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Year in review



This time last year we Floridians were feeling mighty apologetic. We had inflicted boybands (not to mention Creed) on the world, and we were also the state responsible for the "pregnant chad," teaching terrorists to fly and the de facto home of anthrax. The Year of Our Lord 2002 was to be our chance at redemption.

Oh well.

Boybands may have slipped off the radar, but high-profile and equally vacuous solo acts took their place. Creed is still inexplicably ubiquitous (though Scott Stapp's ex-wife did kick his ass, which brings no small measure of joy to the season). There haven't been any more anthrax attacks, but neither has anyone been arrested for the past attacks. We finally seemed to be able to vote without a complete calamity (at least in November), but damned if we didn't go right ahead and re-elect Jeb Bush, and elect Charlie Crist and (ugh) Tom Feeney.

From missing children to Noelle Bush's drug problems, from pedophile priests to the eternal question mark that is Diana Vazquez Cook, from firefighter scandals to self-righteous cops, what follows is our timeline of the important and not-so-important events of 2002. It's yet another year we'd kind of like to forget.


1st: Rilya Wilson has been missing from her Miami foster home for about 11 months, but the Department of Children & Families doesn't know about it yet.

17th: Downtown promoter Jim Faherty pleads guilty to one count of mail fraud for cashing in a bogus $1 million McDonald's game piece.

22nd: Orlando city commissioner Don Ammerman announces that risk manager Mark Munsey told him there is evidence to support city firefighters' claims that the city is denying them health care and trying to cover it up.

22nd: In his "State of the State" address, Gov. Jeb Bush promises a "full, honest and transparent dialogue" of Senate president John McKay's call for closing more than 300 tax loopholes. That sound you hear is Jeb laughing maniacally.

23rd: Munsey denies making any such statements.

23rd: The U.S. Supreme Court declares a de facto moratorium on executions in Florida and eight other states while it examines the legality of having judges, not juries, sentence people to death. The scheduled killings of Amos King (Jan. 24), Linroy Bottoson (Feb. 5) and Robert Trease (Feb. 7) are put on hold.

29th: Police bust Jeb Bush's only daughter, Noelle, 24, on charges of forging a prescription for Xanax the day she was supposed to begin a job as an entry-level human-resources assistant with Infinity Software Development Inc. Company officials tell CNN the job offer still stands when Noelle is ready. Life as a governor's daughter continues to have its rewards.

29th: Orange County Chairman Rich Crotty sends school-board chairman Susan Arkin a letter demanding that she accompany the half-cent sales tax the school board wants to put to voters with a property-tax rollback. The school board had already twice rejected the idea.

29th: In his "State of the Nation" address, President Bush labels Iran, Iraq and North Korea the "Axis of Evil."

31st: The city of Orlando auctions its "LizArt" statues, thus freeing downtown from cheesy fiberglass reptiles. The event raises more than $262,000 for arts groups.

31st: Senate passes McKay's tax plan but refuses to send it to the House where it will surely be defeated. The stalling halts virtually all lawmaking.


5th: An ordinance proposed by Orange County chairman Rich Crotty that would make it illegal for lobbyists to lobby commissioners in person after the county ranks bids for a project fails on a 4-3 vote.

6th: Senate president John McKay calls Bush's opposition to his tax reforms "mind-boggling."

10th: Noelle Bush's lawyers announce that she's entered a drug-rehab program at the Center for Drug-Free Living in Orlando. If she completes the program, charges will be dropped.

11th: To keep lobbyists from seeing commissioners without signing in -- as they tend to do -- Orange County commissioners build a three-foot wall around their lobby.

14th: New security systems debut at Orlando International Airport. Civil libertarians object again. By now, the see-through devices are pitched as an alternative to frisking; better to be X-rayed than felt up, the argument goes.

15th: A Bradford County jury acquits five former prison guards accused of stomping death-row inmate Frank Valdes to death in 1999. The judge refuses to move the trial out of Bradford despite the fact that nearly all of the county's residents either work for the prison system or have relatives who do.

