FDLE's mayoral vote fraud investigation conjures up happy memories 

Did you hear the latest in the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's vote fraud investigation into the 2004 mayoral election? Dean Mosley, the lawyer for Ezzie Thomas – a "consultant" to whom Orlando mayor Buddy Dyer paid $10,000 – announced that his client had been paid to collect absentee ballots, which runs contrary to state and local law. Moreover, Mosley said, Thomas has been doing this since 1998 for all sorts of local candidates, including Glenda Hood and Mel Martinez.

Thomas spilled all this to the FDLE four months ago in exchange for immunity. The investigation won't be complete for another few months, so it's a little too soon to tell if Dyer – or anyone else – will be doing a perp walk for the TV cameras.

But since we're on the subject of last year's mayoral election, Happytown™ would like to mention that two Orlando city commissioners – Ernest Page and Daisy Lynum – appear to be developing memory problems. At least they seemed to be when giving depositions Dec. 10 to lawyers representing Ken Mulvaney and Lawanna Gelzer, runners-up in last year's mayoral and city council races, respectively.

Page, for instance, was asked if he'd ever been convicted of a felony. He replied, correctly, that he was. He just couldn't recall when, or for what.

"You don't remember what you were convicted for?" the lawyer asked in a taped interview.

"The details, I can't recall," Page replied.

Happytown™ is here to help. Page was arrested in 1983 for buying stolen property during an undercover police sting. He spent eight months in the slammer, and had to give up the city council seat he originally won in 1980. But who could be expected to remember such minutiae?

Lynum told a lawyer she'd known Thomas for 29 years, but didn't know what he did for a living. She also couldn't remember if he'd been involved in any political campaigns for cash during the last 29 years, which is odd because Thomas got his start in politics in 1998 working to get Lynum elected to city council, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Lynum also admitted she'd had several conversations with Thomas about the FDLE investigation.

Hey commissioners, the ginkgo biloba is in the mail.

We're very sensitive to the winds of fashion here at Happytown™, and so we'd like to fill you in on the next big thing: Subcomandante Marcos. That's right, the Zapatista insurgent has reached the tipping point and we predict he will soon be seen on the chests of white middle-class college students everywhere – not to mention cozying up to the needlepoint bookmarks of their mystery- loving moms.

Local T-shirt mogul Alex Boeckl, whose Fat American label carries a shirt honoring Marcos, is a big admirer of the professor-turned-guerrilla. "Yeah, he's playful – even though he's militant, he's less militant than Ché."

And if you need proof of Marcos' mischievous side – this is a leader who takes his movement very seriously but himself much less so – consider the recent head-scratching news that late in November 2004, Marcos secretly contacted Mexican novelist Paco Ignacio Taibo II with a proposal to co-author a crime story. "The Awkward Dead" is being published by La Jornada, known as the "most-read Mexican newspaper in the world," in serial form, with the writers alternating chapters. Motorcycle Diaries aside, it's hard to picture Guevara taking the time to read a novel, much less write one.

Most Americans express their politics on their chests, hats and rear bumpers rather than at the polls, so step to the back of the drawer, Guevara; there's a new lefty-Latin icon in the laundry pile.

Happytown™ action alert: The Ringling Bros. Circus is back in town, and with it comes your chance to express your indignation at … something. Local sloth-hugging group ARFF (or, less cleverly, the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida) is getting all riled up Jan. 13 at 6:30 p.m. in front of the TD Waterhouse Centre, where they will stage a protest including photos of dead circus animals. Yes, that does kind of make them the animal equivalent of abortion protesters, but hey, the tactic works.

Happytown™ action alert No. 2: It's hard to believe that a whole year – a devastating election year for women's rights – has gone by since Planned Parenthood of Greater Orlando held its annual commemoration of the passage of Roe v. Wade. Last January, Mayor Buddy Dyer – a longtime supporter of reproductive rights, though he doesn't talk about it much – made a gutsy (for him) appearance, considering the contentious subject matter. And PPGO board president Sally Blackmun, daughter of the late Supreme Court justice Harry Blackmun, who authored the Roe v. Wade decision, made an empowering speech about the Bush administration's evildoing on the issue of "choice." About 50 people attended, most of them over 40, and, in retrospect, the evening was an indicator of the serious lack of understanding in this town about the truth: "Reproductive rights" mean not only safe access to abortion but also to birth control, medical care and other issues that pop up when people have sex, which we all know is wrong and bad but people do it anyway.

Don't beat your head against a wall in frustration. Jan. 20 (5:30 p.m.-7 p.m. at First Unitarian Church, 1901 E. Robinson St.; 407-872-6838; RSVP requested) marks the date for this year's gathering for the 32nd anniversary, and PPGO has invited Betty Castor (who may have lost to Mel Martinez but certainly gained popularity for her toughness) to be the guest speaker. Most importantly, organizations dedicated to reproductive rights will be present to plug attendees into focused efforts to fight the machine. Be there.

So there you have two good options to go out and shout about something. But if getting off your ample rear for good causes is too much for you, then you may be a slacktivist. As such you're probably already aware that in addition to being the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Jan. 20 is also Inauguration Day. It's also "Not One Damn Dime Day," in protest of King George's second coronation. The idea goes like this: Buying nothing that day will show Bush what a terrible president he has been. Yeah, it makes no sense to us either, but it's easy to get involved. Just point your browser to www.notonedamndime.com/boycott and raise hell, you lion, you.



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