Undercurrents

We're usually just amazed when people contort information from this paper, take it out of context, and use it for their own devices. Now we're angry.

The afterlife of "Hooray For Hollywood!" (Harris Meyer, April 29) continues to evolve in mysterious ways. A reprinted passage has been circulating around Hollywood in a slimy political flier revealing muddy fingerprints.

The quote in question has Commissioner John Coleman motioning toward a black toddler on the beach and saying, "[Mayor] Mara [Giulianti] doesn't want that kid here. She wants four-star restaurants where she and her Emerald Hills friends can dress up and dine. I want to keep this beach for the people of Hollywood, not for rich Europeans."

A political slam? No doubt. Inflammatory? Apparently. But racist and anti-Semitic? Nope. Yet that's what "Nelly Evans" argues in a "paid political advertisement" mailed out to select citizens: "[Coleman] attacked a whole area of our city, attacked a whole religion, and demeaned the black population.... [By] 'rich Europeans' he did not mean the tourist. It's rather more sinister and dangerous than that." Oh really?

"Nelly Evans" couldn't be reached for comment. (A public-records search turned up no Hollywood resident by that name.) But Frank Yamout, chairman of the Save Hollywood political action committee, explained that "any reasonable person" would interpret the reference to Emerald Hills as somehow slandering Jewish people and the contrast to "rich Europeans" as insinuating that all blacks are poor. While Yamout denies any knowledge of or connection to the letter, he and other Save Hollywood members made similar statements at a recent city commission meeting, where Hollywood Lakes resident Linda Wilson says she saw them holding papers that bore a striking resemblance to the offensive flier.

So the web of intrigue and insinuation spins outward, now driven by activists who say the flier itself incites hate. The problem now is that these incensed citizens are photocopying it, faxing it, and passing it on, and we hope the people who see it realize that the words taken out of context and spun by hateful people are an example of mudslinging at its worst.

No hard feelings, right? Apparently not. That must be why Tom Tornatore, a.k.a. Palm Beach Gardens' "friendly fire marshal" accused of molesting boys, called his nemesis, Sgt. Robert Artola of the Palm Beach Gardens police.

Tornatore phoned Artola to let him know there's someone out there a few bushels short of a full load who doesn't like him or his tactics very much. It seems that following our publication of a story ("Presumed Guilty," Bob Whitby, May 13) detailing Artola's less-than-airtight case against Tornatore, a reader got so upset at the injustice of it all that he called Tornatore and made threats against Artola. Being the upstanding, law-abiding citizen that he is, Tornatore dutifully called Artola and reported the matter.

"There are some twisted people out there," says Tornatore. "I'd hate to see someone get hurt over a newspaper story."

Twisted people who read New Times? Say it ain't so.

-- as told to Tom Walsh

Got a tip? Call 954-233-1581, fax 954-233-1571, or e-mail undercurrents@newtimesbpb.com.

 
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