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The easy way to quit driving, cold turkey

WE'RE THANKFUL HE WON'T BE DRIVING NEXT THANKSGIVING: The St. Petersburg man stood before County Judge Paul Levine, accused of violating his probation. For the 17th time, he had been caught driving with a suspended license.

Nevertheless, defense attorney Robert Pope urged Levine not to send his client to jail. The judge, scanning an eight-page printout of the man's driving infractions, wondered aloud about the most recent ticket, the result of a Nov. 26, 1994, crash in Broward County. Pope conferred with his client, then gave this straight-faced explanation: It was Thanksgiving, and the man had picked up a frozen turkey and was taking to his family. Suddenly the car ahead of him stopped short, forcing him to slam on the brakes.

The frozen turkey flew off the front seat and wedged itself on the gas pedal, making the car lunge forward and strike two other cars, Pope said. By the time Pope was through, everyone in court was roaring with laughter. Levine said, "I did give him credit for a wonderful story _ and I gave him six months in jail."

PART OF THE TERRITORY: Besides the obvious hazards of the job, firefighter/EMTs daily face exposure to some of life's less pleasant aspects, such as vomit. When a patient threw up on a Palm Harbor emergency medical technician a few months ago, the rescue worker asked the fire department to clean his uniform.

"We said, "No, you clean it,' " said fire Chief Tom Jarrell. "We provide washers and dryers at the station."

Jarrell said he thinks the uniform was washed at the station, but in the meantime, the firefighter's supervisor filed a grievance over the refusal.

By the time the grievance came before the fire commisssion last week, it had evolved into a request to add vomit to the list of bodily fluids that require special attention.

"The bottom line is he wanted to be able to form a committee to work with our EMS supervisor to review exposure control protocols," Jarrell said. "We granted him what he asked for because it was largely in place."

The incident wasn't that unusual, the chief said.

"I can't tell you how many times through the years I've been vomited on."

YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK: Jerry Castellanos is hoping to be elected Pinellas County's tax collector in November 1996, but he'll have to wait a year to start campaigning in earnest.

In the meantime, he's going to school.

Castellanos said he has been accepted to the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. This time next year, he should have a master's degree in public administration.

Castellanos will come back to Pinellas County in July 1996 and start campaigning.

Any primary election would be in September. The general election will be in November.

Castellanos is expected to run against his old boss, incumbent W. Fred Petty, who fired Castellanos last April.

Castellanos threatened to sue and later was paid $110,500 by the county in a settlement.

Part of that money, Castellanos said, will enable him to go to Harvard.

OKAY, LET'S THINK ABOUT TALKING ABOUT CONSIDERING MAKING A DECISION: Perhaps the board of Seminole Fire Rescue really did intend to say that it wanted the city of Seminole to take it over, but you couldn't be sure by reading the resolution the board passed last week, which, besides being ambiguous, was filled with spelling and grammatical errors.

Here's the resolution the board passed in its original, unedited form:

"Whereas, THAT; In the best interests of all citizens living in the SFR Inc Fire District and,

"Whereas, THAT; in the best interests of all employees and to insure their safety and security.

"Therefor be resolved, THAT; Seminole Fire Rescue Inc. begin the process of exploration of the feasibility of merging Seminole Fire Rescue Inc. and the City of Seminole.

"Be It Further Resolved, THAT; a letter of intent be drafted by the Board of Commissioners to to Seminole City Council to begin that process."

WHERE WOULD KATO BE WITHOUT HIM?: It's not unusual for defendants to write to a judge to proclaim their innocence of the crime they have been charged with. What was unusual about the letter that Circuit Judge Nelly Khouzam received last week from a 40-year-old St. Petersburg woman facing a probation violation charge was the letter's scrawled postscript.

"Maybe," the woman wrote, "someday God will send someone special into my life like O. J. Simpson."

DISORDER IN THE COURT: In this month's County Court Courier, a newsletter for the people interested in what goes onin Pinellas County's misdemeanor court complex, County Judge Karl Grube has penned a little futuristic fantasy about a certain California murder case.

"The fourth trial of O. J. Simpson was recessed yesterday to allow friends and relatives to attend the defendant's funeral," Grube wrote. He reported that Simpson "died of complications due to old age."

The first trial, Grube writes, ended when the court ran out of alternate jurors "after a search of the jury's hotel rooms turned up 17 unfinished manuscripts." The second was declared a mistrial when 11 of the 12 jurors refused to enter the jury box with any of the others, he wrote.

And the third ended "when the jurors broke out of their sequestered hotel rooms en masse and marched down Wilshire Boulevard in their pajamas, chanting, "Hey! Hey! No more DNA!'


QUOTABLE: "I sent out a memo this morning saying don't have defendants try on gloves in court."

_ State Attorney Bernie McCabe, joking about the effect that the O. J. Simpson trial has had on the way cases are prosecuted in Pinellas County.

_ Times staff writers Craig Pittman, Amy Walsh, Curtis Krueger, Wilma Norton and Amelia Davis contributed to this report.