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Posted by madfloridian in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Mon Oct 20th 2008, 11:11 PM
I love Carl Hiassen. He has been calling Florida out on its scoundrels and scandals for many years.

Last week in his Miami Herald column he called Sarah Palin a "pit poodle", a yapper, not a biter. He called out the McCain campaign on its smear tactics.

This year, smear tactics carry big risk

Last week, the McCain camp unleashed Sarah Palin in Florida. She calls herself a pit bull but she's really just a pit poodle, more a yapper than a biter.

Her attacks on Obama drew rabid cheers from large audiences in Pensacola and Jacksonville. In Clearwater, the Alaska governor declared that Obama doesn't care about U.S. soldiers, inspiring one patriotic Floridian to shout, ''Kill him!'' Another Palin fanatic launched a racial slur at an African-American sound technician for one of the TV networks. These were not luminous, tide-turning moments for the GOP ticket.

Like all states, Florida has people who would never, ever vote for a black man, no matter how qualified he might be. McCain himself says he abhors bigots, but in a close contest he couldn't win the state without them.

Palin's public appearances here were staged at carefully selected stops where the crowds would be a Deep South brand of conservative Republican. McCain's strategists told reporters that Palin's mission was to rally the party base, in which case the party is in deeper trouble than at any time since Richard Nixon's ignominious exit from the White House. While McCain desperately needs to recapture independent and undecided voters, Palin is out preaching to the far-right aisle of the choir. Not a soul who was considering voting for Obama would have changed his or her mind after hearing Palin's low shtick.

Carl is not the only Hiaasen around now. There's his brother, Rob, I believe, and a son, Scott Hiassen.

One Hiaasen would have been enough to make the College of Journalism and Communications proud. But three alumni with the surname that makes politicians sweat are tearing it up in the competitive world of print journalism.

Scott Hiaasen, JM 1993, has been covering general assignment and legal issues at The Cleveland Plain Dealer for nearly two years. He worked at The Palm Beach Post for seven years. And he did a yearlong fellowship at Yale Law School.

Rob Hiaasen, TEL 1981, who works at The Baltimore Sun, is spending a year as a fellow at Stanford University.

Then there’s what’s his name, umm, Carl Hiaasen of the Miami Herald. He’s their father and brother, respectively.

“They were alike in the sense that they were well-read and very newspaper savvy,” recalled Prof. Emerita Jean Chance, who taught Carl and Scott. “They grew up reading good newspapers like the Miami Herald and The Palm Beach Post. They had good noses for news.”

Professor Chance, a great lady and a childhood friend.

Scott Hiassen wrote this almost unbelievable article about how lobbyists got Florida to pay $7.2 million for bottom of Biscayne Bay.

Yes, you heard me right.

Sands and Robinson were selling - and buying - six acres of underwater real estate off the Coral Gables shoreline. The property was a paradox: platted and zoned for 18 homes 50 years ago, then encased in the Biscayne Bay Aquatic Reserve and shielded from development two decades after that. Sands and Robinson had a contract to buy the property from an 81-year-old widow and her family for $445,000. The family members say they didn't know about the developers' negotiations with the state. The state lawyers say they didn't know about the family's contract.

..."To get the deal through the Legislature, Sands and Robinson then hired another well-connected lobbyist: Jim Smith, a former state attorney general and two-time gubernatorial candidate who served briefly as Bush's secretary of state in 2002. Smith also had ties to the DEP: His lobbying partner is the brother of the DEP's deputy secretary.

...."Ultimately, Bush relented, and the Legislature approved the money. Bush did not respond to requests for an interview for this article.

The state took possession of Gables Under the Sea on July 28 (2006), ensuring the preservation of the sea grass beds off Lugo Avenue. More than four years after signing a contract to buy the lots, Sands and Robinson finally pulled a $7.2 million fortune from Biscayne Bay."

Yes, it really happened.

Now back to 2005 to learn more about what Carl Hiaasen called A Paradise of Scandals. And the man who really did sleep with two alligators until a judge ruled against him. I believe this was on 60 Minutes.

Florida: 'A Paradise Of Scandals'

Whether he's writing fiction or journalism, Carl Hiaasen's main character is always Florida, that axis of weirdness that gave us the sagas of Elian Gonzales, and dimpled "chads." It's also where developers build homes around gravel pits advertised as "lakefront property," and where marijuana falls out of the sky. This is how Hiaasen describes Florida: "The Sunshine State is a paradise of scandals teeming with drifters, deadbeats, and misfits drawn here by some dark primordial calling like demented trout. And you'd be surprised how many of them decide to run for public office."

After nearly 30 years at the Miami Herald, Hiaasen is the franchise player, an old-time columnist in the tradition of Mike Royko in Chicago, or Jimmy Breslin in New York -- as much a part of the South Florida landscape as palm trees and pelicans.

....""The court had ruled it 'Gators In Bed is Bad Idea,'" says Hiaasen, referring to one clipping. "This was a story about a guy who was sleeping with two full-grown alligators. And a court ruled that he had no constitutional right to sleep with an endangered reptile. And that happened in Florida."

"Was he sleeping with them?" asks Kroft. "Yes," says Hiaasen.

"In what way?" asks Kroft. "In the way that you're suggesting with your eyebrows," says Hiaasen.

Lucky for us, about two minutes of the 60 Minutes video is still up at the link. What a great interview from 2005.

Here's the direct link to the 60 Minutes video clip.

Love it.

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