About Michael Freeman

Michael W. Freeman is a veteran journalist, playwright and author. Born and raised in Fall River, Massachusetts, he has lived in Orlando since 2002. Michael has worked for some of Florida's largest newspapers, including The Orlando Sentinel. His original plays have draw strong audiences at the Orlando Fringe Festival. He is the author of the novels "Bloody Rabbit" and "Koby's New Home."

With holiday fare underway, Celebration attracts unwanted national publicity for two violent deaths.

CELEBRATION – Just as this community was gearing up to celebrate the holidays with snow, tree lightings and carriage rides, media coverage of Celebration’s 12th Annual Now Snowing event got shunted aside by ongoing reports about two violent deaths in a community known, until this month, for never having experienced a murder before.

On Nov. 27, Celebration kicked off the community’s annual holiday events with a special tree lighting ceremony that featured live music, an appearance by Santa Claus, and manufactured snow falling on Market Street.

The town of Celebration hopes to attract people to its Now Snowing Nightly monthlong holiday event, but that got overshadowed by two violent deaths.

Just a few days later, though, the community was back in the spotlight, this time nationally, and not for the holiday fare.

Earlier this week, Osceola County Sheriff’s detectives released the name of the Celebration murder victim, 58-year-old Matteo P. Giovanditto.  Two days earlier, Osceola deputies had responded to a call from a neighbor who told them she went to check on Giovanditto and found him dead in his Water Street condo.

Not much information has been released about the case. The investigation is on-going, with detectives calling the death “suspicious.” This is believed to be the first homicide in the community.

It wasn’t the only death to make the news in Celebration this week.

On Dec. 3 at 2:20 a.m., deputies finally got into a Yew Court home after hours of negotiations. A Celebration man had barricaded himself inside the house, but when deputies got in there, they found him dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was later identified as Craig Foushee, 52. The previous day, deputies had spent more than 14 hours negotiating with Foushee, even sending tear gas into the house in an effort to get inside.

It started after Foushee, who was alone inside the house, indicated he might harm himself, the sheriff’s office said. As a precaution, several local streets were closed and residents in the vicinity of the house got evacuated.  Schools were put on lockdown, and deputies worked with school officials to ensure students could leave at the regular time.

Twis Lizasuain, public information officer for the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office, noted that this was done because Foushee shot at deputies several times earlier in the evening when SWAT team members tried a forced entry through his front door, and later during ongoing negotiations. Although no deputies were injured, Lizasuain noted that deputies didn’t return fire because they couldn’t focus on a target.

After more than two hours without any communication, deputies used a robot to locate Foushee, just before a SWAT team entered the house.

The sheriff’s office noted that this case isn’t related to the Celebration homicide investigation, and Foushee’s death was turned over to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for further investigation.

The two cases attracted plenty of local media coverage from Orlando area television stations, but also ended up making the national news as well. CNN Headline News covered the two incidents on Friday, with a special mention of Celebration being a town originally sponsored by Walt Disney World.

The incidents happened just as the Osceola County community was hoping for solid attendance for Town Center’s annual holiday events.

Now Snowing, as the ongoing holiday event is called, features the manufactured snow along with an ice rink, a remodeled Celebration Express Train and a “Winter Wonderland Spectacular” featuring strolling Charles Dickens carolers, photos with Santa, and horse drawn carriage rides. The snow falls nightly in Town Center at 6, 7, 8 and 9 p.m.

The month long holiday event includes a special Radio Disney Holiday concert on Saturday, Dec. 11 featuring All-Star Weekend and the winner of this year’s nationwide NBT contest on Radio Disney. The event ends with a New Year’s Eve Celebration including live entertainment starting at 6 p.m. and fireworks at midnight on Dec. 31. There will also be community performances in Celebration on Jan. 1-2.

To learn more about Celebration’s holiday activities, log on to www.celebrationtowncenter.com or call 407-566-4007.

Searching our bags and … what?! The Tea Party calls for an end to invasive airport pat downs by the TSA

ORLANDO – It used to be that the biggest complaints heard about airports had to do with long lines, bad food or delayed flights. These days, it could be something else: a gloved hand roaming where nobody wants it to go.

Say it isn't so: is airline security getting much too invasive?

“I think it’s outrageous,” said Doug Guetzloe, a member of the Florida Tea Party. “The one thing that is really amazing is your constitutional rights don’t end before you board an airline.”

National news coverage about the Transportation Security Administration’s pat downs of passengers hoping to catch their flight and land safely at their destination has provoked plenty of controversy, fueled in part by images on television and over the Internet of TSA security workers placing their hands where few passengers ever expected to get frisked – a pat down that a growing number of frequent flyers think is, well, below the belt.

The Tea Party is taking the debate a bit further, though, by calling for the federal government to abolish the TSA altogether and return to a free market system where the airlines handle security, not federal bureaucrats.

The invasive, intrusive and totally unnecessary pat downs, Guetzloe said, are a shining example of a federal government perfectly capable of making people’s trips more miserable, but doing little to prevent terrorist attacks on airlines.

“I think the TSA needs to be abolished,” he said. “This is something that needs to be stopped.”

What to do about the TSA's pat downs: how about abolishing the agency altogether, Doug Guetzloe says.

Florida Tea Party Chairman Peg Dunmire agreed, saying these so-called security measures violate the Fourth Amendment, which requires probable cause be established before someone’s privacy is sacrificed.

“This is not making us any safer,” Dunmire said.

TSA’s mission is to protect the nation’s transportation systems. On Nov. 21, TSA Administrator John S. Pistole issued a statement calling for the “cooperation and understanding of the American people” while the heightened security measures were being enforced. He cited Northwest Airlines Flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas day, 2009, as a prime reason for the pat downs. There was an unsuccessful terrorist attack planned for that flight, when Nigerian terror suspect Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab had a packet of explosive powder sewed into his underwear.