23rd: TV psychic Miss Cleo, along with two Florida companies affiliated with her, reaches an agreement with the Federal Trade Commission that allows her psychic hotline to operate while an investigation into deceptive practices at the companies is ongoing. Almost every newspaper in the world uses a version of the same, predictable headline: "Did Miss Cleo see it coming?"

28th: Orlando city commissioner Daisy Lynum, up for re-election, debunks the idea that she doesn't work with political dissidents: "That is as full of bull as I've ever heard," she tells Orlando Weekly. "Anybody who calls my office will get my help. Anybody who wants it, they get it. I don't discriminate." Moments later, in typical Lynum form, she contradicts herself: "I won't deal with a small group of negative people who don't deserve my attention. ... I don't deal with negative people." In the same interview, she also calls her adversaries "pathological liars" who are "utterly destructive."


13th: John McKay abandons his ambitious plan to close sales-tax loopholes amid opposition from the Legislature's right wing. Instead, he proposes an amendment to the constitution to form a committee that would examine specific tax exemptions. McKay, who stalled every important bill in the Senate, is betting that House Speaker Tom Feeney would rather pass some type of tax reform than adjourn the session before the Senate draws him a Republican-heavy district in which to make his assumed congressional run. Politics at its worst.

12th: City-council elections: Vicki Vargo beats Roger Chapin. Daisy Lynum wins re-election. Surprisingly, newcomer Phil Diamond forces incumbent Don Ammerman into a runoff. (Oddball candidate Tom Levine runs a distant third.)

18th: The FBI announces that two priests were among 40 people busted in an online child-sex ring, adding fuel to the Catholic sex-abuse scandal. The week before, a Florida bishop resigned after admitting to molesting a boy 25 years ago. In Massachusetts, 86 people sue the archdiocese over sex-abuse allegations.

18th: Orlando commissioners rezone a proposed time-share at the corner of Turkey Lake and Wallace roads into 445 residential units, angering their Orange County counterparts who have been denying rezonings for the last two years to keep school growth in check.

22nd: Pope John Paul II breaks his silence on the sex-abuse scandals throughout the world. In an Easter letter to priests, the pope distances the church as a whole from the actions of individuals.

22nd: McKay's gamble pays off. Feeney puts the sales-tax amendment on the November ballot, and the Legislature carves him out a congressional district. Still, the Legislature has failed at its two major tasks -- drafting a budget and overhauling the state's education code -- so a special session, at a cost of $40,000 a day, is necessary.


1st: Admiring Feeney's dedication to public service over self-interest, this Weekly scribe registers as a Republican. April fool's.

2nd: First special session convenes to write a budget and overhaul the state's 1,800-page education code.

5th: Special session ends. Nothing passes. Taxpayers eat $160,000 bill.

9th: Phil Diamond beats Ammerman in runoff.

11th: Mark Munsey resigns effective April 26. He figures city officials would soon fire him anyway.

15th: Pope John Paul II summons U.S. cardinals to Rome to discuss the church's rampant child abuse.

25th: Department of Children & Families reports Rilya Wilson missing.

29th: Legislature enters second special session.


1st: A selection committee taps former permitting official Frank Billingsley to head Orlando's Downtown Development Board and Community Redevelopment Agency, the groups charged with eliminating blight and rejuvenating downtown.

1st: City hires Mark Munsey on a five-month, $85-an-hour consulting contract, supposedly to evaluate property and liability insurance policies. Munsey made about $35 an hour as full-time employee.

2nd: Orange County school board caves to chairman Crotty, offers property-tax rollback with proposed half-cent sales tax.

7th: Orange County commissioners ask all the county's municipalities to comply with growth restrictions. Mayor Hood initially backs away, telling the county through a spokeswoman not to "force it down our throats." A few weeks later, with public pressure mounting, Hood does an about-face and embraces Crotty's plan.

13th: Second special session ends. Budget is finally written; education code finally overhauled.

