The Live Wire is an experiment. Think of it as a cross between a book of hours and a web version of the doors of perception. You contributions are welcome, in the comments or by email.
Today’s Live Wire: Quick Links
- Sunday, 11:35a Royal Palms Turns Into Rescue Landing Zone
- Jimmy Flynt’s Ex-Cop Friends
- Flagler Beach’s Cop Problems
- Scott Leading Sink
- Florida’s New Pill Mill Law
- Orlando’s Half-Billion Dollar Arena Opens
- Undocumented Immigration’s Cure: Lousy Economy
- Stephen Colbert on Immigration
- Canada’s Answer to Sex Tourism
- Nobel Prize Time
- Heidegger Speaks
- Puritans Descend on Sesame Street
- What Facebook Doesn’t Like
- A Few Good Links
Live Wire Rewinds
Just after 11 a.m. this morning (Sunday), a man fell out of a tree in the neighborhood along Royal Palms Parkway near U.S. Route 1. The Palm Coast Fire Department responded and closed the section of Royal Palms from Rickenbacker Drive to U.S. 1, so a rescue helicopter could land, pick up the injured man and fly him to Halifax Hospital. The scene was being cleared around 11:30 a.m. (Thanks to C for calling in the tip.)
Jimmy “I-Run-This-Town” Flynt is the Bunnell city commissioner whose name was all over a State Attorney’s investigative report about fishiness and impropriety at the Bunnell Police Department. Two other names all over that report were those of John and Lisa Murray. John was the police department’s second in command. Lisa was his wife, and a corporal in the department. The two of them were arrested and charged with felonies (tampering with evidence, misconduct and drug charges for him, misconduct for her). Both had been involved in steering towing calls to Flynt’s Saxon Towing company outside the official rotation set up by the sheriff.
Flynt in the investigative report claims, improbably, to have been unaware of the favoritism.
He’s also cited in the report for illegally dumping tires in the city’s dump, at the city’s expense. He’d been given access to the dump in a show of favoritism from the city administration. He’s still a commissioner, but one of the other cops whose name is in the report (as one who cooperated with the state), Frank Gamarra, was fired. Chief Arthur Jones says he had to get rid of one of his two sergeants, so he chose Gamarra. Message to the rest of the department: blow a whistle, get fired. Meanwhile Flagler County Sheriff Don Fleming had bumped Flynt off the three-way towing rotation (a boon for the remaining two: Roger’s Towing and John’s Towing, who now do all the cop-related business), further deepening Flynt’s financial woes (a bank sued for $50,000 he’s defaulted on). He’s been pleading with the sheriff to be put back on the rotation, so far unsuccessfully, but the Bunnell City Commission, which hasn’t addressed the matter once, doubled its own pay to almost $10,000 a year per commissioner. One commissioner’s attempt to get rid of the police department and replace it with a policing contract with the sheriff turned into an orchestrated one-ring circus of chest-beating as Palm Coast friends of the chief trundled in to sing his praises, one after the other, during what should have been a workshop on the proposed merger (when the public doesn’t speak). Mayor Catherine Robinson listed all the damning reports on the police department going back to 2000 and her own attempts, back then, to get things fixed, then she invoked 9/11 and how every town has its police problems. In other words: no big whoop. Vice Mayor Jenny-Crain Brady, did a little chest-thumping of her own, and that was that. Flynt kept tactically quiet, letting others kindly loosen the noose for him.
That’s how things work in Bunnell, where the feel of a 1950s southern town is as prized as corruption. Flagler Beach should thank god for Bunnell every day. As long as Bunnell keeps it up, the follies in Flagler Beach look like European Parliament snoozing out of Brussells.
Back at the ranch, John and Lisa Murray’s car was spotted this week at Jimmy Flynt’s Saxon’s Towing on U.S. 1, a day after Flynt himself was spotted leaving the State Attorney’s office not quite a happy man. That was the same day (Monday) he missed a couple of commission meetings, where commissioners approved their budget, among other things. That the Murrays are hanging out at Flynt’s is not a surprise: they were tight all along. The salient question was whether, as the Murrays were looking to beat the charges against them, they would turn on Flynt and implicate him in the towing scam, in exchange for leniency from the state. A whole lot of pleading must be going on. Don’t be surprised if, in the end, the Murrays are back at work as cops in Bunnell. That, too, is how things work in this town.
