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Commentary, sarcasm and snide remarks from a Florida resident of over thirty years. Being a glutton for punishment is a requirement for residency here. Who am I? I've been called a moonbat by Michelle Malkin, a Right Wing Nut by Daily Kos, and middle of the road by Florida blog State of Sunshine. Tell me what you think.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Florida the rules are different here Chapter LXXIX

Call this story the case of the missing French Fries. Sculpture best described as looking like something that comes with a burger and a drink, was lost for two years and then found thanks to a construction company and Miami-Dade's Art in Public Places office. The fries are disassembled but rusty after being found at a construction site. Now what will happen? I guess ketchup is out of the question. Don't you just love Florida?

Hat tip- Alex at SOTP
Linked to- Basil's Blog, Bright & Early, Bullwinkle,

Solved: The Case of the Vanishing Giant French Fries.

Two years ago, a 31-foot abstract sculpture with a tangle of yellow metal limbs was quietly taken apart and removed from its longtime perch at the South Miami Metrorail station, intended to make room for the proposed Hometown Station office complex. But a search for a new site stalled, and the county-owned artwork, titled Paciencia, became a hostage in a dispute between the county and Hometown Station's developer, Raul Masvidal, as the plan for the office complex fell apart.

Paciencia is now a ''rusted pile of parts'' at a Medley construction yard, according to a memo from Miami-Dade Inspector General Chris Mazzella.

For Masvidal, a well-known civic leader and former banker, this is the second sculpture-related flap in the past three months. His $287,000 purchase of another sculpture -- by artist Julio Larraz, a childhood friend -- has been criticized by county auditors, and it has drawn the interest of prosecutors investigating the Hometown Station deal.

The Hometown Station contractor, Delant Construction, removed the Paciencia sculpture and took it apart without county approval in January 2005, said Ivan Rodriguez, director of Miami-Dade's Art in Public Places office. At the time, his office was trying to find a new location for the sculpture.

''They became impatient and went ahead and took it down,'' Rodriguez said. ``Somebody on my staff who takes Metrorail looked down, and whoop -- it's gone.''

Rodriguez said Masvidal was supposed to pay to relocate the sculpture.

Mazzella also faulted Rodriguez's office, saying the Paciencia sculpture was ''all but forgotten'' until his investigators found the pieces at Delant's storage yard last month. The sculpture, by artist John Henry, could be worth $400,000 to $600,000, based on the prices of Henry's current work, Rodriguez said.

Mazzella said the sculpture has been damaged and called its condition ''disheartening.'' Rodriguez insisted that it can be rebuilt -- though he admitted he's not certain all its parts have been found.

''The piece is not lost,'' he said. ``It's not ruined.''

Paciencia cost the county $32,055 when it was installed in 1982. At the time, it baffled South Miami's mayor and others, inviting comparisons to giant french fries, as has a similar Henry piece on the University of Florida campus in Gainesville.

Rodriguez said his office knew the sculpture was at the construction site, but he conceded that he and his staff did nothing to try to retrieve the artwork for eight months last year. He said the issue fell through the cracks when he was hospitalized for six weeks and a colleague left the office.

He also said his staff never visited the Medley construction site to check the condition of the pieces, or to make sure all were there.

Rodriguez said he continued to rely on Masvidal to move the sculpture -- though problems with getting building permits and relocating other art pieces led to the delays.

''We had a written agreement that says he'll pay for it,'' Rodriguez said. ``We were trying to be amicable about it.''

Masvidal's attorney, George McArdle, said his client agreed to pay as much as $37,500 to relocate the sculpture. He blames the county for failing to find a suitable place to move it.

''It's now stored right where [Masvidal] told them he was going to store it,'' McArdle said.

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