Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Help Me Howard: Memorable 2008
With Help me Howard we hear from thousands of people a year. So many have memorable stories, and even after they tell their stories, afterwards things change. How? Here's Help me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
Jobie Steppe: "I'm just an average person trying to make a living and enjoy himself."
Jobie Steppe may think he is average, but he is not. The Coconut Grove artist made these works of art in his yard for years, till Miami Code Enforcement told him to stop or they would place a lien on his home and take it away from him.
Patrick Fraser: "They said they are going to foreclose on you."
Jobie Steppe: "Let them try."
Jobie then headed to City Hall to battle code enforcement.
Jobie Steppe: "Nobody cares, do they? Nobody gives a damn if I die or not. This is my artwork, and I'm going to continue."
They threw Jobie out of City Hall, but he is not going away and is now suing the City of Miami.
Jobie fought while standing up, Shelley fought while sitting down.
John Laing: "She never gave up, she just re-adjusted and started a new life."
Shelley was paralyzed in a car accident. To stay in shape she swims. When she offered to pay to put in a chair to lift her, the association told her no way.
Shelley Laing: "I don't think it's subtle discrimination, I think it's blatant."
Shelly kept fighting. This is the result. She won and is happily lapping the pool whenever she wants.
People were happy after her story, but this was a different story.
Aleida Lanza: "The sign is called New Testament Boulevard."
The street name bothered Aleida Lanza who says it violated the separation of church and state.
Aleida Lanza: "I have a problem with our government using tax dollars to promote a religious connotation."
Howard agreed, the sign came down, and we got criticized for helping bring the sign down.
Amanda Gomez: "It didn't make sense to me because I have strong beliefs, and I was discouraged with WSVN Channel 7 that they would spend that time when there are so many other things that they could work with or do."
But normally people aren't mad at us when we help people. In this one, they were upset at Jimmy Buffet.
Denise Malefyt: "What he did was he heard about the Coconut Telegraph, wrote it in a song, made a great song, but he doesn't own the phrase."
Oh, yes, he does, said Buffett's attorneys, and then they demanded Denise change the name of her paper, the Coconut Telegraph.
Denise Malefyt: "I wonder why he is singling me out."
The people in the Keys don't like to see their friends pushed around, so they held a little protest and things have sort of worked out. Denise gave Buffett her Internet domain name. In turn, they are letting her continue to call her paper the Coconut Telegraph.
Liza Meoli: "We were shocked, we felt defeated."
Liza and Gigi opened their dream restaurant on Miami Beach, but then FPL decided to block off all four roads leading to Ouzo's for months, and FPL told them they were not responsible for the lost business.
Liza Meoli: "It will ruin us."
FPL did ruin them. They had to close, but in the past month, thanks to the support of some friends, they have opened a new restaurant off Biscayne Boulevard and 78th Street called Anise.
Liza Meoli: "Never to give up, just keep going. It wasn't a failure. It was just an obstacle, and maybe it was meant to be that we come here instead, and we are happier here."
Hopefully, they will only hear from FPL once a month when the electric bill arrives.
Another update, remember Erin who was kicked out of Palmetto High School for 10 weeks because her mother gave her a tiny canister of tear gas for protection at her dark bus stop?
Erin Bodle: "I think it's horrible and unfair."
Most viewers thought the Miami-Dade School District's decision was wrong, but Erin moved on. She is doing well at the alternative school and hopes to rejoin her classmates at Palmetto in January, and speaking of doing well.
Edna Rodriguez: "I was terrified."
When we last saw Jon he was on dialysis, desperate for a kidney transplant, but when his sister offered one of her kidneys she was blocked from donating it.
Vanessa Laboy: "His insurance is refusing to pay for you."
A few days after we got involved, Jackson Memorial worked it all out. Jon got the transplant.
Edna Rodriguez: "And thank you, guys, very much."
That was then, this is Jon now. Instead of laying in bed or sitting in a hospital, he can do what he never had the energy to do: play with his kids.
Jon Laboy: "I feel awesome. I'm in college now. I'm going for my Business Administration Bachelor's Degree. I can't complain, I can't complain. I'm feeling good."
Patrick Fraser: "It's nice to be able to help people and even nicer to meet so many nice people. We hear from people all the time who say, I never thought I would have to call you,' but things happen and when they do we will be here."
It looks like 2009 is going to be tough, so if you need help here are the ways to contact us. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Happy Kwanzaa.
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