Tailpipe

Le Shrimp Missile

"We're gonna have more and more block parties," he says. "We know it's irritating them, and it's only going to get worse. We won't block them out entirely, but we're gonna make it a jigsaw puzzle for them to get to their church." Tailpipe just prays they don't start in with the stacks of burning tires.

Class A Phony

The 'Pipe is sad to report that it's business as usual at the VA Medical Center in West Palm Beach, the subject of a September 9, 2004, New Times exposé of nepotism, favoritism and fraud within the hospital's administration.

Take the case of Tom Renna, a 48-year-old VA employee who shuttles veterans to and from their appointments. In the fall of 2003, Renna, a lanky, long-faced fellow with receding hair and aw-shucks demeanor, applied for a supervisory position in his department. Management eventually awarded the job to a fellow driver, Ted Scott.

Renna, however, did a bit of snooping in public records and discovered that Scott only had a Class B driver's license, not the Class A -- that's for the big rigs -- required for the position. He raised a stink about it with hospital officials, but his complaints fell on deaf ears. Renna filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission over the promotion. When the issue of Scott's license came up during the EEOC investigation in September 2004, Scott provided his boss with a photocopy of a Class A license. But it was a fake, a fact that Renna proclaimed to anyone who would listen. Finally, in March of this year, Scott's supervisor, Wally Thompson, confronted his underling over the ongoing deceit. Scott admitted he'd lied.

Renna was dismayed to learn that Scott was only given a five-day suspension for falsifying records and lying to the EEOC, a federal agency. After spending $15,000 on legal fees and facing another $15,000 expenditure to proceed in court, Renna says, he settled the EEOC case. The terms remain confidential.

But Renna's been cajoling the VA Inspector General's Office at the hospital to look into the fraud. So far -- almost two years after the promotion -- that avenue has led nowhere. (Neither Thompson nor the inspector's office responded to phone messages.)

"I'm not disgruntled; I'm disappointed," Renna says.

Boob-tastic

Ever since Lake Worth sculptor Norman Gitzen loaned his statue The Siren to the Village of Wellington in July for display at the Community Center, there's been a contingent wanting it removed. Gitzen's bronze statue of a mermaid features breasts he says are anatomically correct, considering she's 18 feet from head to tail. But the anti-boob contingent says it's obscene. Gitzen, a cabinetmaker from Lake Worth, agrees the statue is a bit busty, but he argues that many women have the same, um, problem. "Especially in South Florida," he adds.

-- As told to Edmund Newton

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