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8/21/2008

Columns > Happytown

HAPPYTOWN

 

Tuesday is Election Day, and you know what that means. You have so many questions: Is Ric Keller actually as porcine as he looks on TV? Is Gary Siplin seriously calling someone else dishonest? Why is Clint Curtis on the ballot instead of in a padded room? (Answers: Yes, yes and good question.)

We’re here to help. What follows is Happytown™’s suggestions for how to cast your ballot. Ignore them at your peril.

Congressional District 8, Republicans: Ric Keller hasn’t had a thought not dictated by his Republican overlords in forever. Vote for Todd Long.

Congressional District 8, Democrats: Lots of choices here, but the important thing is beating Ric Keller when Long fails to get the job done. Charlie Stuart had his chance two years and blew it, so let’s go with Alan Grayson. He shaved the beard, and he’s a lot smarter than Ricky Boy.

Congressional District 24, Republicans: Whatever. Tom Feeney’s going to win anyway, even though he’s a scuzzy far-right ideologue.

Congressional District 24, Democrats: Suzanne Kosmas isn’t crazy, and that makes her a better choice than Clint Curtis.

Orange County Commission, District 1: Shannon Gravitte spent years playing lackey to Bill McCollum, and that makes her scum by proxy. Vote for someone else.

Orange County Sheriff, Republicans: Kevin Beary is almost gone. John Tegg would do much better.

Orange County Sheriff, Democrats: The idea of Jerry Demings becoming Orange County Sheriff while his wife Val runs the Orlando Police Department makes us queasy. On the other hand, Malone Stewart was Beary’s right-hand man for too long; Demings it is.

Orange County Tax Collector, Democrats: There’s a good argument to be made that Earl K. Wood, 146, should probably just step down. But if the man wants to leave his office of 40 years in a pine box, who are we to tell him no?

State Senate District 19, Democrats: Last but not least … no, actually this one is least: Gary Siplin versus Maurice “Doc” Woodard. Woodard, as the ad nauseam campaign ads say, was a Republican until last year and misled people about it, and that’s bad. But the idea that Gary-freaking-Siplin is trying to paint himself as the Honest Candidate makes our head spin. More importantly, though, we can’t recall Siplin doing anything of importance for his district. Time to give someone else a go.

Speaking of John Tegg’s campaign for Orange County Sheriff, there was a suspicion that things weren’t looking so good for the Republican. “Unnamed sources” had called foul on Tegg, claiming that he was in violation of the you-can’t-run-for-office-when-you’re-in-charge-of-government-money Hatch Act, which is serious in a federal-investigation way.

Word from Tegg’s camp was that it was no big deal and that Tegg would be giving up his conflict-of-interest post as Edgewood police chief in order to pound the pavement full-time, so there. Move along.

Since then, our inbox has blown up with Tegg-errific Tegg-stimonials detailing his endorsements (Attorney General Bill McCollum and State Rep. Dean Cannon among them), his mingle victories (the West Orange Chamber of Commerce Hobnob, y’all) and his timely exit from Edgewood office, all adding up to the sweet smell of Boss Hogg inevitability.

Well, on Monday local attorney John Chandler Ross filed a lawsuit to disqualify Tegg as a candidate. He says that Edgewood’s police department received $22,200 in federal money for the 2006-2007 fiscal year and $35,388 for 2007-2008. He says that Tegg should have been forced to resign on or before June 16, according to Florida’s “Resign to Run” law, and that everything he did after that date violates the Hatch Act.

Ross claims he’s just doing this for himself and that he might look into becoming a full-time government watchdog in the future, meaning he is not part of a competing campaign.

Stockton Reeves, a paid consultant and spokesman for Tegg, says that Tegg’s attorney has already cleared the campaign through the Division of Elections in Tallahassee – although they are waiting on the judgment in writing – and that the Hatch Act doesn’t really have anything to do with qualifying to run; it’s more of a guideline for what you need to do when you are running.

From the update desk: The Innocence Project of Florida is pissed that assistant Brevard County state attorney Wayne Holmes has been questioning the decision to test only a T-shirt for DNA in the Bill Dillon case, and then saying it doesn’t prove his innocence. (Dillon has been in prison for 27 years for a gruesome killing, though tests released two weeks ago show his DNA was not on the state’s key evidence, a bloody T-shirt.)

It wasn’t surprising, really. The state is loath to admit it’s made any mistakes over the years, even though the conviction came following testimony from a half-blind witness, a jailhouse snitch, a recanting girlfriend who had sex with the lead investigator, and a sniffer dog and his handler found to be frauds. There is other physical evidence that could have been tested, but the state apparently doesn’t know where it is.

“I got a letter from [Holmes] three weeks ago stating they don’t know where the other evidence is,” says Seth Miller, executive director for the Innocence Project of Florida. “They can’t find it to test. It’s kind of ridiculous.”

Pride, O-Town: Breathe it in.

Orlando’s Broken Speech poetry slam team has taken 40th place out of 76 teams at the National Poetry Slam in Madison, Wis.

If you’re not aware, poetry is not what your granddaddy uses to temper his PTSD from old war wounds. It is a knock-down, drag-out, bloody battle for audience (and thus God’s) approval. And if that is so, then our team puts us … right where the rest of the country puts us anyway.

But this success (yes, genuinely, success) was marked by a series of irregularities. First a team member was hospitalized with pneumonia. Then came a string of teammates dropping out, being replaced and then their replacements dropping out. Then came the emergency slam-off. The biggest component of qualification: being able to pay your own way! This is how they acquired two teammates from Tampa, which sent no team this year. Then one of them dropped out, and someone else from Tampa jumped in.

In the end, the team consisted of Curtis Meyer, Ronin, Sania Thomas and Reggie Eldridge.

Add to this the pall that was cast by the news of the passing of former competitive poet David Campbell, aka Strat. The team got the news on the first day of competition. Strat, 26, who once reportedly performed a five-hour freestyle session, was a good friend of the team for many years.

But still, 40th place. They beat almost as many teams as they lost to.

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