Undercurrents

As its appetite for reinvention has grown, the City of Hollywood has developed discriminating taste. It appears that body piercing, tattooing, and tanning businesses don't have the look this ambitious municipality wants in its "better" neighborhoods. The services and clientele of these legal businesses are considered "detrimental" to the upscale image coveted by city planners and politicians.

On January 6 the Hollywood City Commission voted on an ordinance that classifies a tanning salon as "adult use" and restricts its location to industrial zoning districts -- and then only at a safe distance from residential areas, religious or educational institutions, and preexisting adult businesses. In other words, these legitimate business owners can cling to Hollyweird's fringe but cannot set up shop on its more respectable streets.

Kim Jackson, director of Hollywood's downtown Community Redevelopment Agency, claims city officials are "concerned about the quality" of businesses in the area. Since it's impossible to regulate quality, the next best thing is to limit the number of certain types of businesses or make it tougher to do business. In other words, discriminate against the businesses some politicians don't like.

"This is a family-operated, family-oriented business," insists Extreme Tan's owner Julien Purcell, nodding toward the toddler napping in a crib at the center of a subdued waiting area. There goes the neighborhood.

He's not Nick the Cop anymore.
After an 11-year career at the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office (PBSO), John Nicholas -- the Gypsy-born deputy who claimed to have left that swindling culture so he could investigate and arrest Gypsy criminals -- has resigned. His irresistible shtick of a Gypsy turned cop got him a lot of time in the local media and propelled him to minor stardom as an on-air consultant for such shows as Dateline NBC and CBS' 48 Hours.

New Times publicly popped Nicholas' high-flying bubble last May, exposing the fact that he'd been under internal investigation for vacationing in Costa Rica with a convicted Gypsy criminal and introducing another suspected Gypsy swindler to detectives in Miami Beach. Those investigators called Nick's superiors, complaining that Nicholas was trying to use his power as a deputy to get special favors for the swindler.

Even as Nicholas' national celebrity increased, his own department forbade him from investigating Gypsy crimes and relegated him to road patrol. Nicholas, who couldn't be reached for comment after his resignation, had previously claimed that he was the victim of racism and never gave Gypsies special favors.

When PBSO Assistant Director Richard Virgadamo was questioned about Nicholas in early May, he told New Times he would start a new investigation. PBSO internal investigator Mark James said Nicholas, who stepped down on September 22, wasn't forced to resign.

"I can only guess he'd had enough of the investigations, the innuendo, and the [New Times] newspaper article," James says.

According to Gypsy sources, Nicholas is looking to find work as an investigator of some kind. If he becomes a private eye, he'll have a ready-made new nickname: Nick the Dick.

Undercurrents wants to know about any and all political deals, media screwups, and particularly dumb memos from bureaucrats. Let us know. Call 954-233-1581, fax 954-233-1571, or e-mail undercurrents@newtimesbpb.com.

 
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