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11/6/2008

Columns > Happytown

HAPPYTOWN

 

The thing about publishing a weekly newspaper is that, when it comes to elections, you’re inevitably behind the curve. Consequently, any bits of election-related news we picked up in the last week are already dated. So we’d like to belatedly note that (soon to be former?) U.S. Rep. Ric Keller totally ripped us off.

Two years ago, just before the last election, we ran a cover story called “Ric Keller’s Greatest Hits,” which featured a litany of Keller’s quotes and votes in office. And we superimposed Ric’s face on a bunch of famous album covers, including Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall and Elvis Presley’s Jailhouse Rock EP. We’re so clever.

Keller thought so too. This past week, we received a mailer from his campaign titled “Alan Grayson’s Greatest Hits,” featuring a goateed Grayson’s face superimposed on Elvis Presley’s body. Where could Keller have dreamt that up?

The mailer itself is pretty funny, in a petulant, snarky, kinda way, which we’re OK with. We just wish the congressman would give credit where credit is due. After all, he is (was?) on the House subcommittee that oversees copyright laws.

This week in the gay, we received word that the Center – worrywart capital of queer “concerns” on Mills Avenue – was going through some changes.

First of all, they elected a corps of new board officers (including Mark Cady and excluding current Weekly staff writer Deanna Morey) to essentially argue their way through Robert’s Rules of Gay Order and never get anything done. More impressively, though, they’ve graduated from calling themselves “the Center” to the ridiculously cumbersome “the Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Transgender Community Center,” because that rolls right off the tongue and will never fit on a sign.

But this new inclusiveness isn’t all that it seems. The past few months have seen an e-mailed war of words between everybody gay that matters regarding the future status of the Orlando Youth Alliance, the gay and lesbian support group for the kids. That group used to meet at The (GLBTTGLBLT … whatever) Center, and was under some big gay negotiations to gain exclusivity to the building’s second floor. Why? Turns out that scattered among the other groups populating the fellowship hall were some unsavory types; not the kind of people you want impressionable kids to be rubbing up against in the hallway.

Long story short – and believe us, this is a long story especially when delivered with gay inflections – the OYA was asked to blow $40,000 for renovations on the building, even though the building’s future is uncertain; a balloon payment of almost $400,000 is due in about a year, or else the building will be sold.

Sadly, negotiations fell through and now Orlando Youth Alliance is hoping for a “Home by the Holidays” – that’s their campaign name. “There’s no sour grapes,” says OYA board member John Sullivan. “We’re moving on.”

Orlando: The first person ever convicted under a law that makes it illegal for Americans to commit acts of torture abroad is one of our very own! Someone alert the convention and visitor’s bureau.

Charles McArthur Emmanuel, 31, son of deposed Liberian leader Charles Taylor, was found guilty of conspiracy, torture and firearms violations in Miami Oct. 30 for his role in running a goon squad that protected his father from political opponents. He’s looking at life in prison, though he won’t be sentenced until next year.

Charles Taylor, Emmanuel’s father, is currently on trial in front of a United Nations Tribunal in the Hague, Netherlands for war crimes after allegedly overseeing the murder and rape of thousands during Sierra Leon’s civil war. Nice family.

Prosecutors say Emmanuel, aka Chuckie Taylor, was in charge of the Demon Forces, a group of dudes who got things done via techniques like beating, scorching and beheading folks they didn’t agree with. His trial was in Miami because he was charged with passport fraud there in 2006, but he’s an alum of our very own Evans High School.

Is our buddy Doug Guetzloe in the clear? The anti-tax zealot, you’ll recall, got in a bit of hot water a few years back when he sent out a political mailer to Winter Park residents without the legally necessary disclaimers. State attorney Lawson Lamar filed 14 charges against Guetzloe, and in November 2006 the gadfly pleaded no contest to all of those charges, saying he would appeal the constitutionality of the laws under which he was being prosecuted.

Gueztloe was sentenced to two months in the county slammer. On March 28, he got some good news – a state appellate court tossed 13 of the 14 counts against him, and ordered that Guetzloe be re-sentenced.

In the meantime, Guetzloe seems to think he’s received an assist from a federal district court judge. According to an e-mail Guetzloe blasted Oct. 30, Judge Stephan Mickle has issued a temporary injunction forbidding the Florida secretary of state from enforcing the state’s election communication laws – which, Guetzloe says, includes the one Lawson used to charge him. In that ruling, issued Oct. 29 in a different case, Mickle writes of the electioneering statute, “The definition of electioneering communication is also unconstitutionally vague because it is impossible to know – in advance – whether the law will apply to a particular communication about candidates.”

So long as the speech isn’t advocating for or against a candidate specifically, Mickle says the law is unconstitutional. Guetzloe’s lawyer, Fred O’Neal, has argued that the ruling prohibits the state attorney from continuing the prosecution.

The state attorney’s office disagrees. “In our case, the only thing pending is sentencing,” says spokesman Randy Means. “The conviction is over with.” He says the state attorney general’s office is reviewing Mickle’s ruling to see if it applies.

In the meantime, Guetzloe has delayed his re-sentencing by asking the judge in the case to recuse himself.

happytown@orlandoweekly.com
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