Tampa Bay Times from St. Petersburg, Florida on October 13, 1992 · 13
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Tampa Bay Times from St. Petersburg, Florida · 13

St. Petersburg, Florida
Issue Date:
Tuesday, October 13, 1992
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u cy TIMES section fgl TUESDAY, OCTOBER 13, 1992 Perot's 'plain talk' rejuvenates interest The presidential candidate was anything but a third wheel at Sunday's debate, his bay area supporters say. By JENNIFER ORSI Timt8tftWttCr Ross Perot, his supporters say, gained ground in Sunday's debate. Ross Perot charmed and disarmed in the first presidential debate Sunday night, and his bay area volunteers said they basked in the results Monday morning. "Our phone has been ringing off the hook since I walked in here at 8:15," said Ralph Winters, Perot's regional coordinator, who works out of an office on Starkey Road in Largo. Local Perot supporters said they received an increase in phone calls and visitors Monday in response to their candidate's debate performance, which even earned praise for its plain talk from President Bush and challenger Bill Clinton. "I'm elated with what's happened," said Robert A. Foster Sr., spokesman for Perot in Hillsborough County. "The exposure let other people meet Perot." Foster said his office on Kennedy Boulevard ran out of yard signs Monday, but is ordering more. Volunteers say they're hearing from some people who were disillusioned when Perot dropped out of the race in July. "A lot of the original volunteers are calling in," said volunteer Sheri Harrison, 46, who described herself as "between jobs." "They're coming home in droves," said Jack Osendott, a 66-year-old truck driver who's taking X? 'J : " ft I I'.'. n'f m it'i im i .i.M.inn i.iini i ii in- in i b" ' ' -i Miir1i itf-'i Timet photo FRED VICTORIN Sheri Harrison, left, sells a pro-Perot T-shirt to Angela Cody of St. Petersburg at campaign headquarters in Largo on Monday. time off to work for Perot. The morning was busy at the phone calls came in during one 45-minute period, and three people dropped by the office one of Largo office, volunteers said, but r, . , , . . . . n ... ' j . i whom said he just wanted a Perot calm around 2 p.m. Only a few Please see PEROT 5B Columbus Day protests on both sides of the bay I 7 1 'd. 1 1- I rem TV larr i 1 ?i Tlm photo ADRIAN OENNIS Timet photo JIM STEM Members of American Indian organizations, above, march in protest Monday in Tampa during a Knights of Columbus and Sons of Italy Columbus Day celebration at a statue honoring the Spanish explorer. Joseph Strongbear, left, a Mohawk Indian, takes down nooses from in front of the Columbus statue near The Pier in St. Petersburg. The nooses represented the hanging of Indians by Columbus, protesters said. Story, 3B Center helping storm victims recover By SABRINA MILLER Timti 8taH Writer LARGO Harry Reeves lost his home and job in the Oct. 3 tornado. He received temporary housing and clothing from the Red Cross, but the former part-time mechanic was unsure of future employment. Reeves went for help to the joint information center opened Monday by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. There he found representatives from the Internal Revenue Service, Department of Veterans Affairs, Social Security, the Small Business Administration and unemployment officials. "It's kind of up in the air right now," Reeves said, after speaking with a representative from Florida Department of Labor and Unemployment. "I'm hoping they can help me, because if they can't, there's a possibility I might have to go back home to New Jersey." FEMA primarily will assist people with uninsured losses from the tornado, said spokesman Jay Eaker, but other services are available. The center is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. until Friday at the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services, 11351 Ulmerton Road. "This is not designed to take the place of insurance, but it will assist people with loans and grants for off stoirinn) detectors DDDteDDSOffDeS Still guilt ridden by the Skyway Bridge collision, harbor pilot John Lerro joins others calling for faster upgrades of weather service equipment. By CHARLOTTE SUTTON Timet Star! Writer long-term recovery," Eaker said. Storm victims without insurance are eligible to receive low interest loans up to $20,000 to replace personal property, $100,000 for home damage and $500,000 for a business. They also can receive emergency rent, grants, unemployment benefits, tax relief and crisis counseling from FEMA. By 2:30 p.m. Monday, 36 people had stopped by the center. They were asked what losses they incurred, then directed to a counselor, Eaker said. Depending on the assessment, temporary housing is found and business checks are issued within one Please see STORM 5B ST. PETERSBURG The harbor pilot whose ship rammed into the old Skyway Bridge during an unpre-dicted storm says the radar that's supposed to protect Tampa Bay weather is so poor he "wouldn't use (it) to navigate a rubber ducky." John Lerro said Monday that the radar that failed to detect the 1980 storm also failed to alert Pinellas residents to the Oct. 3 tornadoes that killed four and caused more than $30-million damage. Lerro joined Hillsborough County Commissioner Jan Piatt in urging the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council to press for a new Doppler radar system. The bay area ranks so low on the list of sites due to get Doppler 113th of 176 the system isn't scheduled to arrive until February 1995. "I'm here to say, 'Hey, move us up. We've had all these deaths,' " Lerro said after the meeting. Lerro spoke to the planning council moments before it unanimously approved a resolution asking that the Ruskin weather station be moved up in the weather service's modernization plans. Ruskin's 1957-vintage system runs on vacuum tubes, much like old television sets, and lacks Doppler radar's ability to detect wind speed and direction. Lerro was piloting the Summit Venture when it rammed into the Skyway, killing 35. The accident occurred during a heavy thunderstorm that was not preceded by a warning from the weather service. "I hit the Skyway Bridge at 7:34 ... the weather warning was issued at 8:15," he said. "So much for Ruskin's precision." Although Lerro was cleared