By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By Keegan Hamilton and Francisco Alvarado
By Jake Rossen
By Allie Conti
By Kyle Swenson
By Chris Joseph
By Michael E. Miller
This is at Out of the Closet Thrift Store, in Wilton Manors. Way past the battered straight chairs and chipped chests of drawers, beyond the dog costumes (go ahead, turn Rover into a bumblebee), there's an imposing contraption. It's made of hollow metal bars like the posts that support a chain link fence. The posts are in a box shape, with chains strung from each corner, supporting a large canvas swatch.
What is it? A medical device? A cage? A dog bed? The sign calls it a "sling." It's yours for a mere $275. To sweeten the deal, the sign suggests that the lucky buyer can take the Out of the Closet employee of his or her choice home for the evening.
"So what is this?" Tailpipe wanted to know.
"Are you kidding?" said the clerk. "It's for sex. One person lies down, the other gets on top, and they do it suspended in the air."
"It looks brand-new."
"Well," he said, "I saw the guy that donated it. Not attractive."
Yeah, there was $17,000 in proceeds from the sale of recorded audio tapes that was supposedly missing from New Mount Olive Baptist Church coffers, and there was a lot of alleged finagling by the pastor in strange business deals. Suspicious trustees of the Fort Lauderdale church said they'd like a closer look at the balance sheet to see what stories it could tell. You can read about the long-festering dispute in Thomas Francis' New Times article "Witch Hunt at New Mount Olive" (December 20, 2007).
But now the trustees, who left office in August 2006 after clashing with the Rev. Mack King Carter, are talking real money. The trustees, who sued Carter in August 2006, contending they were entitled to a more thorough accounting, finally got their hands on some of the documents they were asking for — and they think they may have hit the jackpot.
The trustees' attorney, Willie Jones of Delray Beach, says his clients weren't satisfied with past church audits, alleging that those reports had been "sanitized." The trustees sought access to church bank statements, which would give a complete rundown of activity including deposits and withdrawals.
Jones recently got the church's financial records from 2004, and he says they tell a fascinating tale: over $53 million in church funds that were unknown to church trustees.
That's right, Jones says: $53 million. (The New Mount Olive budget at the time was only about $3 million.)
Jones filed a motion last Thursday calling for a new round of depositions. "I want to know the source of the $53 million and where it went," he says. "And I want to know why the trustees didn't know about it."
Eugene Pettis, the Fort Lauderdale attorney representing Carter and other New Mount Olive staff members, says he has not yet seen Jones' motion, but he told Tailpipe the idea that $53 million came and went without the trustees' knowledge is "asinine." Pettis added: "I hope they're right, that there really is $53 million for the church to spend."
Find Me a Match
Like a lot of women, Lisa Johnson of Sunrise loves shoes. And purchasing shoes has been the catalyst for more than one disagreement with her husband, Jeff. Now, Lisa says, Jeff won't let her buy any more shoes. Not until she does something with the heavy bag she keeps in their bedroom closet.
The bag is overflowing with shoes. Mostly sandals (Lisa's favorite). Mostly single, unpaired sandals — all right-footed.
"I tried to hide the bag," Lisa says, "but it keeps getting more and more full. I've got all these right shoes and I don't know what to do with them."
Lisa, age 38, suffered a stroke when she was 16. After years of treatment, she has mostly recovered but there is still some partial paralysis on her right side. Three years ago, doctors told her to wear a special brace on her right foot. "They told me I have to wear these retarded-looking shoes. I said, 'Just give me one, because I refuse to wear both.'"
So Lisa kept buying shoes and stuffed the right shoes in the bag. Most are Birkenstocks, which can cost around $100 a pair. "I'm afraid to throw them away," she said. "It seems like it'd be such a waste."
She has sandals in pink, yellow, green, white, and several shades of blue. Some have buckles. Some have back straps. Some have two straps. Most have never been worn. They're all size 7 or 8, wide.
"I'm not sure what I'm going to do with them," she said. She just knows she can't keep them anymore, not if she wants to buy still more shoes and maintain a peaceful relationship.
"There has to be someone on earth who needs only right shoes. It can be a stroke victim, it can be an amputee, it can be anything. I just can't see throwing them out when someone out there could be looking for someone just like me with a bag just like this for them."
Could there be a match made in heaven out there?
"Maybe they'll have a big collection of all left shoes that I can have. Oh, that would be great!"