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 Class Action Cowboys: Darren Blum filed his first-ever class-action suit only a few days after he heard the reports about the sometimes-lethal combination of Ford Broncos and Bridgestone/Firestone tires. Once a Wall Street pit broker, Blum was graduated from law school only a few years before. He’d waited since then for his shot at the big score and this was it. Blum’s not alone. South Florida is class action’s wild frontier because lawyers believe juries are class-action friendly here because of the region’s large minority and New Deal Democrat populations and because big business is largely absent. Reporter Kay chanced upon Blum and proposed this enterpriser, which I edited.


Hidden Beacon: It’s been a couple of decades since planners first proposed the notion that government and business could pool resources to spur economic development. The resulting “public-private partnerships” sprouted nationwide, offering tax-supported enticements to lure new business to a region and to make sure existing businesses don’t leave. But the partnerships rapidly became sacred cows and no one really asked whether they do what they say they do. “Hidden Beacon,” is one installment of a four-part series on public-private partnerships in three counties and statewide that found it’s real hard to tell how well they perform because the organizations aren’t accountable. I proposed the series and saw it through to publication.


Terror's Aftermath: The first anniversary of 9-11 loomed near and I joined millions of others still struggling to understand that day’s terrible events. My clearest memories of that day a year before are these: Intense frustration that I was in South Florida instead of reporting at Ground Zero. And the succinct analysis put forth by my then-four-year-old daughter Jolie: “We can’t let the bad guys win, Daddy.”  I realized that I could follow Jolie’s lead by making sure I was in an airplane at the moment the World Trade Center was hit a year earlier. I would have taken Continental Flight 1000 even had I not written a word about the trip. But I did, arriving in New Jersey at 10:30 a.m. and filing this story less than four hours later.

Plane Slams into Home; Two Killed: Word that a small plane had crashed came early on a Friday evening, about 90 minutes before deadline and just as the last few reporters trickled out of the newsroom for the weekend. We learned a few minutes later that the aircraft had gone down in a crowded development a mile or so from the small airport from which it took off. We quickly deployed three reporters, one on her first week at The Herald and assigned three others to make calls and research previous incidents at the airport. I took their feeds, sent them after additional information and crafted a front-page story, making deadline easily.
Off-Duty Jobs Prove Lucrative for Hollywood Police Officers: This was the tip: Hollywood, Florida, police officers were abusing the program through which they earned extra money by working in uniform but off duty at banks, construction sites, clubs and the like. The tip appeared to be accurate. So, I obtained a year’s worth of the hand-written sheets police used to track off-duty jobs and sent them to a data house for keyboarding. The subsequent analysis found a system out of control. Police administrators put a new one into place within weeks of the story I did with reporter Corey Dade. How I did the analysis.

Icon at the Mike: Rick Shaw plays the music that accompanied a generation through life. Shaw has been spinning disks in South Florida for more than 40 years. No DJ’s worked longer in a single radio market save one — New York’s legendary Cousin Brucie Morrow. And about every five years some reporter is asked to do a profile. Most are clip jobs, recycling the same tired anecdotes written up the previous time around. The challenge here was to do something different. I hung out with Shaw as his day began just before dawn. I visited him at home to get a better sense of his sensibilities. I talked with friends and associates .No story ever portrayed Shaw more completely.

For a Generation, a Bond Grew with the Music and the Man: I admit it. I’m a Grateful Dead fan. And for several years I’d had in mind a story about “establishment Deadheads,” folks like myself who hold down respectable jobs, have mortgages and families, but joined the caravan following the band whenever they could. I never wrote that story. When Jerry Garcia died I decided to do the next best thing -- to tell readers who might not understand the Grateful Dead’s music or its legendary followers why folks like me and my friends got so caught up in this musical and cultural phenomenon.





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