- Bunnell Rebuffs Sheriff’s Offer to Provide Law Enforcement at 26% Less Than City’s Costs
- More Trouble for Flynt: Sheriff Ends Tow Ties Permanently; Bank Sues for $50,000
- 2 Bunnell Cops Arrested; Commissioner Flynt Embroiled in Favoritism Allegations
- The Full State Attorney’s Investigative Report
- Timeline: Bunnell Police Department Firings and Resignations, 2005-2010
And then there’s Flagler Beach. Remember Robert Milstead? If you live in Flagler Beach, of course you do: you saw him around town, exercising his badge. In June he was arrested and charged with abuse and battery on an elderly citizen. This is the same Robert Milstead the Flagler Beach Police Department hired even though, when he was a deputy with the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office, Milstead had been investigated by the State Attorney’s office after a brutality incident and his actions were found to have been “most inappropriate and border on criminal behavior.” That investigation ended his days at the sheriff’s office. He went to work at the Holly Hill Police Department, then came back to Flagler Beach, where he’d put in a stint before going to the sheriff’s office. His background check at the Flagler Beach Department was, aside from one incident in Holly Hill, all clear: the officer doing the check did not note the state attorney’s investigation.
This week, Circuit Judge Kim C. Hammond sentenced him to three years’ probation, which means he won’t be a felon if he clears those three years without another blemish. But he’ can’t be a cop again.
- Allegations of Racist Slurs and Excessive Force Land Flagler Beach Police Officer in Jail
- Flagler Beach Hired Police Officer Despite Violent Record
- The Milstead Warrant
From Florida Capital News: “A statewide poll today gives GOP nominee Rick Scott with a 49-43 percent lead over Sink, the Democratic candidate for governor. The Quinnipiac University Poll indicated that voters aren’t very enthusiastic about either candidate, but distaste for Obama seems to be the tie-breaker. Sink’s favorable and unfavorable standing was deadlocked at 39 to 39 percent, while 41 percent of those surveyed had a favorable view of Scott and 40 percent felt unfavorably toward him. However, likely voters disapproved of President Obama by a 56-40 percent margin, and that was dragging down Sink. Scott’s TV ads have tied her closely to the president, showing video clips of her saying his economic plan was good for the country.” The full story.
Don’t get excited: the law is going in effect. Its implementation is not. So nothing changes for now. From the Times-Union: “A Florida law intended to reform pain management clinics and take aim at disreputable “pill mills” takes effect today amid questions about its effectiveness and potential loopholes that problem pain clinics could slip through. The new law is intended to set standards for the kind of care chronic pain patients can expect when visiting a pain management clinic in the state. The reforms were supposed to be paired in short order with a prescription drug monitoring database, slated by law to begin on Dec. 1, but a bid dispute has put a halt to implementation.” […] Reports “are coming in about doctors setting up adjoining but separate pharmacies to skirt the three-day dispensing rule. Pain clinics are amending advertisements that used to proclaim “We have OxyContin” to say “No appointment needed, same-day prescriptions.”” The full story.
- Florida Pill Mills Poisoning the South
- 15 Palm Coast Residents Arrested in Oxycodone Bust; State System to Tackle Abuse Is On Hold
- Prescription Pill-Popping By Far a Leading Killer as Florida’s Drug Deaths Spike 20%
- Contract fight puts drug database on hold
In 2001, what became known as the “Amway Arena” was supposed to cost $250 million. Final cost: $480 million, “the most costly public building in Central Florida history,” according to the Sentinel. “And the price tag could have been even cheaper. After plans for a new arena were shot down, Orlando Mayor Glenda Hood, Orange County Mayor Rich Crotty and the team were close to an agreement to use hotel taxes to renovate the arena for $75 million. A week later, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks put Central Florida tourism into free-fall. The hotel taxes needed for the renovation disappeared. Magic executives never stopped wanting a new arena, arguing that their current home court lacked moneymaking amenities such as lower-bowl luxury suites, restaurants and bars that could improve the team’s bottom line. But there was little support among local politicians, and the team shelved its plans for several years. The Magic’s fortunes changed when Buddy Dyer was elected mayor of Orlando. Dyer had campaigned on rejuvenating downtown, and it didn’t take much to convince him that a new arena would be good for the area. Dyer, in fact, wanted not just a new arena, but a new performing-arts center and upgrades for the aging Florida Citrus Bowl stadium. The strategy to join all three into a single, $1 billion project did more than perhaps anything else to ensure the arena was built. The mantra of “do them all, do them now, do them right” meant that arts boosters couldn’t oppose the arena without dooming the performing-arts center and vice versa.” The full story.
