Clam Up

George Don't Like No Jabberin'

Fort Lauderdale City Manager George "Gummybear" Gretsas don't like no unnecessary palaver during City Commission meetings. Capeech? If those elected people talk too much, it encourages, er, disagreements. And you know where that could lead, right? So Duh Boss conducts special one-on-one "conferences" with commissioners. Gets the votes wrapped up ahead of time, all neat and pretty like yer little girl's birthday present.

So on the occasion of Georgie Boy's one-year anniversary on the job this month, New Times has obtained secret tapes of his meeting with Mayor Jimmy Naugle. The Organization of American States was comin' to town last month, see, and Big George didn't want no commie beatniks givin' the city a black eye. So he and his boys explained the, uh, issues to Jim-Bob before he voted on a (later-overturned-in-court) measure to limit demonstrations. On the q.t. No fuss, little muss:

Clam Up
Clam Up

Gretsas (in double-breasted suit and black fedora, entering Jimbo's office with Franky and Spanky, two beefy, bent-nosed men): Got two words for you, Jimmerino. Peace and quiet. Me and the boys, see, we don't much fancy no ugly hoopla on our streets. The traffic jams, the banners, the litter. None of that. It encourages lawbreakers.

Naugle: Well, freedom of speech is one of the...

Gretsas (grabbing Jimmy-boy's shirt): Nobody asked for no civics lesson. (He lights a smokeless cigarette. ) Like I was sayin', there's gonna be a motion banning OAS protests on the agenda tomorrow night. I think you're gonna keep your mouth shut and vote for it. (One of the goons stands behind Jimmy-baby and places two immaculately manicured hands on his shoulders. ) That's why you hired me, ain't it? To make things go all smooth like. (Those manicured hands move toward the Jimmerino's throat. )

Naugle: Gurgle, gurgle.

Gretsas: So you're understandin' us now, eh? There won't be no need for you to get all motor mouth in front of John Q tomorrow night. Let's just say your fellow commissioners are in full agreement with you. (Turns around. ) Right, boys?

(Gretsas and The Boys exit laughing. )

Because of Winn-Dixie

The widespread closing of troubled Winn-Dixie's supermarkets won't be felt too hard in South Florida. Only four of Broward's 43 stores are slated for shuttering.

Why's the chain going broke? Might be because of the shoplifting at Winn-Dixie. There have been dozens of reports at one of the stores where a buddy of this tube used to toil -- at the intersection of Sunrise Boulevard and Powerline Road.

So the 'Pipe pulled some recent police reports to find out what the Winn-Dixie crowd is doing for fun:

On March 30, a minor tried to walk out with $19.45 in merchandise in a black bag and $3.17 worth of hair bands in her jacket pocket. The giveaway was when a witness saw her enter the restroom with a package of strawberries.

On April 24, a 37-year-old man had a clerk ring up $12.45 in Bayer and cough syrup, admitted he had no money, and tried to walk out.

On May 11, a 29-year-old man set off the alarm with a $3.99 bottle of Tylenol. He was released with a trespass warning.

On May 26, a 46-year-old man set off the antitheft alarm with a $3.39 stick of Mitchum deodorant. Turned out he was already wanted for theft.

On June 2, a 59-year-old man with a heart tattoo on his left arm tried to walk out with $11.85 worth of stuff (two Bic lighters and 13 packets of Kool-Aid) in his back pockets. The alarm noticed.

On June 20, an employee on her way into the bathroom noticed a 31-year-old woman taking medicine out of boxes to conceal them for theft. She was caught with $321.41 worth of Visine, Advil, Aleve, and women's socks and two used glass crack pipes with no assigned retail value.

On June 22, a 52-year-old man tried to walk out with a 16-ounce can of Steel Reserve 211 beer in his pocket. Police kept the stolen beer for trial.

You think you've got it bad? Shop at Winn-Dixie and get a dose of reality. When you're down and out, there's nothing like some Kool-Aid and a Bic lighter to get your focus back.

Portrait of Benny

Press coverage of the Controversy art show at the publicly funded Broward Art Guild seems to have taken on a twisted life of its own. After Deerfield Beach artist Michael Friedman complained about the poor taste of a prominently displayed painting by Alfred Phillips -- it depicts President Dubya bent over an oil barrel and serving as a bottom to an Arab man's top -- bigwig county officials ordered that the painting be put on a less conspicuous wall of the gallery. That set off a media blitz about government censorship, which included editorials in out-of-town newspapers like the St. Petersburg Times and even a planned segment on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

In fact, the media blitz was so great that the National Catholic League jumped in. Forget the president taking it from behind, Catholic League President William Donohue said. Get rid of Friedman's own contribution to the exhibit, which was a painting of Pope Benedict XVI in front of several swastikas.

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