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The week in review


© St. Petersburg Times, published March 3, 2002

Indian group again aims at Chasco fest

Indian group again aims at Chasco fest

NEW PORT RICHEY -- Maybe seven times will be the charm, because so far protests that a popular Pasco festival features stereotypical and racist images of Indians has done little to stop the party.

For the seventh straight year, the American Indian Movement of Florida plans to protest the Chasco Fiesta, which is in its 80th year and runs Thursday through March 17.

"They say it's tradition. I say so is slavery," Ruby Beaulieu, AIM's Pasco director, said of the way that American Indians are portrayed at the fiesta. "At some point, let's get into the 21st century and get rid of this tradition."

Joe Alpine, president of the West Pasco Chamber, which organizes the festival as a charity fundraiser, defended the festival.

"We're not trying to demean anyone," he said. "That is part of our heritage here in our community and we are continuing with our pageant."

The theme, he noted, is "Proud to be an American."

"No matter what your lineage is, we are all Americans, and that's our stand on this," he said.

Major leaguer steps up to the plate for high school team

TAMPA -- Assistant high school coach Wade Boggs? That's his title now that the celebrated athlete has a personal stake in the Wharton High School team, where his 15-year-old son Brett plays.

Ron Brown is entering his third year as Wharton's head coach. When Brett was picked for varsity, Boggs told Brown he'd like to help out. He didn't need to ask twice.

"I'm learning baseball every day," said Brown, a Jesuit graduate who reached the Triple-A level in his playing days. "I'm just thrilled to have him out here."

"You definitely get the feeling he's studied the whole game. He's brought an aspect to our team . . . the kids really want to perform for him."

They have a hard act to follow. Boggs remains the only major-leaguer to smack a home run for his 3,000th hit. He did it as a Devil Ray in August 1999. He retired soon afterward and is considered a virtual lock for the Hall of Fame in 2004.

Turning hospital into VA clinic looks like an uphill fight

BROOKSVILLE -- Changing Brooksville Regional Hospital's current building into a clinic for local veterans seems like a good idea to state Sen. Ginny Brown-Waite and Florida Department of Veterans' Affairs executive director Jennifer Carroll.

But that doesn't mean it's going anywhere, veterans have been told.

Local veterans seeking health care have so overwhelmed the department's local satellite clinic at PineBrook Regional Medical Center that no new patients are being accepted.

Plus, Brooksville Regional Hospital's current building may soon be vacant.

Carroll said she plans to keep pushing for a new clinic at the Brooksville Regional Hospital site even though she has been told it's not on the agency's radar screen.

"Nothing in government works overnight," said Carroll, who spent 20 years in the Navy. "What I start the ball rolling on now, I may not see the fruition in my tenure. But you have got to keep plugging away."

Sports groups starved for fields look to the woods

EAST LAKE -- Some environmentalists are calling a foul on a proposal to put ballfields in the Brooker Creek Preserve.

More than 2,000 children participate in baseball, football and soccer leagues and in cheerleading at the East Lake Youth Sports Complex, which is stretched beyond its capacity.

But a recent proposal by a local sports association to acquire land from the Brooker Creek Preserve for new facilities is drawing fire.

"We feel that the camel is getting its nose into the tent," said Ken Rowe, president of the Friends of the Brooker Creek Preserve, a fundraising and advocacy group. "It's 25 acres now and 25 acres sometime down the road and before you know it, the preserve is gone."

Utilities director Pick Talley likes the idea of leasing the property to the sports association and said the issue would appear on the County Commission's agenda in the near future.

Slain officer's partner is denied pension benefits

TAMPA -- After hours of emotional testimony, it took a city pension board only minutes Tuesday to deny Mickie Mashburn the pension benefits of slain Tampa police Officer Lois Marrero, her longtime domestic partner.

The 7-1 vote capped a long afternoon that brought some onlookers to tears but prompted at least one board member to fall asleep.

"The lack of discussion (by the board) was mind-boggling," said Karen Doering, Mashburn's attorney.

The hearing was an appeal of an Aug. 28 decision by the firefighter and police pension board, which unanimously rejected Mashburn's application for Marrero's pension death benefits. Marrero, a Tampa police officer killed by a fleeing bank robber in July, did not leave a will.

Mashburn was seeking a $28,000 a year benefit paid to a surviving spouse.

With no surviving spouse, any contributions Marrero made to the pension would go to the estate, in this case, Marrero's parents.

A family friend noted that Marrero had three opportunities to name Mashburn as a beneficiary: two life insurance policies and her deferred compensation plan. But she named her mother in all three.

In short ...

TAMPA -- The show can go on at Voyeur Dorm, the home where 31 cameras broadcast the semiclad lives of five young women over the Internet. The U.S. Supreme Court announced Monday it would not consider an appeal from Tampa city officials who wanted to use zoning laws to shut down the business. An appellate court had ruled that local zoning laws don't apply to "virtual space" on the Internet.

OLDSMAR -- Nielsen Media Research plans to nearly double its Pinellas County work force by adding 600 jobs, many of them high wage and high tech, to the corporate campus it plans to build in Oldsmar. The company plans to move 700 workers from its Dunedin headquarters and other satellite offices to 39 acres in Oldsmar's Brooker Creek Business Park. Over the next five years, it would hire 600 more people in production and high-tech jobs.

Coming up this week

Two of Salvador Dali's most famous works that feature melting watches will be displayed together for the first time at St. Petersburg's Salvador Dali Museum starting Friday. The Museum of Modern Art in New York City, owner of The Persistence of Memory, has agreed to lend its painting to the Dali museum, which owns The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory. The showing runs through June 8.

Janet Reno's "red truck tour" of Florida hits the Tampa Bay area Friday and Saturday. Reno, the 63-year-old former U.S. attorney general, began a 15-day tour Tuesday stumping for her gubernatorial race from the Alabama state line to Miami in her trademark red Ford Ranger pickup truck.

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