case is set for March 29, two days after the girl's sixth birthday. "She'll have spent half her life in this mess," Abbot laments. "And I've spent a half-million dollars on this case."

If Hollywood City Manager Sam Finz retires, former city commissioner Dick Blattner may be in line to take his job. After all, Blattner is vice-chairman of the city's budget advisory committee and a close ally of Mayor Mara Giulianti. At a commission meeting last month, activist Howard Sher bemoaned the possibility -- and prompted a salacious snicker from the gallery. "I don't want you to shove Dick down my throat," Sher recalls saying. Then he continued: "Mara, you personally manipulated Dick." Sher denies an intentional double-entendre.

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Chuck Strouse is the former editor in chief of Miami New Times. He has shared two Pulitzer Prizes and won dozens of other awards. He is an honors graduate of Brown University and has worked at newspapers including the Miami Herald and Los Angeles Times.
Contact: Chuck Strouse