"Don't Blame Me"
So Broward County voters chose John F. Kerry over George W. Bush by a 2-to-1 margin. Tailpipe can already visualize the bumper stickers that, in a year or two, will start to appear on all the hardy little hybrid cars around Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood, after the shit really starts to hit the Bush administration fan: "Don't blame me. I'm from Broward County."
But a look at the record shows that not only was the county's support for Kerry lukewarm (less than the Gore turnout four years ago) but that it was as knee-jerk as a migration of lemmings.
In every county-level and state-level election in Broward, the candidate who raised the most money won, no matter what their qualifications or party affiliation. Incoming County Commissioner Lois Wexler, incoming Property Appraiser Lori Nance Parrish, incoming School Board members Maureen S. Dinnen and Robin Bartleman, and incoming state Sen. Nan H. Rich -- all the moneybags hopefuls won in 2004.
Does cash buy votes in Broward County? Take a look at the close Florida House District 97 race between Republican Susan K. Goldstein and Democrat Barbara Herrera-Hill. Together, the two candidates raised roughly $225,000 in campaign contributions. In the end, Goldstein raised 51 percent of that money and just so happened to garner, in Florida's Democratic stronghold, 51 percent of the vote.
To hell with party affiliation. Show me some green.
Die, Liza, Die
Fort Lauderdale artist Liza Trainer and her group of film students have created an online collection of short films called Ted-E Adventures (see "Die, Ted-E, Die," Trevor Aaronson, February 12). The dark, tongue-in-cheek film shorts depict the brutal and often bloody slaying of a cuddly little teddy bear. Ted-E has been decapitated, put in a blender, run over by a semi, and shot pointblank by a 9mm handgun.
But on November 7, while working on a a full-length movie project titled Stick to What You Know at her Fort Lauderdale studio, Trainer suddenly became the target of all that hostility. Jesse Nieves, a laid-back 23-year-old who often wears a portable USB hard drive around his neck, started arguing with Trainer about the workload. He got in her face, Trainer told the 'Pipe, and she pushed him back.
That's when Nieves allegedly picked up a large metal pipe and struck Trainer. She attempted to fight back. Nieves bit her in the chest, then allegedly hit her again with the pipe. Trainer fell. Nieves stood above her, striking her repeatedly, according to a police report.
He stopped. "Jesse was panting," Trainer says. "It was like he'd just run a marathon." Trainer then ran to a phone and called 911. Nieves faces a charge of aggravated battery. Trainer, bloody and exhausted, was treated at Broward General Medical Center for bite wounds and lacerations to the head.
"He was trying to kill me," Trainer says.
Fortunately, unlike poor, often-killed little Ted-E, Trainer survived.
Anyone who ever wanted to penetrate the upper crust of Palm Beach -- with a machete, say -- will at least catch a glimpse next Halloween. That is, if all goes well for Bloody Social, the first slasher flick we know of that is set in the billionaire-laden beach burg. The movie (in film industry terms, it's "in development") is the brainchild of Warrington Gillette III, who ravaged a summer camp as Jason in Friday the 13th Part II. In real life, Gillette watched helplessly two years ago as his father, Palm Beach millionaire Francis Warrington Gillet Jr. , died at age 71.
The coroner listed heart problems as the cause of death, but Warrington Gillette III (the son prefers the spelling of the name that evokes a sharper, more marketable edge) believes his socialite stepmother was involved. According to him, Elesabeth Ingalls Gillet took up with a younger Cuban lover shortly before his father's death. Gillette III says she refused to allow an autopsy on his father's body, then withheld virtually all property and money from her husband's kids ("He's not going to get anything," the stepmom told the New York Daily News, referring to Gillette III in the classically high-handed language of a rich movie stepmother) and neglected to provide a headstone for her dead husband. When New Times called her, a woman with a twangy Southern accent picked up the phone at Gillet's number and declined an interview on behalf of the lady of the house, huffing to the 'Pipe: "I can tell you she won't have anything to do with it." Just the kind of behavior that, in all the movies that Tailpipe has seen, invites ghastly Technicolor retribution.
In fact, Jason's on the case. Watch out, folks. "I'm on a journey for justice," Gillette III says.
Traditional legal recourse has failed, the son says. Last summer, he filed a motion -- in which he alleged foul play -- to have his father's body exhumed but had to drop it when Elesabeth put up legal obstructions. Of course, doing a real-life Jason number could have serious repercussions. So Gillette has turned to what he knows best: film. The protagonist of Gillette's movie will be a former horror actor whose father dies under mysterious circumstances and whose sympathetic fans revolt violently against uncaring plutocrats. "I'm hoping to play myself," he says. Four distributors, including New Line Cinema, which owns the Friday the 13th franchise, are bidding for distribution rights.