of negligence, his feelings of guilt over the deaths nearly drove him to suicide. He later turned those feelings around and became a counselor for a suicide hotline. Lerro, 50, has multiple sclerosis, which has worsened over the past few years. He uses a cane and walks with difficulty. He can no longer work, but feels so strongly about the need for Doppler radar he made the trip from his Tampa home to St. Petersburg to support Piatt's resolution. Piatt is among several politicians who have been trying to speed up the timetable for bringing Doppler to the bay area. A similar resolution was passed by the planning council last year (Lerro spoke at that meeting, too). Piatt renewed the call after the Pinellas tornadoes showed that the Doppler radar system in Melbourne is too far away to protect Tampa Bay, despite weather service claims. No warning was issued before the tornadoes struck. "You see the things the federal government spends money on . . . and there are no excuses," Piatt said. "Four people have died since we asked for that system (last year) ... and 300 were injured. Even if Please see CRITICISM 5B John Lerro says warnings came too late to prevent the Skyway Bridge collision. Lawton's not walking he's just getting his furniture By LUCY MORGAN Timet Start Writer TALLAHASSEE Gov. Lawton Chiles, amid much laughter, said Monday he is not resigning. A moving van outside the governor's mansion in Tallahassee apparently sparked rumors that were sweeping the town Monday. Contacted at his mountain retreat in North Carolina, Chiles burst out laughing when told about the report. "I take four days off in two years and a rumor like this starts," joked Chiles. "Can you tell me where I'm supposed to be going? I can't stand it. I am not resigning." Julie Anbender, the governor's press secretary, said she got several calls Monday asking about the governor's plan to leave office. She ; thinks the rumor started after a moving van ; pulled up at the mansion to drop off some furniture that had been in a house in Gadsden County that Chiles recently sold. Lt. Gov. Buddy MacKay, contacted in Miami , where he was attending a meeting, also discounted the rumor, saying Chiles has been in good spirits and looking forward to a few days off. Chiles will return to Florida today after spending a few days at his house in the mountains, where he reported frost and highs around 60 degrees. Elected in 1 990 after he emerged from retirement to seek his party's nomination, Chiles, 62, has yet to announce whether he'll seek re-election in 1994. Friends say they expect he will run. Grant cleared in House check scandal Bill Grant blames his $71,895 in overdrafts on sloppy record keeping. The U.S. Senate candidate hopes his exoneration by special counsel will mean more contributions for his campaign against incumbent Bob Graham. By BILL MOSS Timet Start Writer TALLAHASSEE U.S. Senate candidate Bill Grant has been cleared of criminal wrongdoing in the congressional check-kiting scandal, seven months after he disclosed writing 106 bad checks on the House bank. "It means what I said all along," Grant said Monday while campaigning in Stuart. "I said I had the perfect defense for charges about me overdrafting checks: I didn't do it." Grant said earlier that the House bank posted his deposits late and that bank workers never informed him the institution was covering his overdrafts, which amounted to $71,895. The Republican nominee said the letter from the special counsel investigating the banking scandal could give him a badly needed fund-raising boost in his underdog campaign against Sen. Bob Graham, the Democratic incumbent and former two-term governor. Grant, who served two terms in the House before his defeat in 1990, was named as one of the check writers in the House banking scandal that drove public confidence in Congress to record lows. For the onetime "country banker" from the small North Florida town of Madison, the disclosure was an embarrassment that hurt his fund-raising efforts and caused many Republican Party supporters to spurn his longshot campaign. Please see GRANT 6B TIMES DIGEST Another one bites the dust The 82-year-old Hotel San Carlos, once the Florida Panhandle's premier address, will be demolished in an effort to renew Pensacola's downtown. 4B New way to pay for schools A panel will scrutinize, simplify and improve the state's public school funding formula. 4B Column to resume Mary Jo Melone's column will return soon. Correction Linda Chapin is chairwoman of Orange County. An Associated Press story Monday listed her title incorrectly. Creepy, crawly back-seat crowd It started out as a routine traffic stop. Then things turned to adder chaos. Attodatad Pratt BRONSON You might say R. Kevin Temple's car had a bad rattle. Temple was pulled over in a routine traffic stop. In the back seat deputies found 100 snakes, including 48 rattlers, and a variety of other dangerous creatures. Temple, 35, who listed residences in Pasco County and Tucson, Ariz., was in jail Monday. Levy County Drug Task Force members reported they stopped Temple about 10 p.m. Friday as his car weaved south on U.S. 19. As a dog sniffed the trunk of the car for drugs, Temple said there was something they should know. "He had his pets a live parrot and a few snakes," in the back seat, he told an officer. "An understatement," said the officer. In boxes and bags in the back seat were 48 rattlesnakes, including sidewinders, western diamondbacks, Mo-javes and a black-tail; two poisonous night adders, which have fangs in the back of their mouths; a Gila monster; 45 non-poisonous snakes; 67 scorpions; several tarantulas; a number of small lizards; and a lilac-crowned par rot. The state Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission and U.S. Forest Service were called in to help identify and remove the creatures from the car. Jim Ellis, the Forest Service district law enforcement officer for the Osceola National Forest and a snake expert, identified the rattlesnakes as being from Arizona and Texas. He agreed to keep track of the animals seized from the car until a court decides their fate. Temple was charged with four counts of illegal possession of wildlife and venomous reptiles. He was being held in lieu of $2,500 bail in the Levy County Jail.

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