That date echoed around this tube's noggin with a familiar resonance. Say, isn't that the same date as the venerable AIDS Walk Miami, now in its 18th year? The Miami event is sponsored by Care Resource, the oldest and largest not-for-profit agency in South Florida in the business of caring for and treating AIDS patients.
Tailpipe rang up Rick Siclari, executive director of Care Resource, who said that, yes, the Miami walk was scheduled for that date but that earlier this year, the agency's board decided to move it up to April 23 to avoid thinning the pool of walkers and contributors.
"It took a fair amount of undertaking because we'd already established it as the 30th," Siclari said. "We had to communicate with those who'd already registered, contact the grand marshal, check with the convention center. That was mid-January, and by that point and time... well, our planning is year-round."
The Fort Lauderdale walk is being run by a for-profit company called MZA Events, which also operates successful walks in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. The walk's primary beneficiary, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), is also big in those cities, but it's not a major player in Broward County though four smaller Broward agencies, like Broward House, will also benefit from the Lauderdale walk.
But, hey, AHF doesn't want to be greedy. It offered the Miami walkers a slice of the action. Siclari said Care Resource passed, mostly because all of his group's energies are devoted to the Miami walk, whose walkers come from both counties.
"I'm not happy that they have elected to do a walk in Fort Lauderdale that was to occur the same exact day as our walk," Siclari says. "I think it's a little too coincidental that you'd decide to build a walk in a very near proximity to a walk that has an 18-year history, on the same day. Frankly, it's somewhat opportunistic... cannibalistic." (AHF's spokesman, Joey Wynn, insists that all the money raised in Fort Lauderdale will be spent locally on HIV prevention efforts. The weekend was one of few suitable dates for the walk, he adds.)
Siclari is impeccably polite in his remarks, but there's a glint of steel in the prospect of competing AIDS walks.
The AIDS-walk rivalry doesn't quite compare with the bootlegging turf wars between Al Capone and Bugsy Moran in the 1920s, but the principle is the same. An enterprise-on-the-make moves into a competitor's territory, starts scorching its rival's operations, and, if a few people get knocked around in the process (figuratively speaking, in this case), hell, that's free enterprise, Mac.
Broward House's team leader for the Broward walk, Will Spencer, says the agency's team is contracted to receive up to $10,000 raised by its own teams. "Broward certainly deserves its own walk the same as Miami does," Spencer contends. But he concedes that there's some justifiable apprehension on the part of Care Resource. "I think they have the most legitimate reason for concern because they [AHF] now run a walk that's viewed as competitive," Spencer says. "But at the end of the day, you have to look at it like this: Helping one group helps the whole group."
Well, we'll see about that. As Deep Throat might have put it, "Follow the money." If the AHF money leaves Broward County in a substantial way, we'll know that the spirit of Al Capone is alive in Broward County.
In an alarming front-page story last week, the Sun-Sentinel documented how a panel of "Las Vegas oddsmakers, a tarot card reader, and a psychic" projected 2-to-1 odds that a monster hurricane would pummel South Florida this year.
But what about that sidebar that Sun-Sentinel brass decided to pull at the last minute? Tailpipe has obtained a copy of the unpublished sidebar, which, as an urgent public service, we reproduce here:
HURRICANE DOs and DON'Ts
Stock up on water and candles.
Call FPL as soon as power goes out.
Plan to go out of town Friday, October 13, 2006.
Place garlic and upturned horseshoes at four corners of your roof.
Go into a bathroom, turn off the light, look in the mirror, and say the storm's name five times.
Stand near an uncovered window.