14th: County commission agrees to the school board's half-cent sales tax, rollback included, and places it on the Sept. 10 ballot.

15th: This Weekly scribe turns 23, feels old, but is still younger than you.

20th: Rilya Wilson still missing.

30th: Cocoa Beach police raid the adult club The Boardroom arresting 11 female employees on prostitution and racketeering charges. Owner Marjorie Ruzzo faces nine felony counts, including aiding prostitution and participating in illegal financial transactions.


14th: The nation's Catholic bishops approve a new sex-abuse policy. Not quite zero tolerance, abusive priests can still remain in the priesthood until a cardinal removes them. But pedophiles will at least be kept away from administering mass.

15th: Accounting firm Arthur Andersen convicted of obstructing justice in the Enron debacle.

24th: Diana Vazquez Cook, a newly converted Democrat, files to run for office against Orange County chairman Rich Crotty.

25th: U.S. Supreme Court strips judges of the right to hand down death sentences. The constitutionality of Florida's death-penalty law, which leaves the final decision to judges but allows juries to give recommendations, is still murky.

26th: The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rules the Pledge of Allegiance -- specifically the phrase "under God" -- is an unconstitutional government endorsement of religion and can't be used in schools. Conservatives go apoplectic, ignoring the fact that the phrase was added to the pledge in 1954 after a lobbying effort by the religious group Knights of Columbus, and the fact that author Francis Bellamy was a socialist who wouldn't have wanted it in there anyway.

27th: Polk County transplant Timothy Devine makes the chairman's race a three-way contest, which moves it from the Nov. 5 ballot to Sept. 10. Privately, some Democrats suspect Devine -- who ran as a write-in -- is a tool of Crotty, who benefits by giving Cook just two months to raise money and get her name out. Crotty denies it, and no connection ever emerges. Devine dodges all media requests for interviews, but his campaign literature includes a poem that encourages voters to "stuff the ballot box with T.N.T."

27th: U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft asks the 9th Circuit to reconsider its decision on the pledge. Grandstand-ing congressman crowd the steps in front of the Capitol, reciting the pledge and screaming "under God."

28th: U.S. Supreme Court declines to examine Florida's death-penalty statute, effectively green-lighting future executions and forcing the state's high court to decide how its recent decision should be applied.

28th: The 9th Circuit stays its pledge decision pending appeals.


1st: Gov. Bush sets execution dates for convicted killers Amos King (July 8) and Linroy Bottoson (July 10).

2nd: RDV Sports executive Pat Williams sends Orlando a letter (through his company's letter service) arguing against extending equal opportunity protection to gays. He later calls it a "personal action" -- one RDV quickly distances itself from, since it owns both the Magic and the Miracle. (The latter appeals to a heavily lesbian audience.)

8th: Florida Supreme Court halts Bottoson's execution six hours before he's scheduled to die. King's death, slated for July 10, is also indefinitely postponed.

17th: Noelle Bush is found in contempt of court for violating her drug treatment plan after an unidentified prescription pill is found in her pocket. She is sentenced to two days in Orange County jail.

19th: Noelle Bush is released from jail back to the Center for Drug-Free Living.

19th: Seminole County cops raid all of the county's five head shops, taking bongs, backpacks and even Bob Marley T-shirts.

22nd: WorldCom declares bankruptcy, surpassing Enron as the largest bankruptcy filing ever and throwing the stock market into further upheaval.

24th: A New York lawyer sues the four biggest fast-food chains -- McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's and KFC -- alleging their food makes people fat and unhealthy. So many jokes, so little time.


8th: Diana Vazquez Cook threatens Orlando Weekly with a lawsuit following the article "It's Crotty by default" `Aug. 8` for slander, libel and falsely representing her as a soccer mom. Cook claims that her kids don't even like soccer.

8th: One hundred Orlando Miracle fans protest RDV Sports executive Pat Williams' anti-gay rights letter outside of the TD Waterhouse Centre.

