Tailpipe

Pink Elephant?

A Big Piece of Sculpted Concrete

While rolling along the sands of Fort Lauderdale's beach, Tailpipe always takes a good long look at Ireland's Inn, that s-shaped, off-pink hotel from a bygone era north of Sunrise Boulevard. Sure, the place needs a daub of paint, maybe some new plumbing and wiring. But it still evokes a sunny era when The Jetsons were on TV, Dean Martin was on the radio, and square corners were giving way to waves and curves.

So, of course, the family that owns it wants to knock it down and build a mixed hotel-condo development of 300 to 400 units. "We're going to build a family-friendly resort on the beach in Fort Lauderdale," maintains Andy Mitchell, a son-in-law of the venerable Ireland family. "We live here, on site. We're not developers from outside the city."

But the Broward Trust for Historic Preservation -- the group that helped save parts of the Fort Lauderdale Beach Hotel from the wrecking ball -- is planning to save our chunk of the Emerald Isle. "Ireland's Inn is a fabulous example of mid-century modern architecture," insists Diane Smart, who's with the trust. It's is seeking to have the 40-year-old building designated as historically significant -- against the family's wishes. Mid-century modern, which is Broward County's signature architecture from the late '50s and early '60s, often includes wings, fins, and sweeping, soaring concrete walls.

Fort Lauderdale Commissioner Dean Trantalis,who has mediated the dispute, takes the preservationists' side. "They can say all they want about being early pioneers of the city, and that's well and good," he says of the hotel owners, "but that doesn't justify your reckless attempts to destroy something that's become part of the city's personality."

I Want to Live

Listening to the cries of "murder" at the death last week of Terri Schiavo, Tailpipe thought he must have gotten it all wrong. This crazy conduit had assumed that most people wouldn't want to be warehoused in a hospice in a permanent state of oblivion. But here were these Christian activists, including some national figures, saying what a horrible crime it had been to free Schiavo.

Because of the publicity, a lot of people have apparently been asking themselves the same question: How would you want to be treated in similar circumstances? The Florida Bar Association says that a posting on its website about "living wills" -- directions about the kind of medical treatment a patient wants should he or she become incapacitated -- has received a landslide of interest. "We were getting 62, 63 hits a day at the site," Bar Association spokeswoman Francine Walkersays. "Then the week of March 21 [after Schiavo's feeding tube was removed], we got 39,756 hits, an average of 5,679 a day."

Whoa. So how many of the new living wills say, "Keep me alive at all costs"? Virtually none, local lawyers tell the Tube. Boynton Beach advocate Scott Michael Solkoff says that in 11 years in the business, about 99 percent of his clients who draw up living wills "want no heroic measures" employed to keep them alive. Fort Lauderdale's Seth Marmor, who specializes in elder law, says a man who came in just the other day said he would want to be kept alive by a feeding tube. "It's only the third case like that I ever had," says Marmor, who has been practicing law for 23 years.

Adds Fort Lauderdale's Russell Carlisle. "There are always a couple who want to be kept alive at any cost, but the vast majority are thinking of some sort of limitation on the authority of other people [to keep them alive]."

The Last Break

Since 29-year-old Kevin Hoffmanmoved to Broward County from Terre Haute, Indiana, three years ago, he's had a headline-grabbing relationship with the local criminal justice system.

First, on March 26, 2001, state prosecutors charged Hoffman and accomplice Geoffrey Kennedy with the Fort Lauderdale torture-homicide of storage warehouse manager Michael Sortal. Kennedy confessed to the murder, while police linked Hoffman to the crime using DNA evidence.

Then Hoffman received "the break of ten lifetimes," as Assistant State Attorney Howard Scheinbergdescribed it. The Broward Sheriff's Office crime lab inadvertently tainted the evidence. Hoffman went free.

Hoffman again made page one when he was reindicted. Detectives had dug up more evidence, and Kennedy had agreed to testify against his accomplice. Hoffman's attorney, Hilliard Moldoff, allegedly even tried to bribe a witness, authorities said.

Now, there are new charges. According to a March 18 BSO report obtained by the 'Pipe, Hoffman tried to bribe two fellow inmates in an attempt to frame a guard. On July 28, 2004, Hoffman began fighting Rhaun Aguiar Hilel, who's serving ten years in prison for 12 robbery charges in 2002 and 2003. After Hilel put the smackdown on Hoffman, the twice-indicted killer allegedly offered Hilel money not to say they were in a fight. He planned to blame his injuries on one of the guards.

Later that evening, Hoffman reported that Sgt. Frank Smith had beaten him with a pepper-spray can. Det. Valerian Perezinvestigated. Hoffman's legendary luck may be running out. Both Hilel and Luis Martinez, a former ATF informant on trial for the murder of a Mob associate, told BSO that Hoffman was running a scam.

A calendar call for his murder trial is scheduled for April 8.

And the Dog Ate My Homework

According to the March 24 Miami Herald: "Early-morning Tri-Rail commuters ran into delays this morning caused by atmospheric conditions. Cloud formations blocked the radio signals that are used to dispatch the trains, said Bonnie Arnold, spokeswoman for the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority, which operates Tri-Rail. 'It's basically a matter of the way the clouds line up,' Arnold said."

Here, from New Times' own weather pages, a look back at other recent atmospheric effects:

SOLAR FLARES: January 18, 2001 -- They're believed responsible for the disappearance of Rilya Wilson, insist Department of Children & Families officials: "They're so bright, they just make kids really hard to see."

TROPICAL STORMS: September 10, 2002 --Lightning and high winds are the suspected cause of voting irregularities, county elections officials claim: "Absentee ballots just hate thunder."

SUNSPOTS: March 27, 2005 -- Radio station ZETA abandons rock for new "Hurban" format, blames Spanglish switch on "those pesky sunspots."

MAGNETIC FIELDS: March 29, 2005 -- Eighteen hundred registered sex offenders are missing; a Florida Department of Law Enforcement spokesman explains: "When those durn Van Allen belts come loose, we tend to lose a few."

-- As told to Edmund Newton

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