MIAMI — Former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno appears to have lost in an unlikely matchup with former NBA star Alonzo Mourning.
A committee charged with deciding what to call a new high school in North Miami was considering naming it after one of the two, and last week chose the athlete and his wife.
The recommendation was forwarded to the Miami-Dade School Board, which will vote Wednesday whether to approve the Alonzo and Tracy Mourning Senior High School Biscayne Bay Campus as the school's name.
Mourning was a star for the Miami Heat, but it was the work he and his wife have done in local schools, including mentoring, that spurred the nomination. School board member Martin Karp proposed the Mournings after two students suggested them. Reno's and Mourning's names were the last two considered out of about a dozen possibilities.
"They've spent more than a decade contributing directly to Miami-Dade County public schools in various ways," he said. "When you look at what they've done together, it's directly impacted children."
All but one of the other three committee members sided with Karp in naming the school for the Mournings. The former mayor of North Miami, Kevin Burns, opposed it, having proposed Reno.
An e-mail and phone message left with Burns, who is running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Mel Martinez, was not returned Tuesday.
"I am not questioning that the Mournings deserve the honor, but I think, for this school, it should either be named after Janet or the geographical area," he told The Miami Herald.
Reno was the longtime Miami-Dade state attorney before becoming the country's first female attorney general. She lives in the Miami suburb of Kendall.
Many in South Florida's large Cuban-American population disagree with her order to return 6-year-old Elian Gonzalez to his father in Cuba in 2000. Karp said he recognized the controversy Reno's name could spark.
"I was really hopeful to avoid any kind of a situation that would be divisive in nature and I certainly don't think she would welcome that kind of response either," he said of Reno.