8th: Orange County commissioner Bob Sindler's reserve military unit is activated.

11th: The Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale reports finding nine of 24 missing South Florida children under DCF care within four weeks -- two were found in less than three hours -- despite lack of access to detailed DCF files. DCF has 532 children unaccounted for.

13th: DCF leader Kathleen Kearney resigns.

15th: Bush picks Jerry Regier, an Oklahoma right-winger who once advocated spanking children to the point of bruising and rails against women working outside of the home, to replace Kearney. Riyla Wilson still missing.

19th: Regier officially takes over the DCF.

29th: A 7-month-old boy being monitored by DCF dies of heat exposure after being left inside a sweltering minivan for hours.


2nd: In response to an Orlando Sentinel article on her campaign, Cook sends Sentinel reporter Jon Steinman an e-mail with the following statement: "It's a sad day in America when SATIRE (sic) isn't respected."

4th: RDV Sports executive Pat Williams is in trouble again after his 480-page compilation of jokes, "Winning With One-liners," is released. The book includes four pages of jokes under the headline "Ethnicville." Included are such gems as: "Why don't ethnics get 10-minute coffee breaks? It takes too long to retrain them." Williams' explanation: "'Ethnic' is a general term. You plug in who you like."

6th: Gov. Bush signs death warrants for Aileen Wournos and Rigoberto Sanchez-Velasco, two convicted killers who dropped their appeals and volunteered to be killed by the state, despite ongoing questions of the legality of Florida's death-penalty statute.

10th: Primary election day: Bill McBride beats Janet Reno. Rich Crotty throttles Diana Vazquez Cook by 40 percentage points and declares a "strong mandate." Linda Stewart survives the primary against the better-funded Clarence Hoenstine. Homer Hartage, despite alienating prior supporters, is re-elected to the county commission. Voters also back the school board's half-cent sales tax, property-tax rollback included. Many of the mishaps of the 2000 elections are repeated, and Gov. Bush has to extend poll hours until 9 p.m.

10th: Noelle Bush is found with a "white rock substance" that tested positive for cocaine -- let's call it "crack" -- at the Center for Drug-Free Living. Center officials try to quash the cops' investigation, calling it a matter of privacy.

10th: County commissioner Sindler wins his seat unopposed. Though he's going off to war, he refuses to give up his seat. He says he'll "call in" for votes.

11th: Crotty wastes no time jumping on his supposed mandate. He proposes a blue-ribbon panel to study the region's transportation woes. Ideas include asking voters for another half-cent sales tax.

12th: Judge rules that Brevard deputies illegally confiscated The Boardroom's property and orders 100 items, including a microwave and a washing machine, returned to the owner.

16th: Jim Faherty sentenced to three years probation by a federal judge.

18th: First Court of Appeals finds that the ballot summary of John McKay's tax amendment is misleading and strikes it from the Nov. 5 ballot.

19th: Crotty buys himself a new car -- a $28,807 2003 Ford Expedition that gets 12 miles per gallon -- on the county's dime. Predecessor Mel Martinez's Buick Park Avenue, which Crotty had driven since taking over in January 2001, is retired to the county motor pool.

20th: Florida Supreme Court refuses to overturn First Court of Appeals ruling, meaning McKay's tax amendment is officially off the ballot.

23rd: Vazquez Cook threatens to sue the Weekly again, this time over a mention in the Dog Playing Poker column. Cook had written the Sentinel a letter calling reporters "dingle berries," then explained the term in exacting detail. Dog Playing Poker writer Steve Schneider bases his column on the comment and goes on to explain the difference between "corn shit" and "Lincoln-log shit." To quote Schneider: "It's a sad day in America when SATIRE (sic) isn't respected."

24th: WKMG-TV Local 6's hidden cameras tape 17 employees and board members of mass-transit agency LYNX gambling and drinking in Las Vegas while attending a taxpayer-funded conference.

