Week in review
By SHARON KENNEDY WYNNE
© St. Petersburg Times, published March 4, 2001
Teen who shot friend shares story
LAND O'LAKES -- Until Tuesday, Steven Moschella had never talked publicly about how he accidentally shot and killed his best friend last year in his high school's parking lot.
With a camera rolling, Moschella fulfilled part of his court-ordered sentence and recounted the nightmare he has lived for the past year, from the moment Teddy Niziol handed him a loaded pistol to the days he spent in the Pasco County Jail with men nicknamed "Trouble" and "Evil."
Sometimes, he said, he sits alone in the dark and talks out loud, pretending Niziol is listening. His mother said she and Moschella's stepfather are getting divorced because of the strain on the family. His mother is losing her house because money for the mortgage has gone instead to pay lawyers and psychologists.
"It's just a nightmare," he said. "I'm still in shock. I still can't believe this happened. It changed my life. I don't have fun anymore."
Authorities hope this portrait of a broken life, which will be the centerpiece of a videotape to be shown in middle and high schools in the fall, will persuade students to stay away from guns.
Voyeur house ignores threat, but dudes' party is crashed
TARPON SPRINGS -- The you're-not-welcome wagon pulled in front of two Internet voyeur locations in the Tampa Bay area last week, with mixed results.
In Tarpon Springs, home of ucanwatch.com, where a dozen women live and take lots of showers as their images are shown on the Internet through live video feeds, the deadline for the site to stop operating passed Monday without any action from the city.
But city officials, who say the company is violating four zoning and adult business ordinances, said they still plan to pursue legal action.
Meanwhile in Tampa, DudeDorm.com, which offers a live look via 33 cameras at "14 hot young college studs," thought it had escaped scrutiny by moving from a Pinellas Park condo, where zoning officials were threatening action, to a compound adjacent to XTC Adult Superstore on Fowler Avenue in Tampa.
But on Wednesday, Tampa police officers and city inspectors ordered the cameras turned off and told the dudes to pack up and get out.
Luke Lirot, the site owner's attorney, said the company will submit an application for an adult-use business for Dude Dorm, even though they contend they don't need one.
"We want to act like gentlemen here," Lirot said. "We're going to comply with their desire in an effort of good faith."
Prayer debate in Citrus schools lifts many voices
HERNANDO -- At a session that at times resembled a tent revival more than a public hearing, the Citrus County School Board found little peace on a divisive issue Tuesday.
The School Board, racked with controversy in recent months, was hearing the public's opinion on two issues: opening board meetings with a prayer and allowing a Christian youth group to meet at a middle school during school hours.
After quietly listening to more than four hours of heartfelt pleas from youngsters and adults, board members didn't debate meetings of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in the Citrus public schools. They didn't fight over references to Christ being removed from board meetings, and they didn't discuss a ban on the Christian faith among public school students and employees.
In the end, the board reiterated that principals will continue to make decisions about club meetings, and the School Board will continue to open meetings with prayer, which brought more applause from the crowd.
Lawmaker experiences U.S. 19 from road level
CLEARWATER -- State Rep. Randy Johnson enjoyed his first ride down the infamous U.S. 19 squeezed into the back seat of a black Volvo driven by a newly elected Clearwater Republican.
The unusual lobbying tactic for Johnson, who is chairman of the House Transportation and Economic Development Appropriations Committee, was a ploy by local officials who hope to score state money to fix U.S. 19 this year -- and Johnson's support is a must.
After some arm-twisting from Rep. Kim Berfield, R-Clearwater, who sits on Johnson's committee, he agreed to see the road for himself from the relatively safe confines of Berfield's sedan.
He survived the 45-minute trip, coming away with a healthy understanding of the highway's hazards as well as some sympathy for local officials who have tried to improve the road.
But the latest figure bandied about to fix the road is $545-million, which would pay for flyovers from St. Petersburg to the Pasco County line. Local officials are seeking $210-million this year from the state.
Johnson responded to the figure -- "Ouch" -- but then promised to do what he could to drive home the importance of improving U.S. 19.
Migration plan for endangered cranes is closer to reality
CHASSAHOWITZKA -- Efforts to establish a migratory flock of whooping cranes in Florida moved a step forward Wednesday when a regulatory board in Wisconsin approved a plan to lead the birds here using an ultralight airplane.
Under the experiment, which was shown to work last fall with sandhill cranes, whooper chicks would be trained at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin and flown to Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge in October.
The hope is that the cranes, of which only 400 remain, would begin to reproduce and migrate between the two locations on their own.
With a new administration under President Bush, there is a possibility the project will be delayed for a year, but it has gained attention from high-profile advocates, including former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson, and new Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton has been receptive.
Ex-Tampa housing official found guilty in bribery scandal
TAMPA -- Audley S. Evans, once a rising star among America's public housing executives, was convicted Thursday of 15 felonies in a bribery and kickback scandal involving the Tampa Housing Authority.
Evans, 48, executive director of the housing authority from 1988 to 1996, was convicted of taking gifts and money in return for steering contracts to favored contractors.
He faces a maximum of 77 years in prison. With the conviction, housing officials say they likely will remove Evans' name from a College Hill youth center named for him in 1994.
"When you get through with all the fancy words for all of the counts, the sad, sad thing is, money intended to help poor people went into other people's pockets," said Tampa Housing Authority Commissioner Fran Davin.
Coming up this week
They are loud, have huge parties and occasional shoving matches. Yes, Daytona Beach's internationally famous Bike Week is next week, but we're talking about the Legislature, which opens for business on Tuesday. Some of the hot topics expected this year are election reform in the wake of Florida's staggering five-week recount in the 2000 presidential race, wholesale changes in the state's growth management laws and tackling the continuing problems with nursing home care.
The spring election season continues with elections in Gulfport, Largo, Seminole and South Pasadena on Tuesday.
- Compiled by Times staff writer Sharon Kennedy Wynne
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