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Tampa Bay briefs

By Times staff writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 22, 2000

Tampa delays decision on strip club signs

TAMPA -- Tampa strip clubs will have at least two more weeks before they have to put up signs warning customers about the city's law against lap dancing.

The city attorney's office withdrew the sign proposal Thursday at a City Council meeting attended by strip club owners and nude dancers who spoke against the law.

"We don't want there to be confusion," said Gina Grimes, an assistant city attorney.

Council members agreed to vote on it following another public hearing in two weeks.

A week ago, council members discussed the sign amendment before club owners and dancers arrived. That infuriated Joe Redner, owner of the Mons Venus on Dale Mabry Highway.

Thursday's decision, Redner said, was just another attempt by the city to confuse those opposed to an unconstitutional law.

"I think they're messing with everybody," Redner said. "They're adding to an illegal ordinance. I don't think they know what they're doing."

Next to City Hall on Thursday, a truck was parked with signs claiming the city is overstepping its authority.

"Hey City Council," one sign read. "Don't you realize tyranny is not allowed in America?"

Bush appoints three new Swiftmud members

Gov. Jeb Bush has appointed three new members to the governing board of the Southwest Florida Water Management District. They are:

Heidi B. McCree, 36, of Tampa, an attorney and former executive director of the Hillsborough River Greenways Task Force. Her term ends in 2004. She replaces Brenda Menendez.

Janet D. Kovach, 38, of Riverview, a community affairs specialist for CF Industries and amember of the Alafia River Basin Board. Her term ends in 2002. She replaces Pamela Stinnette-Taylor.

Edward W. Chance, 57, of Palmetto, a former Manatee County commissioner. His term ends in 2001. He replaces John P. Harllee.

The governing board sets policy for the district, known as Swiftmud, which manages water resources in west central Florida.

16-year-old sought in shooting of Tampa man

TAMPA -- A man was shot three to four times Thursday night in his home by a 16-year-old boy who fled, police said.

Vernon Lofton Kitchen, 47, was taken to Tampa General Hospital after being shot about 6 p.m. at 2207 N Ola St. Kitchen still was in surgery late Thursday. He was listed in serious condition.

Meanwhile, police hunted for the suspect, whom they identified as 16-year-old Wesley Craig Kennedy. Police said Kitchen and Kennedy were in an argument inside the older man's home when Kennedy pulled a gun and shot Kitchen.

Kitchen was released from the county jail just three months ago after being charged with possession of cocaine, the same kind of charge that sent him to state prison five years ago.

Kennedy's arrest record was not known because he is a juvenile.

Six-month investigation nets 37 drug suspects

TAMPA -- One juvenile and 36 adults from all walks of life were arrested in Hillsborough County this week, charged with being the couriers in a drug-running scheme that stretched from Tampa to Miami.

Officials said the drug traffickers used cars, vans and commercial airlines to smuggle drugs from the Miami area to Tampa. Heroin and cocaine were sold in the areas around the University of South Florida, Town 'N Country and west Tampa.

The 37 suspects range in age from under 18 to 48. They include a 2000 graduate of Gaither High School, a mother of two young children and a car salesman. Some of the people arrested have been released from jail after posting bail. Others face bail amounts up to $1-million.

And some, such as Muriel Aponte, 22, described as a ringleader, were held without bail.

The task force seized 6 kilograms of cocaine and 1 pound of heroin, which officials said had a street value of $500,000. They also confiscated $91,000 in cash, 15 cars and nine guns.

The arrests followed six months of investigation by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, a group of city, county, state and federal officers.

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