Talk of the bay: Airline tempts Chicagoans to flock to Florida

By Times staff and wires
Published March 1, 2007

Chicagoans awoke Wednesday to temperatures hovering near freezing and 10,000 pink plastic lawn flamingos. AirTran Airways decorated downtown with flamingos - 4,000 down the median of Michigan Avenue alone -to tempt natives to fly to Florida. Hidden among pink flamingos was Sonny, a teal-colored bird worth nine free flights to Florida. The airline's Web site offered clues to find Sonny, but no one had claimed the prize as of midday. Perhaps people just weren't motivated with warmer weather forecast for today: highs in the mid to upper 40s, with thunderstorms.

Pearlman's ploy hit locals the hardest

The Tampa Bay area was the richest source of cash for Lou Pearlman's Ponzi scheme, according to an analysis by Jerry McHale, court-appointed receiver for the corporate ruins of Pearlman's Orlando entertainment empire. Nearly 800 of the 1,800 ill-fated investors came from the Tampa Bay area. They put up $78-million of the $317-million collected. In Pinellas and Hillsborough counties alone, 651 investors gave Pearlman and his companies $65.7-million, an average of $100,942 apiece.

Syniverse shares take a drubbing

Plummeting shares and analysts' scorn greeted Tampa-based Syniverse Holdings Inc. a day after the company posted disappointing results and a flat forecast for 2007. The network-services company took a 19.5 percent hit on its shares Wednesday, dropping its stock price to $11.30, a 52-week low. Syniverse on Tuesday reported fourth-quarter profits of 20 cents a share. Analysts were expecting 24 cents.

Trump dumped from casino plans

Donald wasn't Diamondhead Casino Corp.'s Trump card after all. The Madeira Beach-based owner of 404 acres near Biloxi, Miss., said its previously announced partnership with Trump Entertainment Resorts has folded. Diamondhead president Deborah Vitale said the company is pursuing other partners to build a casino resort on 2 miles fronting Interstate 10 and the Bay of St. Louis. Diamondhead's profile rose when the Mississippi Legislature dropped its ban on landside casinos after Hurricane Katrina.