“We cannot forget that less than one year ago a suicide bomber with explosives in his underwear tried to bring down a plane over Detroit,” Pistole noted in his statement. “The terrorists allegedly behind the thwarted cargo attempt last month are out there bragging about how they will strike again.”

Guetzloe, though, countered that TSA is just blowing smoke when it claims these pat downs will protect anyone heading to Orlando International Airport or any other city to fly for the holidays.

“I don’t think these invasive activities have added to safety in the U.S.,” he said. “In the last eight years, I don’t think the TSA can point to any security successes.”

Guetzloe noted, for example, that Mutallab wasn’t prevented from getting on the flight to Detroit. The same was true with Richard Reid, the so-called “shoe bomber” who tried to destroy a plane in-flight by detonating explosives hidden in his shoes. In both cases, the terrorists failed to ignite their explosives before fellow passengers and crew stopped them from going any further.

“The attacks never occurred, but the TSA had nothing to do with the prevention of it,” Guetzloe said.

Besides, Guetzloe added, Americans are constitutionally protected from unreasonable searches – and having a security worker feel a passenger’s crotch and privates doesn’t have much to do with enhancing security, he added.

“They have been very intrusive, but it hasn’t protected anyone,” Guetzloe said of the pat downs. “Every time the TSA scans someone, America loses and the terrorists win. Americans have constitutional rights. Civil liberties are more important than a false sense of security. I didn’t even know you could search someone’s crotch like this. I don’t think our constitutional rights end because we enter a train or bus or airline. The bottom line is TSA has made no difference whatsoever.”

A better solution, Guetzloe said, would be to let the airlines themselves set security standards. If the airlines’ measures get too intrusive, they’ll lose customers, but at least the free market system dictates what passengers have to go through, he said.

“That’s the way it’s always been,’ Guetzloe said. “Airlines were always in charge of their own security until the government took over. I think there should be standards, but the airlines should set them.”

Are toilet paper rolls shrinking? Should we raise a stink about it?

CLERMONT — Ever look at your bathroom toilet paper holder and say “Wow, that roll looks really little?”
At the risk of being accused of having too much time on my hands, I have done just that. 

Say it isn't so: a wide holder, and narrower paper on your toilet roll?

Rolls tend to be not only shorter than they used to be, but more narrow. It’s not my imagination. I have made note of sizes available at one popular local supermarket and various public institutions and have visited (among other sites) www.toiletpaperworld.com.
One product there is described as being “one of only a few bathroom tissues that still has the original 4.5-inch x 4.25-inch sheet.”
The State of New Jersey, in a 1997 purchasing specifications document, stated that toilet paper sheets should be no less than 4.5 inches by 4.5 inches.
Luther Hanson’s job at the U.S. Quartermaster Museum in Virginia is to know about “stuff.” His title is museum specialist. He supplies the federal “Director of Procurement” standards for toilet paper from a document dating back to October 1937.
The Type I round rolls “shall be not less than 4 1/2 inches wide,” the document reads. “The paper shall be perforated at 5 inch intervals …”

The Type II sheet toilet paper is to be “interlocked in such a way that two sheets at a time will dispense …  sheets shall not be less than 4 1/2 by 5 1/2 inches.”  There is also an “oval roll,” but without any separate standards for sheet size.
So what’s out there now, and what’s needed “per use?”
In my informal survey of offerings, sheet width varied from 3.5 to 4.5 inches, sheet length varied from 4 inches to 5 inches, and the number of sheets per roll varied from 200 (a 3-ply variety) to 1,000 ( a 1-ply variety).

Mario Maltaise is chief operating officer for the Cellyne Manufacturing paper company in Haines City. They make toilet paper there, among other paper products. Most of Cellynne’s toilet paper ends up in public restrooms, where the wide sheets of the 1937 U.S. Director of Procurement (or, more recently, the State of New Jersey) are a thing of the past. In Cellynne’s line of toilet papers, the 3.5 inch width dominates, in 1-ply, 2-ply and a relatively cushy 1-ply variation known as double-layer.

Variety is the spice of life -- even when it comes to toilet paper rolls.

As Maltaise said in a recent interview, “The rules for the width, total length, distance between perforations, number of sheets per roll … varies
from company to company and depends on the market they are perusing … The (market) leaders are the ones that really dictate the offers to the different markets.

“The variation in all the sizes have different history in terms of timing, depending on the company that first gets the item out,” he added. “The others generally adjust to it. However, there are rules and norms to respect and companies have to adhere to them.  Actually, you can’t go under 3.5 inches (width) because the pressure dispensers would reject it.”
As for how many sheets are needed per use (or per day), the biggest hint is from that 1937 federal procurement standard: the generously-sized folded-sheet toilet paper had to be dispensed two sheets at a time, as in “light” jobs should not take more than two sheets. Kleenex seems to have made a similar determination when they designed their Hygienic Bath Tissue inter-fold system (not on rolls). Each of those sheets, according to the toiletpaperworld website, measures a generous 4.5 x 8.3 inches — the equivalent to roughly two of the largest standard sheets (sheets on a roll) or three of the smallest sheets.
So is there an advantage to the smaller sheets, beyond the potential advantage of actually using less paper?
The answer is a big, fat maybe.
Some years back, the federal government solicited comments on proposed changes to the 1994 revised standards on widths of public restroom stalls. The summary of comments reads, in part, that “people are becoming larger and the toilet paper dispensers are also becoming larger, and intruding into the 18-inch space.”
All things being equal, if the paper itself is narrower, and the jumbo roll dispenser it is put on can be narrower, it can be assumed there’s more room in the stall for the typical American’s ever-expanding rear ends.

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