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10/7/2009

Columns > Happytown

Happytown

 

After 20 successful years, there are things that you expect from Hope and Help Center of Central Florida’s annual black-tie HIV/AIDS fundraiser, the Headdress Ball. This year’s festivities took place Oct. 3 at the brand-spankin’-new Hilton Orlando, adjacent to the Orange County Convention Center, and had a “Red Carpet, Red Ribbon, Red Lipstick” theme that was most effectively elucidated by the presence of little plastic lipstick tubes at each table setting; they weren’t lipstick at all, but pens! Genius!

By all accounts, this year’s production was a sparkling, heads-on-fire success, roping in more than $250,000, according to preliminary estimates, from close to 1,000 participants. Performances from gay-leaning luminaries punctuated a night filled with joyously awkward moments like attorney John Morgan stuffing money down a go-go boy’s skivvies (for the people … and charity!) and some kind of crazy video feed from Carrot Top in Las Vegas. There were gowns and ties, kilts and Rolex auctions, public figures and moneyed elites, drinks and drinks and giant arts-and-crafts experiments teetering on people’s heads. All the things you’d expect.

What wasn’t expected was a temper tantrum from an elected city official directed at Weekly staffer Billy Manes and the paper itself.

Manes was invited to the event at the last minute by his friend and former campaign manager, Dave Plotkin. He wasn’t there to report, just to have a good time. And all was well, until he realized his table was adjacent to one at which Orlando city commissioners Patty Sheehan and Daisy Lynum were seated.

The trouble started right away.

“No, no, no, no, no!” Sheehan said loudly in the direction of Manes.

What followed was a series of unfortunate events overheard by pretty much everybody in the immediate vicinity. Sheehan told Susannah Randolph, the wife of state Rep. Scott Randolph – both of whom were seated at the table with Manes – that if Manes wrote anything about her or Lynum’s presence at the event, there could be physical repercussions for both him and Susannah Randolph. Sheehan went on to boast that she could bring in substantially more votes for Randolph’s campaign than the Weekly and made an off-color remark about Manes sodomizing him “over a table.”

It was an uncomfortable mess for all involved, but not a wholly unpredictable one. Sheehan for years has had varying levels of composure at public events. She blows up. Some consider that evidence of her convictions, but this was different.

About an hour after her initial contact with the table – and while a performance was in progress on the stage – Sheehan came over, squatted down face-to-face with Manes and unloaded.

“You need to respect me. You need to show me respect,” she said, adding that the Weekly has specifically gone after her unfairly and continuously.

By way of context, we note that Sheehan does not like the Weekly for a number of reasons, key among them an opinion piece written by editor Bob Whitby ( “Time to go,” May 31, 2007) suggesting that she had turned from neighborhood activist to council yes-woman and needed to be replaced. She also feels that the paper recorded a conversation with her illegally while researching a story about a shooting in her district (“Unhappy New Year,” March 15, 2007).

Sheehan’s vitriol continued for about five minutes, during which she ordered us not to write about her or Lynum ever again, and then, with a raised voice, said, “Leave me alone!” That makes her the first person we can recall to launch an abusive diatribe and then demand to be left alone, but let’s stay on point.

“I am not a mean person, but I am not a weak person either,” she said. “You can write about this, but you have to tell the whole story.”

Thanks for your permission, commissioner.

Plotkin complained about Sheehan’s behavior to her Orlando Police Department police liaison, Jim Young, telling him that Sheehan had been inappropriate and even threatening. Subsequently Young, Sheehan’s assistant, Chase Smith, and her girlfriend, Jocelyn White, apologized to the table for her behavior. “I’m so sorry,” White said. “She’s had too much to drink, and I don’t think she knows what she’s saying. Our whole table is mortified.”

Sheehan offered no apologies.

Curious as to whether or not the city sanctions such boorish behavior by its elected officials, we contacted city spokeswoman Heather Allebaugh Oct. 5. Allebaugh says the mayor typically does not get involved with this kind of situation because commissioners are independently elected by the public. In other words, public officials are held accountable by the people who elect them. Let’s hope so.

Did histrionic Fox News Channel crybaby Glenn Beck rape and murder a young girl in 1990? There is no evidence to suggest he didn’t. And Beck has suddenly lawyered up and is not talking. Why won’t he just come out and say he didn’t do it?

OK, see what we did there? We took a completely unsubstantiated statement and noted (correctly) that there is no evidence to prove it false, thereby implying that it could in fact be true. It’s a play right out of Beck’s own book, and it’s being used against him via a wildly popular Internet meme right now. Go to www.glennbeckrapedand murderedayounggirlin1990.com and see all the “evidence” for yourself.

The site is a parody, as it states plainly in big letters right at the top. But it’s come to the attention of the man who may have raped and murdered a young girl in 1990 himself. And he’s not pleased, so he has taken legal action to shut it down.

Attorney Marc Randazza, formerly of Altamonte Springs but now working out of Miami, California and Massachusetts, is handling the defense for site owner Isaac Eiland-Hall. Randazza, you may recall, was previously cited in these pages as the attorney who went up against the federal government in defense of the word “fuck” (“The F-bomb,” June 7, 2007).

The Beck site started when Eiland-Hall noticed the similarity between Beck’s tactics and a joke comedian Gilbert Gottfried used during a Comedy Central roast of fellow comedian Bob Saget last year. Gottfried repeatedly shouted that it wasn’t true Saget “raped and killed a girl in 1990!” and admonished the audience to stop saying otherwise. It was pretty damn funny, actually.

Eiland-Hall thought so too, and posted a question on Fark.com: “Why haven’t we had an official response to the rumor that Glenn Beck raped and murdered a girl in 1990?” It snowballed from there, and soon he had his own website.

“Of course there’s nothing funny about raping and murdering somebody, unless you can tie it to Gilbert Gottfried,” says Randazza.

Last month, Beck filed an administrative complaint with the Swiss organization that handles Internet domain name disputes asking that the site be taken down because it infringes on his trademark, “Glenn Beck.” Randazza believes Beck went that route because there is no way he’d get a United States court to shut the site down as it’s clearly a parody, and Eiland-Hall is within his rights. “[Beck’s] got good lawyers,” he says. “I’m very impressed with his attorneys. He’s got to know if he tried to file it in U.S. courts he would have gotten creamed.”

Still, the question remains: Did Glenn Beck rape and kill and young girl in 1990? He’s not talking.

happytown@orlandoweekly.com
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