A study that’s not getting enough attention from the Pew Hispanic Center: “The annual inflow of unauthorized immigrants to the United States was nearly two-thirds smaller in the March 2007 to March 2009 period than it had been from March 2000 to March 2005, according to new estimates by the Pew Hispanic Center. This sharp decline has contributed to an overall reduction of 8% in the number of unauthorized immigrants currently living in the U.S.-to 11.1 million in March 2009 from a peak of 12 million in March 2007, according to the estimates. The decrease represents the first significant reversal in the growth of this population over the past two decades. […] the most marked decline in the population of unauthorized immigrants has been among those who come from Latin American countries other than Mexico.”
- The Full Report
- Ten Economic Facts About Immigration
- How to Build a Nation of Neighbors
- Illegal immigrants in the US: How many are there?
- Cato: Let’s Not Blame Immigrants for High Unemployment Rates
On Friday, Sept. 24, Stephen Colbert appeared in character before the House immigration subcommittee: he’d spent one day as a farm worker. But he did fall out of character once, when Rep. Judy Chu, the California Democrat, asked, “Why of all the things you could testify about did you choose this issue?”
Colbert’s answer: “I like talking about people who don’t have any power, and this seems like, one of the least powerful people in the United States are migrant workers who come and do our work but don’t have any rights as a result. And yet we still invite them to come here and at the same time ask them to leave. That’s an interesting contradiction to me. And, you know, “Whatsoever you do for the least of my brothers”–and this seems like the least of brothers–right now. A lot of people are least brothers right now because the economy is so hard. And I don’t want to take anyone’s hardship away from them or diminish anything like that. But migrant works suffer and have no rights.”
From Yahoo News: “Whether it was partially serious or just a bad joke, Republicans who deride Democrats for bringing Colbert to Washington may not want to use the incident as a talking point on the campaign trail. It was Republicans, as Chu pointed out during the hearing, who brought in Elmo the Sesame Street Muppet to testify in 2002.”
Watch the full hearing:
- Arizona Boots Up Brown Immigrants’ Guantanamo
- The Judge Behind the Decision Striking Down Parts of Arizona’s Anti-Immigration Law
- Immigration’s Tale from New York’s #7 Subway Train
From Maisonneuve, the Canadian quarterly: “Crowds stream by: Western, Indian, Eastern European and Japanese men on vacation and on the prowl. [Thailand’s] Pattaya—its beaches, streets, shopping malls, restaurants and bars—is ground zero for Southeast Asia’s booming sex trade. In Asia alone, agencies estimate one million children work in the region’s $5 billion prostitution industry (with the age of initiation as young as four for boys and eleven for girls). The ready availability of Thai youth draws a half-million foreigners each year, Canadians among them. These tourists use child-sex hubs like Thailand as personal playgrounds, bases for pornography rings and safe havens to evade capture for sex crimes committed back home. […]
[Canada has] an extra-territorial law that allows Canadian authorities to prosecute nationals who commit crimes in other countries. But in cases of child-sex tourism, the law is poorly enforced. Between 1997 (when it was enacted) and 2007, 110 Canadians were charged with child abuse overseas. To date, only three have been convicted; a fourth will soon stand trial. “A law on the books,” Beaulieu laments, “can’t do much if it is not enforced.”” The full article.
- Human Trafficking FAQ
- Global Report on Trafficking in Persons (UN)
- Nicholas Kristof Talks About Sex Trafficking, Rape and Raising Kids
- Anthony Micallef’s Gallery
Next week the Nobel prizes for literature, peace and the sciences will be awarded, beginning with Monday’s announcement for medicine, Tuesday’s for physics, Wednesday’s for chemistry, and Friday for peace. The Swedish Academy, as by tradition (or uptightness), won’t even say when i will announce the literature prize until later. But the betting is in. From Reuters: “Swedish poet and writer Tomas Transtromer is the bookmakers’ favorite to win the Nobel Prize in Literature this year, with odds also suggesting American authors are once again set to be overlooked.”
