Neighborhood newsletters are generally innocuous throwaways that put lost cats and recent home sales on the front page. Tailpipe likes to keep one around just to wrap his leftover soot in. But Steve Kelley's monthly rags are different. The Fort Lauderdale entrepreneur publishes 13 neighborhood or civic association newsletters throughout America's Venice, including newsletters for Middle River Terrace, Lake Ridge, Poinsettia Heights, and Seven Isles neighborhoods.
Recently, Kelley has been using his newsletters to hurl mudballs at long-time Mayor Jim Naugle. Kelley's June article -- titled "Violent Crime Up 42% in Fort Lauderdale" and published in newsletters throughout Fort Lauderdale -- faults Naugle for underfunding the Police Department, leading to a rise in crime. Accompanying the article is a cartoon (see below) showing the mayor yelling: "[Fuck] Cops!"
"None of the newspapers around here, not even you guys, have taken Naugle to task," Kelley tells the 'Pipe.
Kelley says he will continue to criticize Naugle in his newsletters until the next mayoral election in March. The politicization of his neighborhood rags has received mixed results, he admits. A few people asked to be taken off the mailing list, Kelley says. "And one woman proposed marriage to me," he adds.
Naugle brushes off the attacks, noting that Kelley was the webmaster for Tim Smith, his last political opponent. "It's crap," the mayor says. "It's a way to campaign against me without having to report contributions to any candidate."
Well, sure, Kelley acknowledges; he supports Naugle's next opponent, political operative Dan Lewis. But the articles have nothing to do with Lewis, he says. He just wants voters to boot Naugle out of City Hall, no matter the successor. "People have had it with this little dweeb," Kelley says.
Tailpipe, for its part, looks forward to another high-minded mayoral campaign in Fort Lauderdale.
Tailpipe likes to stand shoulder to shoulder with the workers, those who put in a hard, thankless day's work to keep society's wheels turning. Consider Mistress Poison, who provides needy Fort Lauderdale masochists with an array of services, like nipple torture, slave deprivation, humiliation, boot worship, trampling, and sissy training, to say nothing of the standard corporal disciplines (canes, paddles, whips, and hand spankings). For her efforts, Mistress P. gets hassled by law enforcement authorities ("Flagellation is against the law in Florida," she notes), stigmatized by social service agencies, and dissed by teenaged amateurs.
Like you and the 'Pipe, Poison has needs. Things like dominatrix clothing. A lot of cows had to die to keep Poison's closets full. And, let's face it, it's not enough. On her website, she keeps a "wish list" of items she needs. Patent-leather crotch-high boots, a latex straitjacket, and a leather body bag, for example.
Tailpipe caught up with her last week to offer solidarity:
Poison: I'm a real person, and I do live in a residential area. I've got to be real careful. I really don't need a trip to jail. This is my only job. Every bit of money I make, I pretty much dump it back into what I do.
Tailpipe: How long have you been at it?
Poison: Almost 13 years.
Tailpipe: And how's business?
Poison: It's actually getting slow here because all these other people keep popping up out of nowhere who are half my age and charge a lot less than I do. I'll be 40 in July. You know, the 18- to 19-year-olds who just go buy the clothes, 'cause it's so fashionable right now.
Tailpipe: What are the risks?
Poison: I have an ex-husband who lives in Tallahassee and has custody of my kid because of what I do. And my kid actually found my website somehow on line.
Tailpipe: Do people have misconceptions about what a dominatrix does?
Poison: Yes, and it's important people understand. It's not freaky, sick, or twisted, like people think. I mean, we're all perverts at some point or another.
Tailpipe: So, you actually have a role in helping people?
Poison: I'm kind of like a therapist in a way.
Let this woman do her job, people.
Airport from Nowhere
"I get along with everyone that's not a moron," Mike Szatmary declares from one of the well-worn offices in the hangar that's home to his business, Broward Aviation. The general target of his ire is Broward County red tape and benign neglect at North Perry Airport in Pembroke Pines, where he runs a flight school and general aviation business.
In particular, he's incensed over the county's threat to evict him for not acquiring insurance for gas spills -- insurance that neighboring companies don't even carry.
For the past year, Szatmary has been negotiating a permanent lease for the county-owned property that houses his business, but it's been an operation in futility. Why? "I can only make assumptions," he says. "I'm new here. I've only been at this airport for 40 years. I've been in here" -- he sweeps his arm to indicate the hangar -- "1212 years with a temporary lease."
Szatmary is a bulldog of a man with stubbly gray whiskers, a rapier sense of humor, and a blunt demeanor. "This place is a pigsty," he pronounces during a short tour of the hangar. "I mean, it's a dump, and I don't like that." Two giant sliding doors have blown off twice, two others have been jury-rigged together with angle iron, and the rafters have been beset by termites for years.
The sadly amusing part, he points out, is that county bureaucrats seem to have done all they can to keep him from sinking almost $1 million of his money into their property.
"If I'm telling you that I'm going to make a $900,000 investment in your property, you should kiss me on the mouth, right?" he barks. Instead, he's gone through a yearlong "nightmare" with the aviation department, which dragged its feet in surveying and reappraising the property. That kept Szatmary from moving ahead with contractors and lenders.
The latest blow came last month, when the county informed him that he'd need "environmental impairment liability insurance," which is basically to cover large spills from the 600-gallon truck he uses to fuel his airplanes. That runs about $7,000 to $10,000 a year -- if he can even get it. (The County Commission approved a 20-year lease last week, but it prohibits the company from fueling its own planes without the insurance.)
The fundamental problem, Szatmary declares, is that North Perry Airport is an ugly stepchild when measured against sexy Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International and Fort Lauderdale Executive airports. Aviation department director Tom Jargiello, is a good guy, Szatmary says, "But he doesn't want to be involved in North Perry because it's North Perry. It's a boil on his butt." (Jargiello did not respond to messages.)
In 2001, the national Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association held a convention in Fort Lauderdale that more than 5,000 pilots attended. Hundreds came by small planes. "You know how many came to Perry?" Szatmary asks rhetorically. "Twenty. They all went to Lauderdale International and Executive Airport instead of here. This airport was not advertised at all in AOPA publications.
"My opinion?" he offers. "Nobody cares about this airport. I'm the only idiot who does."
Don't Say Miracle
After Lake Worth Police pulled an 8-year-old girl out of a trash bin, where she had been buried alive, it was easy to call it a miracle. In fact, after the May 22 rescue, the cops set up a fund for her called the Miracle Child of Lake Worth.
If only they had understood Spanish. The Fidelity Federal fund's name has a ghoulish ring because the man police say tried to rape and murder the girl goes by the name Milagro. In Spanish, amigos, that means miracle. Milagro Cunningham now faces charges of attempted murder, sexual battery, and false imprisonment.
Meanwhile, police are trying to downplay the gaffe. "Yeah, you're about the third or fourth person to mention it," says Sgt. Dan Boland of the Lake Worth Police Department. "We didn't realize it at the time." -- As told to Edmund Newton