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Mud bog owner creates fine mess for himself

Roy Spiker is in trouble for making mud.

Spiker, owner of Lakeland Drag Strip and Mud Bog on State Road 33, became the first person ever cited for violating the Polk County's water use law.

A sheriff's surveillance camera caught Spiker, 51, using a garden hose and sprinklers to replenish the bog Saturday, sheriff's spokesman Sterling Ivey said.

The owners of four-wheel-drive vehicles pay $8 a night to drive through the deep bog.

Deputies came upon the water violation while conducting an underage drinking sting.

When about 30 patrol cars arrived at the mud bog to nab young drinkers, the garden hose was being used to wash off muddy trucks.

Spiker, who will pay a $35 fine today for violating the water restrictions, said he was "picked on" by the Sheriff's Office.

He also was charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor after 20 people were arrested in the drinking sting.

PSC chairman quits to run

Cuban-American group

MIAMI _ Florida Public Service Commission Chairman Joe Garcia will step down Friday to become executive director of the Cuban American National Foundation.

Garcia, 35, of Miami Beach, the highest-ranking Cuban-American in state government, will become the foundation's youngest and first U.S.-born director, taking over day-to-day operations from Jose "Pepe" Hernandez. Hernandez will continue as president.

The appointment comes in the wake of the Elian Gonzalez custody battle, which led thousands of Cuban-Americans to demonstrate against efforts to return the 6-year-old boy to his father in Cuba. The foundation supports Elian's Miami relatives, who seek to keep the boy in the United States.

Garcia is leaving a $120,000-a-year job regulating and setting policy for the state's electrical, gas, telephone and water services.

Top aide to Thrasher

leaves amid ethics inquiry

TALLAHASSEE _ The chief of staff for Florida House Speaker John Thrasher is stepping down.

Stephen MacNamara's departure comes during an ethics inquiry into allegations that he used his influence to help a cement company reverse a permit denial.

In a complaint filed last month, Gainesville environmental activist Anne Barkdoll argued that MacNamara's work for Suwannee American raised "serious questions about conflict of interest and preferential treatment."

The company was initially denied a permit to build a cement factory about 3.5 miles from the Ichetucknee River. Regulators later agreed to grant the cement plant as part of a deal for Anderson Columbia, a company related to the cement firm, to sell the state a rock mine.

MacNamara signed on to help Suwannee American within days after the state denied permission to build the cement plant. MacNamara worked on contracts as Thrasher's top aide.

McNamara, a tenured faculty member at Florida State University, said he planned to return there to teach in the communications department.

Top U.S. judge, prosecutor

for South Florida resigning

MIAMI _ South Florida's top federal judge and federal prosecutor said Tuesday they will resign.

Chief U.S. District Judge Edward B. Davis' resignation is effective July 1. He will be succeeded by U.S. District Judge William J. Zloch.

Thomas Scott, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida, notified President Clinton and Attorney General Janet Reno that he will resign May 30, his office said.

Scott said he will return to private practice with the law firm of Shook, Hardy and Bacon.

The resignations did not appear to be related.

Davis, 67, a University of Florida graduate, was appointed chief judge for the Southern District in 1997. He had been a district judge since 1979.

Scott, a University of Miami law graduate, was appointed U.S. attorney in 1997, having been a district judge since 1985.

_ Ledger and wire reports