So Transtromer is set to take his place among the illustrious obscurities that scratch up the winners’ list. “The prize has also been overshadowed by perceptions of anti-American bias on the committee that whittles the nominations sent in from around the world down to a shortlist which is then voted on by the Swedish Academy. In 2008, committee member Horace Engdahl was quoted as saying U.S. literature was “too insular,” prompting an angry response from some leading American writers. Ladbrokes have put U.S. authors Thomas Pynchon and Philip Roth, both perennial also-rans in the Nobel race, among the 18/1 outsiders for the prize, worth 10 million Swedish crowns ($1.5 million) to the winner last year. Four female writers — Joyce Carol Oates, Margaret Atwood, Alice Munro and A.S. Byatt — are also at 18/1.” The full story.
Who says Stephen Colbert, dirty limericks and Martin Heidegger can’t mix? At FlaglerLive, it’s all about that chef’s salad of croutons and intellect. Today’s challenge: Martin Heidegger on language. It’s a challenge all right, not just because it’s in German (with English subtitles), or because Heidegger has that nasty side of him in his past (he sympathized with Hitler for a while, though as Germans went, he was far from the exception), but because it’s goddamn Heidegger, who’s no easier a phenomenologist to swallow than the word phenomenology or its godfather, the truly unbearable Hegel. But Heidegger is rewarding. Really. Give him a chance. He speaks about language, philosophy, “the question of being,” and learning a new way of thinking, among other head-twirlers. Watch the first clip. If you survive, you’re excused from Sunday and Wednesday services for a month. That’s how much god knows what a purgatorial experience Heidegger can be:
From PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler: “Did the producers of PBS’s famed Sesame Street children’s program do the right thing, or did they get weak-kneed and wobbly and engage in self-censorship after the first round of criticism? Or, are they the best PR people in the world? Or, did they just mess up? […] Personally, I feel it would have been okay to run the video and take a little heat from some segments of the audience. But I don’t fault the producers for the decision they made. This was, after all, entertainment, maybe a good watching and listening experience but not exactly a major learning experience. If you are going to annoy a fair number of viewers, you should have a good reason. What I don’t understand, however, is how the video — which, in its cancellation, was reported on by virtually all major news organizations on all platforms and viewed probably a gazillion times on YouTube — got this far within Sesame Workshop management. […] I could tell, and I think anyone could, in a second it would get a fair amount of condemnation from some parents and it made me wonder why do it this way? Sesame Street is not just any other children’s program; it is an iconic broadcast, often brilliant, provocative at times, and it does exist on multiple levels with parents watching along with their children. My guess is that another inch of dress on top would have produced a slightly more modestly dressed Perry and an entertaining segment that would not have produced this embarrassing controversy.” The full post.
- On Sesame Street, ‘C’ Is For Controversy
- Sesame Street’s 40th: Five biggest controversies
- Are Ernie and Bert More Than Just Best Friends?
Watch Katy Perry’s song, dance and dress:
From new York Magazine: “Sorkin’s script, which tells the story—or rather, the contentious, conflicting stories—of the founding of Facebook, can boast more than mere Zeitgeist-y oomph. It’s yielded a remarkable rarity in contemporary studio filmmaking: a movie that could recapture for Hollywood some claim to the national cultural conversation that has, in the last decade, been virtually co-opted by television. The Social Network is a film adults can brawl over—it rips into the red meat of Art of War business ethics, the necessity of ruthlessness in bringing a new invention from concept to reality, the problematics of saying “Nothing personal!” as your shiv approaches your colleague’s ribs, and the thorny issue of just who owns an idea—whether, as the movie version of Zuckerberg puts it, “a guy who makes a really good chair owes money to anyone who ever made a chair.” In addition, The Social Network raises a number of questions about filmmaking ethics—specifically, about how much artistic license can and should be taken in turning a group of ambitious young men not far from 20 years old into movie characters. It’s smart, it’s provocative, and it’s going to be polarizing.” The full article.
- Obama exaggerates his record on campaign promises
- More Crooked Florida CEOs