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Week in review

By Times Staff Writer
Published July 6, 2003

USF NEUROSURGERY CHIEF DIES IN PLANE CRASH: The surgeons who knew David W. Cahill admired his twin talents. Cahill took on the toughest cases of head and spine injuries, winning national respect. As founder and chairman of the neurosurgery department at USF's College of Medicine, he instilled a fierce work ethic in students.

But Cahill also was a pilot, who learned to love flying from his father.

"Pilots refer to good stick and surgeons refer to good hands," said Tampa surgeon Richard Karl, a close friend and fellow pilot. "David Cahill had both."

Cahill, 51, died Wednesday after the twin-engine plane he was flying flipped while landing at Memphis International Airport.

"He was a superb neurosurgeon and a wonderful teacher," said Bob Daugherty, dean of the College of Medicine. "We've lost one of our leaders, someone who exemplified quality in everything he did."

Three other Tampa men were on board the Beechcraft Baron. John Murphy was killed and Ed Brown and Chip Lomell were injured. The men were arriving in Memphis for a business meeting at Medtronic Sofamor Danek, a company that makes implants used in spinal surgery.

Reports from Memphis said the 1981, six-seat Beechcraft Baron landed, then bounced and flipped into the grass.

Cahill, a Virginia native, began working at USF 20 years ago. His wife, Sandra, is a Tampa dentist. Their three children are 21, 20 and 15.

Cahill has been cited in the guidebook The Best Doctors in America and had been published extensively. In 1987, he was among the first to perform an experimental surgery transplanting adrenal cells into the brain of a patient with Parkinson's disease.

ST. LAWRENCE VOLUNTEER GETS PRESIDENTIAL BUSS: He slid his hand around her shoulders. She squeezed his waist slightly and then, something happened that the 81-year-old, great-grandmother didn't expect.

President George W. Bush kissed her on the forehead.

"I haven't washed my face since," Susie Monaco said a day later. "I was so touched."

The White House had specifically called the Hillsborough County Aging Services Department last week looking for an active volunteer Bush might honor during his Monday visit to Tampa.

Names were tossed around. Choosing wasn't easy, said Freddie Hudson, a section manager at Hillsborough County Retired and Senior Volunteer Program, part of Aging Services.

Monaco, a Tampa native, was selected. A retired Hillsborough Community College secretary, she helps coordinate activities - bingo, guest speakers, monthly birthday cakes - for the St. Lawrence Seniors Program held in Higgins Hall on Himes Avenue Tuesdays and Thursdays.

She's been volunteering since the program's inception 13 years ago, some 20 hours a week.

"She's one of our shining stars," Hudson said.

BURGLARY SUSPECTS FALL FROM CEILING: Two people hiding in the crawl space of a Tampa Palms shopping center crashed through the ceiling and onto the floor early Tuesday and were arrested, according to a Tampa police report.

About 3:20 a.m. Tuesday, three Tampa police officers responded to a burglar alarm at the mall.

When an officer walked into Charles Jewelers at 16053 W Tampa Palms Blvd., he saw a man and a woman run to the back of the store. The pair climbed into the ceiling crawl space.

About 10 minutes later, police said, both the man and woman fell through the ceiling and into the China City restaurant.

The woman, Tass True, 33, of Temple Terrace, was taken to Tampa General Hospital, where she was treated for a head injury. George Scott, 41, of Thonotosassa, was not injured.

Both were arrested and charged with burglary, grand theft and possession of burglary tools.

Police said the two broke into the China City restaurant, broke through a wall into City Plaza Travel, then made a hole in another wall to get inside the jewelry store.

Stolen jewelry was recovered, police said.

PALERMO PENSION DISPUTE HEADED TO COURT: For years, Tampa City Attorney Jim Palermo tried to secure a lucrative pension.

His arguments to the pension board failed, as did attempts by his allies to have the Legislature change the pension laws for his benefit.

Now, the controversy is headed to court.

Palermo filed suit against the city earlier this week asking a judge to determine if he qualifies for the pension plan.

Palermo, who left the office in April, could not be reached for comment Wednesday. His lawyer was out of town and also could not be reached.

"Thirty-six years: That is worth something," Palermo told the Times in April. "Obviously there are some people who think it's worth nothing."

Fred Karl, the current city attorney, said the city hired outside lawyers to handle the case to avoid conflicts of interest. He declined to comment further, citing city policy not to publicly discuss pending litigation.

The three-page lawsuit, filed in Hillsborough Circuit Court, outlines a short chronology of Palermo's employment with the city and the basic details of the pension plan.

CLEARING THE AIR: Some griped. Some cried. Some walked out and said they would never be back.

Tuesday, Day 1 of Florida's new ban on smoking at indoor workplaces, brought a range of emotion from customers, merchants, workers and others.

Among the venues affected: the smoking lounges at Tampa International Airport were closed, where people stood clustered on outdoor walkways, puffing away, many of them griping.

Inside, at the the T.G.I. Friday's restaurant at the airport, 44-year-old Linda Steo sounded a similar refrain.

"I think it stinks," said the Spring Hill resident, who smoked in the parking lot before entering the restaurant.

Debbie Cappucci, 46, also of Spring Hill, sat her pack of Dorals on the bar, knowing she couldn't light them inside.

"Even if I didn't smoke, I'd still think it isn't right," she said. "What will they tell me next, that I can't smoke in my own house?"

- The Week in Review is compiled from reports that appeared previously in the Tampa & State section of the Times.

[Last modified July 5, 2003, 08:41:47]

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