The Miami Herald from Miami, Florida on November 21, 1993 · 844
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The Miami Herald from Miami, Florida · 844

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Miami, Florida
Issue Date:
Sunday, November 21, 1993
Page:
844
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SUNDAY NOVEMBER 21 1993 K 0jc ilfianu Herald ByLORIROZSA Herald Staff Writer In the Wildlife Alert files of the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission the case of the bludgeoned pelicans stands out Witnesses saw the bodies — bloodied birds 38 of them — floating in the water off Daytona Peach Game officers investigated Necropsies determined that the pelicans died of blunt trauma to the head and neck But other than the feathered corpus delicti there were no clues That’s when the Wildlife Alert hotline kicked in A man with a ! TIM NiCKENS TALK OF TALLAHASSEE Nominating process fuels PSC debate Diane Kiesling should be favored to win an appointment to the Florida Public Service Commission which determines how much you pay for electricity and telephone service She is a lawyer a state hearing officer who presides over disputes involving utility projects She appears better qualified than virtually any of the other six finalists for two vacancies on the PSC She doesn’t have a prayer Kiesling is a victim of politics She won’t even be interviewed by Gov Lawton Chiles for the $92727-a-year jobs before he makes the appointments later this month A nominating council appointed by legislative leaders and members of the nominating council itself met in September and sent Chiles four candidates for two PSC seats The list included Kiesling but not PSC member Luis Lauredo of Key Biscayne Chiles who had indicated he would reappoint Lauredo to his seat insisted that the council send him more names The council recommended three more names including Lauredo’s But it divided the candidates into two separate slates for the two seats Kiesling was arbitrarily placed on the second list that included Lauredo and the other new names killing her chances “I am extremely disillusioned with the process” Kiesling says So is Chiles who will propose the Legislature change the way PSC members are appointed next spring “There is no accountability and responsibility in the way it’s done now” he says One notable defender of the current system: Miami businessman Andy Blank chairman of the nominating council “There is nothing wrong with it” he says “The track record since I’ve been there has been a good one” Blank is accused of manipulating the nomination process He is a friend of Miami cruise ship executive David Deutch who was nominated for the open PSC seat and does not have to compete against Lauredo and Kiesling Deutch’s brother-in-law is businessman Louis Wolfson III who describes Blank as a “lifelong friend” It gets worse Another candidate for the open PSC seat is Ronald Bruce a Pensacola banker supported by House Speaker Bo Johnson Blank employs Johnson’s wife and Johnson has received two business loans from Bruce’s bank The nominating council headed by Blank improved prospects that Deutch or Bruce will be appointed to the PSC by isolating them — along with former Lakeland legislator Tom Mims of Lakeland — as candidates for the open PSC seat Those grouped with Lauredo are dead “We have slates purposely designed it would seem to yield a preordained result” said Tom Herndon the governor’s chief of staff and a former PSC member Blank says Chiles wants to change the nominating process to increase his own power Chiles doesn’t deny it He complains the governor is forced to select PSC members from lists of candidates he can’t control then gets credit or blame for how they perform video camera had heard about the bird deaths He was in a fish house when he saw a commercial fisherman pummeling a pelican with a broomstick He got it all on film and called the toll-free Wildlife Alert hotline The fisherman was charged with taking a protected species The cameraman got a $1000 reward That was in April No bludgeoned pelicans have turned up since It was one of the more vexing cases faced by wildlife officers Without the alert they say they might never have cracked it SAD MEMORIES: Susan Billig looks at clippings about her daughter Dying mom still By DAVID KIDWELL Herald Staff Writer It has been two decades since Susan Billig first promised she’d go to her grave before giving up the search for her missing daughter She’s keeping her promise The disappearance of 17-year-old Amy Billig from a Coconut Grove sidewalk on March 4 1974 has led the mother on a 20-year odyssey of of hopes soared by ransom demands only to be shattered by the arrests of Amy Billig con men? 0f suitcases packed to follow new leads only to be followed by the silent and dejected