Is Charlie Crist gay? No, of course not. He's a Republican candidate for governor. In Florida. Republicans don't elect Marys in this state. They won't even elect those suspected of Maryhood; go ask U.S. Rep. Mark Foley, whose 2004 United States Senate campaign was derailed by a report that he was a flamer.

Sure, Charlie's a hot 50-year-old bachelor with well-coifed silver hair and a fondness for nicely tailored suits. But he just survived a primary against a fundie who premised his whole campaign on the notion that Charlie doesn't hate gay people (or abortion) enough. You'd think if Tom Gallagher had something to say, he would have said it. Instead, a week before the primary Crist denied that he had fathered a love child.

Now, these rumors have been floating around for a while. We at Happytown™ have heard them for years, always off the record, always passed along as gossip. We'd guess that every reporter in the state has heard them, but as yet no one's produced any proof, much less a picture of Crist having a Brokeback encounter with the pool boy.

Enter Max Linn, gubernatorial candidate for what's left of the Reform Party. While on anchorman-turned-right-wing-nutball Bud Hedinger's radio show (3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on WFLA-AM 540) last week, Linn told the flabbergasted host that he knew, and would swear on a stack of Bibles, that Crist was gay. The two have been friends for 25 years, Linn said, and Charlie had confided in him. Of course it goes without saying that Linn could have ulterior motives for this revelation, given the timing and all. But honestly, the best he could possibly hope for by dumping on his "friend" is to become a spoiler and clear the road to victory for Democrat Jim Davis.

Linn repeated the charges to Happytown™. "He knows that I know that he's gay because it's been discussed," he says. Linn says he didn't plan to out Crist on Hedinger's show; it just came up. "My comment was not planned out or pre-meditated. Charlie is a good guy. I think he needs to be truthful with the American people and himself."

It was all a bit too much for Hedinger. Crist is a Republican, which in Hedinger-land means he's to be supported, no questions asked … unless he's a ponce. It's enough to make a right-wing pundit's head explode.

Thus, Hedinger pointed out time and again that there's no proof Charlie's a pansy. And he was right to. But this is a pressing question, and one Happytown™ is determined to answer to the best of its ability (as Crist's campaign declined to comment).

So, we dusted off the Happytown™ Gaydar Sensor™ (otherwise known as the B-MANES 3000) and ran some of Crist's stats through it. The results:


Quote o’ the Week

‘I smell a rat! Are they the Orlando Magic or are they the Orange County Cheap Trick? I’m sick of cheap tricks. … We are playing a lot of games here, and it’s not basketball!’

-Commissioner Patty Sheehan

* Running mate has a mustache: GAY

* Has high cheekbones: GAY

* Prefers tailored suits: GAY

* Has Anderson Cooper hair: GAY

* Is down with civil unions: GAY

* Dots "I"s with stars on website: GAY

We report, you decide.

Who's ready for more talk about sports stadiums? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? … That's what we thought. Nevertheless, Orange County commissioners are still up to their ears in jargon about how much revenue Buddy Dyer's $1.1 billion trifecta of public works projects (renovated Citrus Bowl, new arena and performing arts center) could generate. The latest presentation came Sept. 19, courtesy of Bill Rhoda of the consulting firm Convention Sports and Leisure International, which the Metro-Orlando Economic Development Commission hired to cheerlead these taxpayer-funded megaliths through.

Rhoda's presentation was a dud, perhaps because we'd heard it all before; or perhaps because he's a dull public speaker. His PowerPoints were illegible on the big screen, and he accidentally called both Las Vegas and Charlotte "Orlando" at one point; apropos of what, we're not sure. Plus, it was a bit boring, we have to say.

Murder Watch

No. 38: Litherio Blunt, died Sept. 13: Blunt, 19, was confronted by unknown assailants as he left a convenience store in the 5500 block of North Orange Blossom Trail shortly after 6 p.m. The two suspects, black men estimated to be 25 years old, shot him several times and killed him.

No. 39: Muffery Clercien, died Sept. 15: Orlando cops responded Sept. 12 to a double shooting in the 800 block of Colyer Street. By Sept. 15, Clercien, one of the victims, had died as a result of his injuries. Police believe that robbery was the motive. The city shattered the previous homicide record of 36, set in 1982, in August.

But the meeting wasn't a total waste of time. A senior county source gave us a good rundown on where this all stands: The city and county are $200 million short of the money they need for all the projects. The city and county are also fighting over who's going to assume the financial risk for these projects: The city wants the county to do it; the county has flatly refused. The county wants the city to sunset its downtown Community Redevelopment Agency as part of the package, but that's a revenue stream the city is loath to abandon.

As for the Citrus Bowl, the county did at least consider what everyone thinks is the most obvious course of action: Giving the University of Central Florida money to expand the on-campus stadium it's building. But UCF wanted none of it, our source says. And then there's the arena, which increasingly sounds like it's headed to Touristan, despite the Orlando City Council's kvetching. See, developer Marc Watson has apparently arranged a pretty sweet deal for both the Magic and the county, and since the county controls the tourist-tax purse strings, the city doesn't get a vote.

From the updates desk, we've learned that Winter Park's only strip club is mad as hell and it's not going to take it anymore.

Club Harem attorney Steve Mason filed a federal lawsuit Sept. 14 challenging Winter Park's adult entertainment code, specifically the part that would allow the city to shut the club down. Winter Park cops made shuttering the boob-shaped booby bar a goal last year, even before finishing an investigation into alleged wrongdoing there (see "Run 'em out of town," Sept. 14).

According to Mason's lawsuit, Winter Park's code assumes guilt immediately, before the club has a chance to fight it out in court. Moreover, the lawsuit says, Winter Park's adult entertainment ordinance doesn't "require Winter Park to shoulder the burden of establishing by clear and convincing evidence that the owner of the adult establishment was personally or culpably responsible (legally speaking) for the conduct (‘violation') which forms the basis for the license suspension/revocation."

Previously, Mason has charged that Winter Park targeted Club Harem because it's the high-toned city's only adult club. Winter Park cops have denied that charge. More updates as they develop.

This week's report by Jeffrey C. Billman, Jonathan Cunningham and Billy Manes.

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