HAPPYTOWN 


From the updates desk comes this item about Bill Dillon, the guy who has spent the last 26 years in prison for a gory 1981 murder despite a very shaky case against him (see “26 Years,” Oct. 11):

Four months ago, a judge granted Dillon a DNA test on some of the evidence used to convict him. But the order was never signed and sent because prosecutors have been arguing about what should and shouldn’t be tested. Now Brevard County Circuit Judge David Dugan has had enough of the state’s antics.

On Nov. 5, after a lengthy hearing, Dugan ordered that the defense be allowed to test any of the evidence for any types of bodily fluids. Items to be tested include a blood-soaked T-shirt, a flip-flop, cigarette butts and the victim’s pubic hairs. The order will be signed as soon as the state removes its objections to testing the shirt. We’ll wait to see if these idiots can even strike the relevant paragraph and turn it in by the holidays.

“[The prosecutors] said we could test anything as long as we don’t risk overturning the conviction,” laughs Richard Junnier, a consultant for the Florida Innocence Project, which spearheaded the move for DNA testing.

We’d be laughing too, if it weren’t so true.

It’s here! It’s here! It’s finally here!

Nov. 7 was IKEA’s press luncheon to pimp the opening of a local branch of the lifestyle megachain. Upon gaining access to the 309,000-square-foot blue-and-yellow megalith sited on a Mall at Millenia outparcel, media reps were greeted by stacks of cheap wineglasses and piles of cheery Scandinavian textiles on thinly veneered faux-walnut sideboards. After an escalator ride and a quick stumble through the maze of room settings, Happytown™ joined the awkward pileup of local newsers eyeing a lavish smorgasbord while photogs snapped away. Soon enough, we were filling plates (six different kinds of herring and prawns with beady eyes were snubbed, though the salmon proved popular).

Happytown™ considered taking a Ziploc and slacker-stashing some meatballs and lingonberries, but desisted because Happytown™ is a model of grace and decorum. (Also, we were intimidated by the brass-buttoned navy blazer and Thurston Howell–like aura of Orlando magazine publisher Jim Clark.)

Store manager Michael La Cour speechified in a cute Danish accent about IKEA’s world domination ($28 billion in sales and 522 million shoppers last year, only major U.S. retailer with an in-store recycling program for compact fluorescent light bulbs, yada yada). From another IKEA operative, HT™ learned that IKEA U.S. serves 200,000 pounds of salmon and 75 million meatballs a year.

Then we learned that at the Nov. 14 public opening, La Cour and Mayor Buddy Dyer will welcome Orlando to the IKEA fold with a “traditional Swedish log-sawing.” The mind reels.

Credit where credit is due: Local 6’s Tony Pipitone knocked one out of the park Nov. 6, when he reported on an airport concession contractor with ties to Orlando city commissioner Daisy Lynum’s friend Inez Long, whose husband, Fitzhugh Long, just so happens to be Orange County’s business development manager. (Isn’t it funny how government shenanigans seem to coincide with television sweeps periods?)

The story focused on Tyrone Nabbie, the so-called “King of Concession Contracts,” racking up millions of dollars in contracts to sell food at the airport, Orlando venues, county jails and state facilities. The problem is that one such company of which Nabbie is a part owner and manager has paid more than $100,000 to a bottled-water company owned by Inez Long. Since Inez Long’s husband is Orange County’s business development manager, he gets a big say in who gets contracts. It’s all very incestuous, especially when the county is considering throwing a 10-year, $300 million contract to Nabbie’s business partner to sell food at the Orange County Convention Center.

Meanwhile, the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority is auditing another Nabbie-controlled company that sells food at Orlando International Airport after that company misstated its profits, which is a big deal because the contract requires the company to pay GOAA 15 percent of whatever it makes.

Orange County did the only responsible thing it could (although a little foresight wouldn’t be a terrible thing). The county removed Fitzhugh Long from the evaluation process for the county contract. “I think it’s appropriate [Long] and his staff be suspended from any involvement in this process until we get this investigation finished,” Mayor Rich Crotty told Pipitone. Sounds reasonable, right?

Not if you’re Daisy Lynum. On Nov. 7, she fired off an e-mail rant to Crotty (gotta love public records) accusing him of contributing to a “high tech lynching” of prominent black leaders. “Do not perpetuate this type of slanderous, divisive, inflammatory reporting,” Lynum wrote. “Do not continue this attack on your staff internally. This type of reporting and internal attacks creates distrust and divisiveness within our community.”

In other words, leave her friends alone. We should mention that we’ve reported frequently on the circumstances under which Lynum’s friends, Inez Long included, seem to find themselves on the happy end of government largesse. Welcome to the party, Tony!

So we went out to do some serious drunken elbow-rubbing with Orlando’s elite and the politicians that incentivize them the evening of Nov. 7 – don’t laugh, we were invited – and you know what? We’re really good at being drunk. The glitzy rooftop party for the second annual Orlando Film Festival came with all of the fake-paparazzi red-carpet nonsense one would expect (and a creepy walkway of unrolled film rattling menacingly in the cold wind) and featured plenty of ridiculous conversation, some even with us.

“What, are you afraid to come over and talk to me?” Hizzoner Buddy Dyer chided.

“Uh, it’s just that you’re on the cover of the Weekly this week, and …,” we shuffled our feet.

“Ha! I haven’t read the Weekly in months!”

Amid all the boosterism and “free movies!” blah-blah, we were able to cull one ridiculous quote from the svelte Sir Dyer. While speaking of our “sister city” in Spain and their much more established film festival, Buddy blurted out this winner: “They’re 52 years old and we’re 2 years old. I think that’s a pretty good marriage!” Filthy!

From the gay gossip desk comes this item: After a rocky road of shady dealings and shaky decor, the queer hole formerly known as Southern Nights and the Place to Get Coke From is reopening under a new name, “Revolution,” this Thursday night. And the place has super-secret new gay owners who are reportedly “trendy and innovative” in a gay Miami kind of way. We’re told the old show bar is back (renamed the “Majestic Theater and Lounge”), there’s a new “Hydrate Video Bar,” some of the old management is back (Dan Fraser returns after a “six-year sabbatical”), and everything should be fantastic again soon. Poppers all around!

This week’s report by Jeffrey C. Billman, Billy Manes, Deanna Sheffield and Jessica Bryce Young.

happytown@orlandoweekly.com

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