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By ERNEST HOOPER
© St. Petersburg Times, published June 3, 2001
The first time I heard Assistant U.S. Attorney Ken Lawson argue a case was 20 years ago.
We were just wide-eyed teens at a minority recruitment program, but he left an impression as the debate raged on in a University of Florida dorm room lounge.
Now Lawson has applied to become the next U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Florida (Gainesville, Tallahassee and Pensacola).
While much of this area's attention has been focused on who will get the U.S. attorney post for the Middle District in Tampa, Ken has quietly gone about building support in an effort to return to his home arena. He grew up in Gainesville and earned his degrees from Florida State University before serving as a judge advocate in the U.S. Marine Corps.
He has been in the U.S. attorney's Tampa office since 1994, and during his tenure he became the first black president of the Federal Bar's Tampa Bay chapter.
I've got my fingers crossed for Ken. In my opinion, albeit biased, he's qualified, capable and deserving.
Plus, I need all the friends in high places I can get.
Southwest Florida restaurateur Michael Hernandez was in Tampa Friday reviewing plans for his latest project: a new Hyde Park Village bistro set to open in the fall.
Details are still being formed, but Hernandez is developing a new concept for the space once occupied by Selena's. His Bistro 41 in Fort Myers and Aqua Grill in Naples have both played to good reviews.
Hope Hernandez realizes he's got some big kitchen space to fill. Selena's was a 20-year institution before closing in 1998.
An informal Hoop survey reveals people in Tampa do believe the bare-chested model seen on all those Cabana Boy Rum billboards is an attempt to appeal to gay men.
The ad agency, Swardlick Marketing, initially insisted the campaign is targeted at women, but I couldn't find one man or woman, straight or gay, who didn't think the ads were targeted at a different audience.
The funny thing is that perception has consumed the original intent. Cabana Boy Rum ads have been placed in South Florida's alternative Outlook magazine, and the rum was the featured drink during a recent gay night at the Garage club in Tampa.
You would think it would be fairly easy to find a University of South Florida football jersey in the University Square Mall, but a gift search on Friday proved fruitless, and the campus bookstore said it was out until at least July.
I did, however, find jerseys from Indiana, Maryland and Nebraska, plus so much North Carolina paraphernalia I thought I was in Chapel Hill.
It's a seemingly minor factor in the development of a Division I program, but to truly wear the "big time" label your merchandise should be available in the shadow of your campus.
The Bulls have taken one big step, however. For the first time the football team will be included on college football video games this fall. Now that's progress.
- Ernest Hooper can be reached at (813) 226-3406 or Hooper@sptimes.com. His column appears on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.