28th: The Sentinel reports that a school-district spokeswoman improperly gave the names and addresses of all 150,000 Orange County schoolchildren to a marketing consultant for pro-tax lobbying group, Change 4 Kids. Later the school district reveals that it has been giving out the information to businesses, colleges and lobbyists for years, though district policy requires that the school board approve any releases first.


1st: Orange County school officials pledge not to give student information out any more.

2nd: A Lake City judge grants 55-year-old Charles Haffey's petition to change his name to "I Am Who I Am." The moniker is a compromise after the judge refused to allow Haffey to rename himself "God" or "God on Earth" in April. According to the Associated Press, Haffey said being named "God" would remove him from his former life as an "overachiever" and a "perfectionist." Haffey recognizes that he isn't the Holy One -- in his words, he "can't levitate you or anything."

2nd: State executes Rigoberto Sanchez-Velasco.

2nd: The so-called "Beltway sniper" claims his first victim, and touches off three weeks of panic around Washington, D.C.

2nd: In a closed-door meeting with Panhandle lawmakers, Gov. Bush announces he has "devious plans" if the class-size amendment passes. He also says he has "some juicy details" about Rilya Wilson's caregivers and not-so-subtly insinuates that they are lesbians.

8th: The Orange County School Board -- berated by parents angered that the district released their children's names and addresses and activists who believe the district showed favoritism in giving information to some groups and not others -- votes to make the information public to all.

9th: State executes Aileen Wournos.

10th: Congressional Democrats, faced with a midterm election three weeks away, roll over and give President Bush the authority to "bomb Saddam" at will under the guise of a nonspecific threat of weapons-of-mass-destruction. This after administration officials desperately try, and fail, to link Saddam Hussein's regime to the Sept. 11 attacks.

12th: Blue Meridian is booed as they accept first-place in the "Rock" category at the Orlando Music Awards.

14th: UCF president John Hitt comes out against extending anti-discrimination protection to gays. "There is no demonstrative need," he says.

15th: Crotty wins his lobbying ordinance. Commissioner Clarence Hoenstine switches sides just weeks before a tough re-election bid and sides with Crotty. Not wanting to be the sole dissenter, commissioner Hartage also falls in line. Commissioner Sindler, who opposed the ordinance the first go-around, fails to "call in."

15th: Congressional candidate Eddie Diaz asks Ric Keller not to spit on him during their debate.

16th: North Korea admits having a nuclear weapons program, violating a 1994 agreement with the United States. Bush takes a diplomatic tact, even as he presses for war in Iraq.

17th: Noelle Bush is sentenced to 10 days in jail for contempt after her crack possession. Earlier, the judge ruled that Center for Drug-Free Living officials didn't have to testify against Noelle, so no criminal charges were filed.

20th: Linda Stewart files a complaint against opponent Clarence Hoenstine's son, Chad, who was videotaped removing her yard signs. Hoenstine says his son was set up. "They are evil, evil people," Hoenstine says of Stewart and his son's neighbors, who filmed the theft. "They are trying to destroy `this` family."

21st: Hoenstine apologizes.

21st: Mayor Hood officially comes out against adding homosexuals to the city's anti-discrimination laws.

21st: RDV Sports pulls the plug on the four-year-old Orlando Miracles WNBA team, citing financial difficulties. RDV officials say there is no connection to Williams' anti-gay letter.

24th: Beltway-sniper suspects are caught following 13 shootings, 10 of which are fatal.

25th: Florida Supreme Court finds the state's death-penalty statute legal, 24 freed death-row inmates (the most in the country) notwithstanding.

25th: Florida Commission on Ethics clears Tom Feeney of allegations made by opponent Harry Jacobs that Feeney improperly used the Speaker's office to help a lobbying client.

31st: To kick off sweeps month and topping weeks of nauseating hype, Local 6 airs its grainy LYNX-in-Las Vegas footage. "While you take the bus," a reporter announces, "five LYNX board members, two top executives and two of their spouses were being wined and dined by a former LYNX contractor."

