When the time comes to reward all those who have gone to the mat to protect the Bush legacy, Florida Secretary of State Glenda Hood will be there in the front row, beaming as Dubya pins the Presidential Medal of Bending Over for the Cause on her blouse. It was she and her staff, after all, who cooked up a crude felons list to diminish black voter turnout in the presidential election -- then scuttled the whole thing after a storm of criticism. She was also a prime proponent of electronic voting machines (no troublesome paper trail, remember?), and getting Ralph Nader, the wimpy spoiler, on the ballot.
But Hood serves in subtler ways. Among her duties is administering incorporation of businesses.
So when North Palm Beach lawyer Thomas Dougherty tried on December 13 to register the company name To Hell With Bush Inc. with the State of Florida, it didn't surprise him that Hood's flunkies denied his request a day later. "As you could probably gather, I'm not a big Bush supporter," says Dougherty, who planned to use the company to start an anti-Bush website. "So I wasn't shocked they would try something like this."
Hood's office claimed the name was "slanderous or immoral." Hood spokeswoman Jenny Nash says the decision is not about politics. "It could have said To Hell With Jane Doe and we wouldn't have registered it," she told Tailpipe.
But a quick search of company names approved by Hood's office shows that, as the 'Pipe has observed, morality is often in the eye of the beholder. How about Damn Inc., Screw Co., and TITS Inc.? How did they pass muster in the era of state-sanctioned evangelism? Then there're the rivals Boobs Inc. and Boobs of Florida Inc. (soon to appear on a resurrection of CNN's Crossfire). There's also ASS Inc. and, from Ocala, the questionably spelled Pusy Inc. Maybe most startling of all: a pair of companies out of Orlando named Friggin Inc. and Balls on Your Forehead Inc. Those were founded by DJ Robert "Taco Bob" Miller, who thinks he got one by Hood and her flunkies.
"I don't think they got it," Miller says. "The woman at the state pronounced it 'fridge-in.' And the other one, I think they thought it was sports-related."
This month, Dougherty sued to force Hood to register his company. The website, tohellwithbush.com, is already up, operating under the provocatively named business Sorry World Inc.
Déjà vu Abu
Last month, State Attorney Michael Satz ordered the arrest of two Broward sheriff's deputies, Christopher Thieman and Christian Zapata, alleging that the pair had falsified confessions and personally benefited from filing the doctored reports. The arrests of dozens more cops may be in the, er, pipe. They're calling it the PowerTrac scandal. Of course, Broward Sheriff Ken Jenne, a chum of the county's top prosecutor, ain't in Satz's sights.
Does the name Abu Ghraib seem relevant here? Army Specialist Charles Graner is about to do ten years for stacking naked prisoners and the like. Many others are under investigation. Yet Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is preparing to serve the prez during Bush II and nobody's talking about his crimes -- even though journalist Seymour Hersh has shown that Rummy blessed Afghan torture.
Only difference between Rummy and Jenne is their political party. One's a Republican, the other a Democrat.
Jenne was for years hailed as a miracle worker because his department solved all those crimes. The persecution complex exhibited by whiny urban cops usually leaves Tailpipe colder than yesterday's scrambled eggs. But the department's harsh accountability system, which has given its name to the scandal, kept the pressure on Jenne's underlings to accumulate positive stats. So Jenne himself is clean?
Police Benevolent Association President Dick Brickman puts it this way: "Well, you know what runs downhill..."
A few weeks ago, a throng of residents of Fort Lauderdale's River Gardens neighborhood stormed into City Hall, claiming that the City Commission had sold them out. Their elected officials, they said, had ignored citizens' wishes and approved plans for a housing development unfit for their neighborhood.
Last year, the city bought and razed Henry's Retirement Home, which is just south of Sistrunk Boulevard and west of I-95. Then the commission overruled a citizens selection committee and approved a plan for a company named MoHomes to build a dozen new homes there.
Why give the job to Coral Springs-based developer MoHomes? Maybe because it's a partnership that includes consultant Pamela Adams. Didn't Adams help to manage Commissioner Carlton Moore's unsuccessful campaign for a County Commission seat in 2000? And wasn't she a senior vice president for HIP Health Plan of Florida, an insurance company that was recommended for lucrative school district and county contracts by McKinley Financial Services, where Moore is a vice president?
One problem with that explanation: Moore asked his fellow commissioners to reconsider their choice of MoHomes to develop the site, which is in Moore's district.
Jerry Kolo, a professor of urban planning at Florida Atlantic University in Fort Lauderdale, who attended the meeting, believes the move for reconsideration may have been just political cover. "Carlton waited until three other commissioners let it be known they weren't going to change their minds," he said. "Only then did he say anything, and he didn't really try to persuade them." Moore didn't return two calls seeking comment.
This 'Pipe thinks Kolo was doing more than just blowing smoke.
Got a vacant lot somewhere and a big-ass truck? Then one of the oldest homes in Fort Lauderdale is all yours. The ex-homestead, belonging to venerable blues lover Franni Howe-Southern, has a date with a bulldozer soon, unless someone claims it. Built in 1914 from Dade County pine and painted a lovely shade of turquoise, the old cottage and barn sit on 23 of a wooded acre that, until recently, had never been cleared. This verdant haven was the spot where Howe-Southern originally held her annual Frannipalooza, a neighborhood-friendly blues bash featuring hog roasts, moonshine swillin', and local musicians such as John the Cop, the Fabulous Fleetwoods, Albert Castiglia, and Joey Gilmore.
Howe-Southern sold the land and took off a couple of years back; since then, the place has stood empty, and it's looking mighty bedraggled these days.
Unlike Sailboat Bend to the north, the Riverside Park area enjoys no special protection for older properties. Since a porch and kitchen were added to Franni's place in recent years, it's ineligible for historic designation. So it's in line to be the latest home in Riverside Park to be knocked down in the name of change, even though it began life as the migrant quarters for a big pineapple plantation along the river.
"We're not going to attempt to stop progress," says Tom Andrew, vice president of the area's residents' association. "Sentimentally, you hate to see the old things go."
A local development firm called the Bentley Group recently won approval to put a nine-unit "cluster development" on the land. Pretty soon, the sound of a rip-snortin' good time in Riverside Park will be replaced by a rumble of heavy equipment.
"I went to a couple of Frannipaloozas," Andrew says, "and I don't know if we're ever going to see anything quite like that again. It was last time we're gonna get anything close to a Woodstock in the neighborhood."
Profits of the Flesh
Peter Pasch faced a rough 2004 when the 'Pipe last talked to the bulbous-eyed porn king. For two years, he and brother-in-law Jack Titolo had battled over the precious gift Pasch's dearly departed mother gave him: the ultralucrative Megasex Superstore in Fort Lauderdale and University Video in Lauderhill. There was a lot to fight over: The two smut shops pull in about $2.5 million a year, with profits of about $1.6 million.
So far, Pasch has been the loser. Titolo got greedy, Pasch claims, and instead of giving Pasch a helping hand with the business -- as Mother Pasch intended -- Titolo squeezed him out entirely. By the fall of 2002, both sought mutual restraining orders, with Titolo even accusing Pasch of shooting a bullet into his store.
But oh-five looks to be a bad year for Titolo. The IRS has just launched a tax fraud investigation and ordered him to produce every receipt, sales record, and bank statement for 2000 to 2003. Of course, Pasch had a hand in helping launch the criminal investigation: He provided the IRS with 700 pounds of boxed paperwork showing, he says, that Titolo made a damned sight more money than he was letting on. Not that Pasch is gloating.
No word from the surly Titolo.
-- As told to Edmund Newton
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