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The Story That Won't Die

Some day, presidential historians will study George Bush's 2004 election victory the way they now delve into other secrets and scandals, like Jefferson's slave children, FDR's mistress, and that suspicious last-minute flood of Democratic votes from Chicago that gave Kennedy the presidency in 1960. But for the moment, nobody but Tailpipe seems to want to hear about it.

The latest findings -- remarkable for being ignored by major media across the country -- are from analyses by Dennis Loo, a California State Polytechnic University sociology professor. Loo found that, at a time when Bush's approval ratings were ebbing fast, his last presidential bid apparently drew an extraordinary amount of support from non-Republican sources -- a scenario that can be accounted for only by a widespread manipulation of the results. "Taken as a whole," Loo says, his list of findings "points overwhelmingly to fraud."

For example, in 2000, Bush got 85 percent of Florida's registered Republican votes, but in 2004, if you believe the results, he did better. In 47 of 67 Florida counties, Bush racked up the equivalent of more than 100 percent of Republican votes. In 15 counties, it was the equivalent of 200 percent of the registered Republicans and, in four counties, 300 percent.

This didn't make sense, Loo says. It suggested a remarkable Election Day defection rate on the part of Democrats, defying not only the exit polls that predicted a John Kerry victory in Florida but common sense. Polls showed that Bush hadn't gained any ground at all among Democrats and that he actually lost ground among independents.

And where did this Bush crossover power register most strongly? Not, as initially suggested by the talking heads, in the conservative rural areas fueled by a concern for "moral values" but in Democratic strongholds like Broward and Palm Beach (where 111,000 new Democrats were enrolled before the election, as opposed to only 20,000 new Republicans). In other words, where electronic voting machines were counting the votes, Kerry carried the two counties but not by the kinds of majorities that would have won the state.

The notion that a Democratic mutiny in Broward and Palm Beach fueled Bush's victory is not only counterintuitive, Loo says, but incredible.

If you think the Florida results were weird, check out some of Loo's Ohio findings. See the full report at You won't find anything about it in our daily newspapers.

But what do pollsters know? "Exit polls are the gold standard of vote counting validity internationally," Loo says. They measure support on the day it counts, not weeks before, when potential voters who are interviewed may not even show up to vote. "Exit polls are almost never wrong," Loo says.

So what do we have here? A smoking gun? No. Grounds for impeachment? Probably not. But a loud, chassis-rattling Tailpipe warning that the Democrats better get a hack-proof voting system in place before 2008.

Aussie Shade

Sara Goodman Lapidus gets downright poetic when she describes a certain kind of tree dear to her heart. "All the beautiful, majestic Australian pines gracing a small public park..." or "green-feathered Australian pine sky..."

Could this be the same species of tree that the Parkland City Commission last summer was hellbent to chain-saw en masse from the town's Six-Acre Park? The same tree regarded by state officials as a woody weed, an affront to native foliage, a plague on the Land of the Everglades? Off with its head!

Lapidus, however, staunchly battled the commissioners to a standstill, so that now -- aided by municipal budget woes -- the trees have gotten a reprieve. Just in time, says Lapidus, who was once an attorney in the publishing field and stresses she's not "some tree-hugging crackpot."

"How ironic is it that Parkland lost fewer than 30 Australians total, out of thousands, to Frances," she says, "but for the months before Frances, I was repeatedly told by Parkland officials that one of the primary reasons for killing Australians was because they were going to fall over eventually anyway in a hurricane?" None were lost last week during Katrina's visit. Lapidus argues that Australian pines, which were introduced here a century ago and can grow to mighty heights, are at this point no more invasive than Chinese food, mustangs, or British rock.

"We hear how supposedly 'harmful' the Australian pines are to wildlife, but my research has revealed that they are actually protecting lots of wildlife from the harmful effects of Florida's overdevelopment," she adds.

Lapidus has a point. "The tree's height and opacity help to protect animals from toxic matters like the shocking lights of Florida's 24/7 roads, highways, shopping malls, and other such unnatural 'native' matters," she says.

President Radius, That's Who

Hollywood Mayor Mara Giulianti recently lambasted the news media for characterizing her town as Condo City. Speaking about a new development, she unleashed an irritated diatribe from the City Commission dais: "I guess it's going to be sensationalized continuously. Fifty-floor condos on Brickell [Avenue in Miami Beach] don't warrant the word tower half the time or 40 floors in Fort Lauderdale. We have 14 floors, and [the media reports that] we're eminent-domaining for a tower."

Tailpipe took heed. Maybe Mayor Mara's complaint seemed almost reasonable.

Drive through Hollywood and you get a history lesson. There's a nearly century-old tradition of naming city roads after ex-presidents, from Washington Street to Coolidge Street, in exact order of succession.

But then there was this, jutting from a pole at the corner of Federal Highway. "Polk Street," the sign read, referring to former President James Polk. But under the street name was another name -- Radius Drive, as in Lane Company's 12-story Radius condo tower going up near Young Circle. Polk Street now has an official co-name.

Had Hollywood become Developer-

landia, altering tradition for a fat-cat condo developer?

"Only someone from New Times could say that with a straight face," Mayor Mara responded, noting that two other city streets are co-named, respectively, for baseball slugger and children's hospital namesake Joe DiMaggio and residential developer Ben Tobin.

As for co-naming a street for a gleaming condo tower now under construction: Don't blame me, Mara said in effect. The decision to give Polk Street a developer-friendly co-name was made by her mayoral predecessors, David Keating and Sal Oliveri.

"Not that that will change your story!"

-- As told to Edmund Newton


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