31st: Crotty calls for stricter oversight of LYNX. The Local 6 Problem Solvers soldier on. Next up: solving the 1932 kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby.


5th: Election Day: Jeb Bush, Tom Feeney, Ric Keller, John Mica and Charlie Crist win their respective races. State Democrats lose on every major candidate, but voters still back Democratic-sounding amendments limiting class-size, instituting universal pre-K, limiting smoking in restaurants and banning restrictive pens for pregnant pigs. Linda Stewart beats Clarence Hoenstine.

8th: The Bush Administration wins a 15-0 resolution from the United Nations Security Council ordering Iraq to allow weapons inspectors in the country to prove it has no weapons of mass destruction. This follows months of posturing from Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney, both of whom supported a unilateral "preemptive strike." The war mongering helps the GOP dominate midterm elections.

10th: Orange County sheriff's deputies raid HeadlightZ American Bar & Grille, a UCF-area club heavily patronized by rowdy college students. Police arrest eight people: four on drug charges and four bartenders for allegedly serving minors.

12th: Local band VonRay (or is that Vonra? Or Von Ra? How about Von Ray?) plays an acoustic set on The WB show "Smallville." The band has a self-titled debut due out early next year on Elektra.

13th: Diana Vazquez Cook threatens to sue the Weekly for an article on the local Democratic Party that labels her "kooky" and a "poor fund-raiser." (She raised about $6,500 for her bid to be county chair, $5,500 of which came from her own account.) She also notes, correctly, that the paper made a mistake in hyphenating her last name. Weekly editors deeply regret the hyphenation error.

13th: Catholic bishops revise their sex-abuse policy following Vatican objections that the original policy didn't protect accused priests' rights. The policy requires victims to come forward by age 28.

14th: Daisy Lynum, speaking to Rollins College students about the proposed gay-rights ordinance, calls Vicki Vargo a "waste of political air space."

14th: Miss Cleo and her affiliates reach an agreement with the Federal Trade Commission to pay a $5 million fine and forgive $500 million in customer debt. "I'm no psychic," says the FTC chairman, "but I can foresee this. If you make deceptive claims, there is an FTC action in your future."

14th: The University of Central Florida's board of trustees proposes giving president John Hitt a $93,000 raise, which would make him the highest-paid university leader in Florida, despite the fact that many classes have been eliminated due to budget cuts.

14th: Creed singer Scott Stapp's ex-wife, Hilaree Stapp, hits him with a cell phone during an argument. (According to police reports she had just declared: "I fucked four guys in your bed while you were gone!"). He videotapes his "injuries" and has his assistant call 911. Hilaree Stapp is charged with aggravated assault with a weapon.

15th: State Republican chairman Al Cardenas announces he will step down from his post, going out on top after huge wins the week before. Democratic counterpart Bob Poe, however, says he'll stay on at least two more years.

15th: Bush sets execution dates for Linroy Bottoson (Dec. 6) and Amos King (Dec. 2). Their lawyers ask the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene.

18th: Orlando mayor Glenda Hood finally allows the city council to debate a proposal to add sexual orientation to the anti-discrimination code. It passes the first reading on a 4-3 vote.

19th: Gov. Jeb Bush says an option for raising necessary revenues to pay for the class-size amendment could be gambling; specifically, allowing video lottery terminals in pari-mutuel facilities.

19th: The family of a deceased former Pentagon official, Lt. Col. Robert Jaffray, sues Disney, claiming it stole the idea for Epcot.

21st: UCF's board of trustees grants Hitt his $93,000 raise, claiming that if the UCF president isn't paid better he will leave. Hitt, who also gets a house, car, country-club membership and retirement package courtesy of taxpayers, accepts. Earlier in the year Hitt told students that pay raises for janitors were impossible because the money wasn't there.

26th: HeadlightZ American Bar & Grille reaches an agreement with the county to stay open despite its drug problems. Its solution: Replace "hip-hop night" with "Southern rock night." Yeehaw.

