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Redner wins $230,000 from Hillsborough

Chalk up another victory for nude dance czar Joe Redner in his fight against local government adult-use ordinances.

A federal jury decided Thursday that Hillsborough County violated Redner's rights with its adult use ordinance. It awarded Redner $230,000 in damages.

Redner opened the Mons II nightclub in Brandon in March 1990, but the county said the club was too close to an existing school. Redner was arrested. He challenged the ordinance in state court and closed the club. Since then, the school and the Mons II are history. Redner sold the property in 1993.

Bob Warchola, an assistant county attorney, said the county was surprised by the verdict and is considering an appeal.


City Council selects new chairman

Before they got to their real task of the day Thursday _ debating the Tampa Convention Center hotel project _ City Council members dealt with some easier business: choosing a new chairman.

Chairman pro tem Ronnie Mason was elected Thursday morning to take over for Joe Greco, who will step down after 3 1/2 years of running council meetings.

"When will you assume your chairmanship, at 1 o'clock today?" joked Perry Harvey, provoking laughter from the council and particularly from Greco, who was anticipating a monster of an afternoon session spent on the hotel project.

But Greco wasn't off the hook: Mason will not assume his new position until Nov. 3.

Several council members used the occasion to praise Greco, known for his patient willingness to give even the most trying of speakers their alloted time.

"I think with such a diverse and strong-willed council and such a lively public, it's sometimes difficult to maintain calm," said council member Linda Saul-Sena. "Mr. Greco is as even-handed, fair and objective, and as good a listener as any chairman I've served under."

In stepping down before his term expired, Greco has said he will focus on problems such as juvenile crime, perhaps as a liaison between the City Council and the School Board.

Mason, a two-term council member and retired fire chief, managed to compliment the council and at the same time acknowledge the difficulties of his new job.

"This is a great council. They sometimes make it tough on the chairman because they do such a great job," Mason said.

Rudy Fernandez was chosen chairman pro tem.


Few leads on parents of Baby Friday

Baby Friday will celebrate his first week of life today but authorities are no closer to finding his parents than they were the day he was born.

With Baby Friday sleeping comfortably at a news conference Thursday, Hillsborough sheriff's officials issued a plea to the parents to come forward to claim their 5-pound, 1-ounce boy.

He was found Oct. 21 on the front lawn of Diana Martinez's house in Ruskin. Clothed in a disposable diaper, the baby was taken to a hospital in good condition. Doctors said he was only hours old and named him Baby Friday.

Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services officials have placed the baby in a foster home, said sheriff's spokeswoman Debbie Carter. Officials have exhausted all leads and are looking to the public for information on the baby's identity.

"We want to make another appeal to the public, the mother of the baby or a friend to come forward," Carter said. "We're looking to reunite the mother with the baby."

The parents could face child abandonment charges, but Carter said officials were interested primarily in reuniting the boy with his family.

The Sheriff's Office has received more than 100 calls from concerned people asking about the child or seeking adoption. All were forwarded to the HRS.

"He's precious now as you look at him," Carter said while holding the sleeping baby in a blue blanket. "He's just the perfect little baby."

Anyone with information about Baby Friday or his parents is asked to call the Sheriff's Office at 247-8201.