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County Commissioners short-circuited last week after New Times revealed Clerk of Courts Bob Lockwood hired defeated Commissioner Ed Kennedy as his $110,000 computer consultant.

"I read it and I thought holy.... I mean Lockwood is paying this guy that kind of money?" roared Commission Chairwoman Lori Parrish. "Ed Kennedy was a glad-hander. He doesn't know anything about computers."

Lockwood hired Kennedy, a onetime telephone-company lobbyist, as his "Project Leader" on the county's massive $27 million project to link justice-system computers. That project is snarled in a software dispute between Lockwood and county staff, with Kennedy leading Lockwood's attack.

"I find that ironic," Parrish fumed. "Kennedy didn't even know how to turn the computer on and off in his own office."

Parrish then offered a historical perspective on her former colleague's technological expertise. When Kennedy was a commissioner, before he managed to lose the 1992 election, the county gave him a computer, which Kennedy didn't use. "He gave it away to government affairs or something," Parrish said. "Here Lockwood is paying that guy a hundred grand, and he gave his computer away because he didn't know how to turn it on or off."

In fairness New Times must report that Kennedy said Lockwood hired him to "bird-dog" and "ramrod" the project, not actually to understand computers. Of his technological expertise Kennedy joked to a reporter, "You and I are probably on the same intelligence level with computers."

Of course, taxpayers aren't paying the reporter $110,000.

From computer wars to media wars: The mighty Sun-Sentinel Co. launched a surprise attack last week against cherished New Times territory; "Undercurrents" must report New Times is severely wounded.

For more than a decade New Times papers in Phoenix, Miami, and other cities have published yearly "Best Of" issues, recommending extra-special shops, food, entertainment, and assorted other activities. This is a very big deal; New Times editors from around the country even gather for a "Best Of" summit conference to plan and, reportedly, to party.

In Broward and Palm Beach, the Sun-Sentinel's weekly publication XS, attempting to capture young readers with edge and attitude, published a similar yearly issue called "Survival Guide."

Then, as New Times entered Broward/Palm Beach, XS became the much more respectable City Link, so safe and dull it actually started appearing inside some Wednesday Sun-Sentinels.

New Times could handle that, but last week City Link went too far. Suddenly "Survival Guide" was no more. City Link staffers got inventive and announced they had discovered an exciting new name: "BEST OF '98."

That hurt deeply. There are crisis meetings inside Broward/Palm Beach New Times, the finest executive minds debating core strategic issues: How can we retaliate? What will we call our guide? Will we still be invited to the "Best Of" party?

How those creative geniuses must be gloating inside the Sun-Sentinel. They finally found a way to get even for the Wissink story.

Undercurrents wants to know about any and all political deals, media screwups, and particularly dumb memos from bureaucrats. Let us know. Call 954-233-1572, fax 954-233-1571, or e-mail [email protected].

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