For the script, Gillette hooked up with Michael Gingold, managing editor at horror entertainment mag Fangoria. Gingold's previous writing credits include Leeches!, a straight-to-video flick about nature gone wrong, and Shadow, a "women's prison martial arts zombie film" that's still in production. Look for the gory denouement to take place in the Flagler Museum.
This is one movie in which the lead probably won't have to ask the director, "What's my motivation?"
Another One Bites the Dust
Nothing like having your face hit the asphalt at about 30 mph to awaken one's activism. Until November 7, Delray Beach art gallery owner George Martin had been indifferently following the story of his city's reluctance to give bicycles and pedestrians safe right of passage on State Road AIA. That particular stretch of oceanfront roadway has been under the microscope, as the State of Florida has called for five-foot bike lanes, which wealthy homeowners have opposed.
On a ride along the beach just before noon, a car making a left turn onto Ocean Terrace smacked into Martin and his bike. "An elderly woman," Martin says, "who wasn't paying attention..." After striking the car's fender, "I flew over and across the car's hood and landed on the pavement on the other side." A helmet helped him avoid serious injuries, but his face is pretty messed up. "I was lucky. I'm happy I'm still here," he adds.
Weekly rides from Boca Raton to Palm Beach are always most treacherous during the Delray leg, Martin explains. "There should be bike lanes, clearly marked crosswalks, and properly exhibited signs," he says. As for folks pedaling in his skid marks, Martin offers some sage advice: "Be careful. And go to the city hall and pressure them."
Brother, Pass the Trojans
Tailpipe finds it unlikely that, somewhere between the prayers, the hymns, and the passing of the plate, church elders would take time to distribute contraceptives to the assembled masses. Not even if Bill Clinton were to be proclaimed president for life.
Yet there it was last Sunday on the front page of the Palm Beach Post above a story on AIDS. Why, the Post pondered, do pastors "condemn homosexuality instead of handing out condoms?" While this tube's all for tolerance, distributing rubbers in the collection basket -- now, that seems unlikely.
Unsurprisingly, the passage, and the six AIDS-related articles that followed, angered a few of the men in robes, who are now demanding a sit-down with Post editors. Why? More than anything else because the newspaper implied that the preachers snubbed a pancake breakfast held last year to discuss the AIDS problem for fear that it would be connected to homosexuality. The absence of two of the most prominent leaders of black churches in Palm Beach County was mentioned: Bishop Thomas Masters and Bishop Harold Calvin Ray.
"What they said about Bishop Masters and me was libelous," says the charismatic Ray, whose voice simmers with indignation. He insists that, on the morning of the breakfast, he had a previous engagement. "I don't know what [the Post's] intentions were, but they were not good."
Masters, an eloquent voice for the African-American community in South Florida, says the Post was misguided in criticizing black preachers. "No one in Palm Beach County has done more about the AIDS problem than Bishop Ray," Masters says. "Both of us have done a lot to help stop AIDS from spreading, but you can't find anyone who's done more than him."
So, while Masters and Ray were battling the disease (in a county that has the fifth-highest HIV rate in the nation), how were the Post editors chipping in? Was that Editor Edward Sears out on Henrietta Street, passing out little foil-covered packages?
Not long ago, New Times investigated the troubled veterans medical center in West Palm Beach ("The Hospital on the Hill," Wyatt Olson, September 9). The story described a hospital rife with nepotism, favoritism, and harshly punitive policies toward those who worked there. One employee, Veronica Pledger, a 44-year-old single mother, described a particularly shameless act of favoritism: In December 2003, she said, her supervisor expedited a claim for the brother of hospital director Edward H. Seiler.
The article led to quick action by the powers that be at the Veteran's Administration. Unfortunately, the official response was to kill the messenger. Pledger, a veteran herself, is now facing a two-week unpaid suspension, which, in the Byzantine logic of Seiler's bailiwick, is simply a prelude to her termination. "They'd rather make a point," Pledger says, shaking her head, "as opposed to addressing the real issue -- at the expense of service to veterans."
VA officials maintain that Pledger violated the privacy of the director's brother. But Pledger revealed no details about the case -- other than that preferential treatment took place and that she had notified a high-ranking administrator about the problem. No one has been disciplined in the case except Pledger.
"I lose 1,300 bucks," Pledger laments. "I've already told [my daughter] that basically means no Christmas."
Next stop, termination. "That's the cost, I guess," Pledger says, "for speaking up." VA spokeswoman Margaret Macklin said it was "against policy" to offer preferential treatment, adding that she could not comment on Pledger's case.
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A hair-raising blast of the 'Pipe's most caustic emissions for the corrupt VA bureaucrats.
-- As told to Edmund Newton
Former New Times Broward-Palm Beach art director Michael Shavalier has been named a winner in Print magazine's Regional Design Annual Competition. Judges cited his work on two New Times Broward-Palm Beach covers: "Don't Drink the Water" and "Unsafe Sex." Shavalier is now art director at Miami New Times.