Remember Bill Dillon? He's the guy who was finally released from prison in 2008 after serving 27 years for a murder he didn't commit `"26 years," Oct. 11, 2007`. Thank you, DNA testing.
Because it's not enough to rob a man of three decades of his life based on an incredibly shoddy prosecution — featuring a legally blind witness and a girlfriend who was sleeping with the lead investigator in the case, just for starters — the state has now decided that Dillon doesn't deserve the $1.35 million in compensation it owes him. Why? Because when he was 19, Dillon had a nonviolent drug conviction.
Florida's compensation bill has what's called a "clean hands" clause: If you've been convicted of a crime before being convicted of the crime you didn't commit, well, too bad. The state can botch a prosecution, throw you behind bars and half your life later, when you are able to finally prove your innocence, they stiff you because you got caught smoking pot.
That's perfectly reasonable.
Dillon now has two choices: He can find a sponsor in the next state legislative session to push a special claims bill — paging Scott Randolph — or he can try to get money outside of Florida's compensation system. If those options fail, oh well. It's probably easy to find work after three decades in the can.
Hey, so good news: Downtown is officially revitalized!
On May 28, the Plaza Cinema Cafe opened for business inside those big office towers that Cameron Kuhn built with your money a few years back, before he and everything else went bust. So now we can all go pay a lot of money to see movies downtown. The city's saying this will bring a half million people downtown a year, and they should know: They've been promising us this thing was going to open any day now for the last six years or so? And here it is! Woot!
Of course, it's worth noting that not only did the city subsidize the entire Plaza — which was, in fact, a $140 million idea the mayor proposed to his buddy Kuhn — but last December, our city leaders forked over yet another $6 million to make this thing happen. But it was all worth it. Downtown is saved! Go see Terminator Salvation.
This week, in the not-quite -substantiated-but-totally-awesome-if-it's-true department, we hear rumblings that wild-eyed Winter Park commissioner (and vice mayor) Karen Diebel may be entertaining the voices in her head that say, "I deserve higher political office, yes I do!"
You'll remember that in 2007, Diebel made headlines for an April 29 phone call to the police because there were snakes in her motherfuckin' pool; better still, those snakes were probably a sign from God, or her constituents, related to her vote on commuter rail.
Then she went off on the fire chief at a commission meeting in June — there was some issue about power lines being buried for safety on a property, which she expanded to include burying the entirety of the city's electric grid — asking him to guarantee that it wouldn't rain for two weeks, and make certain that her children would go nowhere near the power lines lest they be shocked!
Even more shocking, though, was her mysterious hospitalization in September, the nature of which was quickly buried, although the words "Baker" and "act" might have been involved. All of this would look fantastic in a campaign commercial, right?
Word from inside sources is that Diebel wants to be the Republican contender for U.S. Congressional District 24; a plan that may already be well underway, according to rumors, with support from Republican Rep. John Mica and some consultation with the Republican National Conference Caucus in Washington D.C. Neither Diebel nor Mica returned our inquiries, but local Republican Deon Long `"Coup de'tat," April 9`, — who is also considering a run for the seat currently held by admittedly boring Democrat Suzanne Kosmas — told us in an e-mail that he also had heard that she was "interested."
Interesting is more like it! Stay tuned!
And now it's time for another edition of What's Up With Alan?™, our attempt to keep you up to date on the comings and goings of Orlando's favorite congressman, Alan Grayson!
This week's installment finds Alan keeping the Fed honest and giving everyone free vacation, just like Sweden! On May 21, Grayson offered up the Paid Vacation Act, which would force companies with more than 100 employees to offer their employees at least one paid week of vacation. While this makes Grayson a communist, it's worth noting that France forces companies to give employees a full month off — hear that, Orlando Weekly overlords? — and the U.S. ranks dead last among industrialized countries in mandatory leave time.
And when we're all poor and stressed out and never have any days off because we're clinging to our cubicles for dear life, we don't go to Disney, which negatively impacts Grayson's district. So Alan gets to help Disney and act out his Marxist fantasies at the same time. Yay Alan!
Five days later, Grayson sent us an e-mail announcing that the famous YouTube of him dressing down some Federal Reserve muckety muck had 425,000 views — only 213,506 of which came from Grayson himself — which is a larger number than the Orlando Sentinel's circulation. And that means the hip Internet kids are way better than the fogies who read the dead-tree media outlets. As Grayson's e-mail proclaimed, "That is the beauty of the New Media. People are tired of being told what's news, what's important, what to think. People can think for themselves. We can go on the Internet and find the news that matters to us. And this kind of news matters to us. When Congressman Alan Grayson conducts a Congressional oversight hearing exposing the fact that the Federal Reserve's own Inspector General doesn't even know who received the `$1 trillion` that the Federal Reserve has handed out since last September, it matters to us — a lot. Even if the mainstream media couldn't care less." Take that, traditional media!
What do we say? Thanks Alan, for sticking it to the man on the Internet. And for giving us a couple of days off, even if we can't afford to go anywhere.
The California Supreme Court's May 26 decision to uphold Proposition 8, passed on the November ballot by mob rule, and yet still honor the gay marriages of the 18,000 who managed to eek in their nuptials in that rainbow window sent shockwaves across the country, and turned this Happytown™ into a big old frowning pool.
There's a high-profile federal suit now in the wings to point out the obvious — that you can't put basic human rights on a ballot and expect good things — but the decision was also a reminder that our dumb state passed just about the same thing, and hasn't even seen a significant court challenge. Looking back, it might have been better to actually say Amendment 2 was actually about gay people and civil rights, rather than burying it in the fortunes of old folks, but for now we're stuck with it.
Following Tuesday's decision, Equality Florida released a statement saying, "The outrage, despair and disappointment we feel in the wake of today's decision must be balanced with the resolve that the day will come when marriage equality will be the law of the land."
Well, days may come, but changes require effort, something Equality Florida field director Joe Saunders tells us is inevitable. "For Floridians, the passage of Amendment 2 and Proposition 8 was a wake up call," Saunders says. "People didn't believe it would happen," he says. "In hindsight, maybe this is what folks needed."
He adds that the judgment has galvanized the common folk of Florida, that Equality Florida has been getting twice the response for half the work on its other efforts to put forth civil rights legislation.
Still, he adds, "it sucks." Yes, it firstname.lastname@example.org