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Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 21, 2002

Public schools chancellor hunt down to two finalists

Public schools chancellor hunt down to two finalists

The Florida Board of Education on Friday announced two finalists for the job of chancellor of the state's public school division.

They are Clifford B. Janey, former superintendent of Rochester, N.Y., schools, and Carmen Varela-Russo, a former Broward County school official who now is the CEO of the Baltimore schools.

Next week, a review team will interview both and make a recommendation to the board, which is to make the final pick Wednesday.

The chancellor will oversee public schools from kindergarten through 12th grade. The state recently appointed a chancellor to oversee the universities and another to guide community colleges.

Board of Education chairman Phil Handy said Friday there were three candidates for the public schools job, but one dropped out in recent days.

Before taking the top job with Baltimore schools in 2000, Varela-Russo was an associate superintendent for Broward County schools overseeing technology, strategic planning and accountability. Janey recently left his Rochester schools position after seven years, in the midst of a financial crisis that saw a budget gap as high as $45-million.

He is a former principal and reading teacher who became known nationally for his work closing the gap in test scores between minority and white students.

Bush appoints Canady to appeals court bench

TALLAHASSEE -- Former U.S. Rep. Charles Canady was appointed Friday to the 2nd District Court of Appeal by Gov. Jeb Bush.

Canady, 48, has been Bush's general counsel since January 2001, after ending eight years in Congress.

The Lakeland Republican replaces Judge Oliver L. Green, who is retiring in November.

"Charles has all the qualities of a great judge: humility, sound judgment and an excellent legal mind," Bush said.

Canady, a Yale law school graduate, is also a former state lawmaker, elected to the Florida House at age 30 in 1984.

Police say man tried to have state worker killed

JACKSONVILLE -- A businessman is charged with trying to arrange the killing of a government employee who halted work at construction sites because of worker insurance problems.

Authorities said Robert A. West Jr., 43, of Neptune Beach, was angry over delays caused by the stop-work orders.

West paid $5,000 last week to have an inspector with the Department of Insurance killed, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. He paid $5,000 more Thursday when told the job was done, agents said. Then he was arrested on a charge of solicitation to commit murder. He is in jail with bail set at $5-million.

It turned out that the "killer" he hired was an undercover officer.

The FDLE has been hiding the inspector, whose name was being withheld, and her family.

Work was stopped at several construction sites because work crews were not properly covered for workers' compensation in case of accidents, FDLE officials said.

Law enforcement officials also said investigators have been looking into money-laundering operations involving numerous contractors, including West.

Socialite who hosted grounded ship's crew dies

PALM BEACH -- Mollie Wilmot, a socialite who became a national celebrity after a freighter ran aground at her mansion, died Tuesday in New York following a long illness. She was 78.

Ms. Wilmot charmed the world after the 197-foot Venezuelan freighter Mercedes I crashed against her seawall on Thanksgiving Day 1984. It remained there 105 days.

The widow of New York publicist Paul Wilmot played the perfect hostess, serving caviar and coffee to the ship's crew and martinis to the media.

Ms. Wilmot was born Mollie Netcher, daughter of a man who made millions from department stores in the Midwest.

Miami pair admit role in national brothel ring

MIAMI -- A Miami madam and her partner admitted Friday to their role in a national syndicate called "the Circuit" that brokered high-priced hookers between Miami, New York, Chicago and other major cities.

Judy Krueger, 59, and Eli Tish, 70, pleaded guilty to a racketeering charge in federal court and face probable prison sentences of one to two years. They ran a brothel out of the Four Ambassadors Hotel on S Brickell Bay Drive.

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