27th: U.N. inspectors begin searching for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

27th: On a 5-4 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court dissolves a stay of execution for Amos King. He is set to die Dec. 2.


1st: With the Orlando City Council ready to grant final approval for the gay-rights amendment, gay activists announce they have no plans to ask the county for a similar law. Meanwhile, Christian groups ask Hood to veto the law if it passes a second reading. Hood has never used her veto before in her 10 years in office.

2nd: The Department of Children & Families reports that it has found about half of the 400 runaways and other missing children Gov. Bush instructed the agency to find three months earlier. DCF charges that ended up in jail, turned 18 while missing and were found and disappeared again are crossed off the list.

2nd: Gay rights ordinance passes. Hood doesn't veto it.

2nd: Fifteen minutes before Amos King's 6 p.m. execution, Gov. Bush issues a 30-day reprieve. King's famed attorney, Barry Scheck, of the Innocence Project and O.J. Simpson's "Dream Team," convinces the governor that untested DNA could exonerate King. The case proves that the quality of legal representation often determines who lives and who dies.

3rd: A "news" headline on wonders if Orlando, in light of its newfound (though toothless) commitment to protecting gays from discrimination, is the "Sodom of the South." No word on whether New Orleans is considering a lawsuit over Orlando's appropriation of its unofficial slogan.

3rd: Saddam Hussein promises to deliver Iraq's report on its weapons of mass destruction by Dec. 7, one day ahead of the U.N.-imposed deadline.

3rd: John Land, the 82-year-old mayor who has ruled Apopka almost continuously for 53 years, wins re-election. He doesn't rule out seeking an 18th term four years from now at age 86.

3rd: A state education panel suggests dramatically hiking tuition at Florida's public universities while eliminating the popular Florida Prepaid College Plan, which allows middle-class families to lock in today's rates for tomorrow's students.

3rd: Democratic Party sources indicate Bob Poe will soon step down. Tallahassee mayor Scott Maddox is the favorite to replace him.

4th: The Florida School Boards Association announces it may sue the Legislature, and possibly Gov. Bush, for underfunding education.

4th: Orange County Sheriff Kevin Beary appears on ABC's "Good Morning America." His is the first police force in the nation to receive smallpox vaccinations.

4th: Poe says he'll stay on as Democratic Party leader through January.

5th: Florida Department of Corrections secretary Michael Moore resigns effective Jan. 7. In his nearly four years running the department, allegations of racism, abuse and corruption are rampant. Four months into his tenure, death-row inmate Frank Valdes is brutally beaten to death in a scuffle with guards.

5th: In a speech at Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday party, GOP Senate leader Trent Lott's mouth gets him in trouble. He praised Thurmond's 1948 run for president on a segregationist platform and proudly boasted that Mississippi backed him. "And if the rest of the country followed our lead," Lott said, "we wouldn"t have had these problems over all these years."

6th: Jeb Bush issues a last-minute stay for Linroy Bottoson pending a psychological exam. Bottoson thinks he hears the voice of God, and if he were to stand at his victim's grave, she would be resurrected. That doesn't make him crazy in the eyes of Florida. "I think when you begin to label fundamentalist Christian beliefs as psychosis, it's not justified," says Dr. Wade Myers, a state psychologist who found Bottoson fit for execution. His death is rescheduled for Dec. 9.

7th: Saddam Hussein delivers a 12,000-page report claiming Iraq has no weapons of mass destruction. The Bush Administration immediately claims it is false, and war with Iraq appears imminent. Meanwhile, Iran and North Korea both announce that they are pursuing nuclear-weapons programs.

9th: Bottoson is executed after 24 years on death row.

9th: Lott issues the first of numerous apologies, though he never fully explains his comment.

15th: Al Gore announces that he won't run for president in 2004.

17th: "Year in Review" goes to press, leaving open the question of what took place during the last few days of the year. Rilya Wilson still missing. Diana Vazquez Cook does not threaten to sue Orlando Weekly. Today.


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