trip home She’s trudged through topless bars in Tulsa Okla She’s eaten Thanksgiving turkey with a gang of Outlaws bikers in Seattle She’s sifted abandoned campsites for strands of hair She’s stared through prison glass into the eyes of tattooed ruffians claiming to have once “owned” her teenage daughter In March she heard her husband say “don’t forget Amy” just before he died All this she says somehow makes her own lung cancer Hillary Clinton chats with kids about LAKE BUENA VISTA — (AP) — The talk was about guns drugs and violence Elementary schoolchildren shared their experiences — and some of their hopes and fears — Saturday in an up-close chat with Hillary Rodham Clinton Injecting a serious note into a weekend of fun for 6500 needy children at Walt Disney World a televised Children’s Forum was designed to draw attention to the problems of young people and broken families tii'liHiUHiMHi Here are the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission's toll-free Wildlife Alert hotline numbers: H Gulf Coast and inland counties from Pasco County south — (800)282-8002 Indian River County south In the 14 years that the state’s Wildlife Alert has been operating 13000 people have been arrested for wildlife and environ seem trivial Susan Billig is dying “I suffered a bigger death losing her than I ever could with this cancer” Billig said leafing through a huge scrapbook of news stories that trickled to near nothing after five or six years “They told me a year and a half ago I had four months to live “All I want is to hug my daughter before I go” She’s turned her hopes to television The popular series Unsolved Mysteries is in town today to film Susan Billig’s story “It’s probably my last hurrah” she said “I’ve got to make it count” If she’s alive Amy Billig is 37 years old Her mother doesn’t know whether she’s still a vegetarian Or whether she still enjoys the flute and piano She wonders if her daughter has lost her love for animals or for poetry “Every time I fly somewhere on a tip I get a judge to sign a Baker Act” Billig said explaining how she’ll likely need a court order to have her “brainwashed” daughter committed “To me I still have a 17-year-old girl out there somewhere “But I know the girl who went away is a woman now” Billig said “She’s been away now longer than we had her” Police have long since closed the case even if they haven’t “I think we should put all the guns in one room and lock it Let the police have them” said 1 1-year-old Jimmy Capps of Wichita Kan Michelle Gibson 10 of Richmond Va told the first lady about some neighbors who “use drugs a lot” and neglect their kids “I’m worried about what I see and hear when I travel around the country” Clinton told the group of children selected to take part in the forum at Epcot Cen to the Keys (800)432-2046 B Central Florida (800) 342-9620 B Northeast Florida (800) 342-8105 B Northwest Florida (800)342-1676 mental violations and $200000 in rewards has been handed out In the first six months of this year 608 people were arrested PETER ANDREW BOSCH Miami Herald Staff Amy who was abducted in 1974 seeks daughter abandoned Susan Billig Many of the original investigators are retired Many still keep in touch with Susan maybe an occasional phone call an infrequent lunch “The strongest evidence Amy is alive is her mother’s attitude” said Special Agent Harold Phipps of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Phipps has been on the case for 13 years “She knows the case is closed” Phipps said “But you have to admire someone so tenacious It’s kind of hard not to help her If anyone can ever prove to her that Amy is dead I really think she’ll be OK But I’m not going to be the one to take away her hope” The mother’s evidence is circumstantial First word came five days after Amy’s disappearance It was an anonymous telephone call from a woman claiming to belong to the motorcycle gang called the Outlaws She said Amy was with them Then came the convenience store clerk outside Kissimmee who said he saw Amy with a couple of bikers She came in didn’t say a word and bought a can of vegetarian soup Another call from a former biker who described a body scar Then came the stories of the rapes prostitution and slave trading “I know that if she’s alive she’s in very bad shape” Billig ter’s American Adventure pavilion “How have we gotten to a point when kids are worried about guns and drugs rather than arithmetic?” she asked forum moderator Bryant Gumbel “These youngsters today have adult worries” he agreed The answers are family responsibility community support and creative government programs Clinton said echoing comments made earlier by Health and after hotline tips Only 20 percent of the callers ask for rewards said Kyle Hill an inspector with the commission’s law enforcement office “Most people are just doing it because they’re good conservation stewards and they’re interested in seeing violators get caught” Hill said Callers are guaranteed anonymity Those who ask for the rewards but are reluctant to give their names are given a code word When it comes time to collect they’ll call in and a game officer will meet them at a pre said “It’s horrible to think about it” Novelist Edna Buchanan who dogged the story for a decade as a police reporter for The Miami Herald said Amy Billig’s disappearance became “one of the most haunting mysteries of my career” “You know common sense tells you that Amy was probably dead the same day she disappeared that it’s unbelievable to think she couldn’t get to a phone m 20 years” Buchanan said “But after you talk to Sue for a while you come away thinking this woman is out there somewhere” “I’ve always feared Sue would die not knowing” Buchanan said “I’d really like to write the final chapter on this one” Ned Billig a heavy smoker died in May of lung cancer Susan Billig has undergone two lung surgeries “They tell me I’m in remission” she said “They say it never goes away” In her modest home Billig enthusiastically displays her wall of photographs of Amy and her scrapbook of news clips She still plunges head on into the most skeptical questions then adeptly deflects tears by changing the subject “Don’t worry I won’t start crying” she said “I don’t cry in front of other people any more” Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala Children’s Defense Fund founder Marian Wright Edelman and other children’s rights advocates From Epcot Clinton went to the Magic Kingdom and walked arm in arm with Mickey Mouse and Disney Chairman Michael Eisner to the Hall of Presidents She and Mickey received the cheers of the kids and crowds of paying guests At the attraction she and her arranged place — all in secret “There are some communities where it might not be a good idea to have it be common knowledge that somebody told on somebody” said Manley Fuller of the Florida Wildlife Federation Fuller’s group helped start the hotline in 1979 The federation and other environmental and conservation groups donate to the reward fund which usually contains about $90000 A lot of the money in the fund comes from wildlife violators who are ordered to pay fines for their crimes Better Business Bureau under fire By PHIL LONG Herald Staff Writer ORLANDO — Complaints are coming in about the business of the local Better Business Bureau: B Its former acting president says she and another woman were fired because they are Hispanic B Another worker says he was fired when he sided with the women’s complaints B Another worker says she was told to falsify typing tests for Hispanic jobseekers B Workers say they were ordered not to chitchat in Spanish and two were reprimanded for it B Even a board member has joined the fray saying that he believes workers were discriminated against Better Business Bureau leaders deny the allegations “We have reviewed all this with our attorney and we are in a position where we feel we will come out the better on this” said Thomas Hankins the bureau’s new president He refused to comment further The allegations stem from more than a year of office turmoil at the 3500-member organization that handles about 350000 calls and 8000 consumer complaints a year in nine Central Florida counties The charges were initiated by Marti Jasper 52 a native of Puerto Rico For the last two years she was the vice president and second-in-command at the bureau except for a stint as interim president Twice she applied for promotion to the top spot and twice she was rejected “I couldn’t crack the good-ol’-boy network” she said She first applied in 1992 but a man was appointed three months later He lasted only nine months She was appointed interim president and applied again for the job full time Again she lost out Hankins won One board member says she lost out because she is a woman “I was told by one director that what we were looking for was a ‘light-haired Anglo-Saxon male’ ” said Jack White vice president of an Orlando-based telephone communications company “I was told flat out that she was not being seriously considered as a candidate but she was not to be told ‘because if we tell her the PLEASESEE COMPLAINTS 11B violence party were given a private showing of a pageant depicting the nation’s founding The featured characters are lifelike electronic figures of the country’s presidents And the latest addition is a talking moving Bill Clinton “I love it I thought it was very well done” the first lady said of the performance “It was a little eerie I have to tell you I had children in front of me arguing about whether they were real or not” a ILUB r i a £ imnwi m

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