Happytown toasts and roasts 2013 

Looking back at the best and worst newsy moments of the year

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JUST THE STATS

1,848

NUMBER OF BILLS, RESOLUTIONS AND MEMORIALS PROPOSED IN THE 2013 FLORIDA LEGISLATIVE SESSION. OF THOSE, 286 PASSED BOTH THE HOUSE AND SENATE CHAMBERS

3.8 MILLION

NUMBER OF FLORIDIANS UNDER THE AGE OF 65 WHO ARE CURRENTLY UNINSURED. THE REPUBLICAN LEGISLATURE REFUSED $51 BILLION IN FEDERAL MONEY FOR MEDICAID EXPANSION, WHICH WOULD HAVE COVERED NEARLY ONE MILLION OF THE STATE’S POOREST RESIDENTS

$400 BILLION

ESTIMATED ECONOMIC IMPACT OF THE ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE INDUSTRY ON THE U.S. ECONOMY IN 2010; $120 BILLION OF THAT CAME FROM DISTILLED SPIRITS


“I’M PROFOUNDLY SORRY TO LET DOWN MY FAMILY, PARTICULARLY MY WIFE AND SON, AND THE PEOPLE OF SOUTHWEST FLORIDA. I STRUGGLE WITH THE DISEASE OF ALCOHOLISM, AND THIS LED TO AN EXTREMELY IRRESPONSIBLE CHOICE. AS THE FATHER OF A YOUNG SON AND A HUSBAND TO A LOVING WIFE, I NEED TO GET HELP SO I CAN BE A BETTER MAN FOR BOTH OF THEM.”

– CONGRESSMAN TREY RADEL, R-NAPLES

Sources: Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, Florida Legislature, Washington Post

Oh, hey there! Don’t be alarmed; take off that coat. You’ve just stumbled into the swish and fizzle of our year-end deadline dangle, the sort of “taint” between what was and what will soon be that sends newsrooms into doubtful shame spirals typically requiring copious splashes of booze – which is convenient, because this week we pay tribute to the art of fucking ourselves up, like throughout this entire issue – in order to set our sights straight. So if it feels like this could be a tacked-on year-end affair, then you’re not doing it right.

Pour a drink! We’re about to get started with our official old-timey Happytown™ toasts to a political year we will soon forget (maybe tonight even?) and you don’t want to miss a minute of it. Nope, you’re not allowed to black out. We’re saving the cocaine for the end, Congressman. Ready? OK!

This first sloshy guzzle goes out to the evergreen target of Floridian rage, Gov. Rick Scott, who you may recall fell out of character for half a minute in the spring when he invoked his recently deceased mother as a means of explaining why we maybe should accept the $51 billion in Obamacare monies as a means of helping the poor get into Medicaid; also, the poor can vote, too! Then, of course, Scott withdrew back into his villainous shadow and pretended that he never said any of that, no sir. Oh, and also, let’s bring back the voter purge nonsense that was such an embarrassment last year; while you’re down there, let’s limit absentee ballot drop-off points so that democracy gets that much tinier. By the end of the year, Scott looked like he could use a drink when the statewide media began laying into his campaign job-growth claims – or Incentives for Nothing – sending him into a seizure and a holiday soup kitchen. Drink up, asshole!

Speaking of assholes, we have a special toast for our hatefuck frat-boyfriend, House Speaker Will Weatherford, who, in addition to dude-bro-ing Medicaid expansion out of bowl contention – even though he admitted that his family survived on the program at its darkest hour – went apeshit on the state’s pension program, calling it insolvent as he tried to force enemy public servants into 401(k) plans (even after an economic study proved him wrong). You don’t need facts with a smile like that, William. Drink!

A drink in the smirking face likewise goes to Sen. Marco Rubio for too many reasons to really mention here: the immigration flip-flop, the rampant gay-hating and base-baiting, the federal budget grandstanding and the Obamacare subsidy-mooching. Nobody cares what you think of President Obama shaking Raul Castro’s hand at Mandela’s funeral when you can’t even make up your own mind who you want people to think you are. This shot’s for you.

A genuine raise of the finest stemware goes to moneybags Mayor Buddy Dyer, who, without batting an eye, managed to convince county leaders – and not even just Orange County leaders – to pitch in to make his $84 million soccer stadium deal a paid-for reality. In the end, the Orlando City Soccer Club got its Major League Soccer franchise distinction (Ruckus!) and the poor old Citrus Bowl and performing arts center projects got to piggyback on the funding success, whether they deserved to or not. Well played, sir.

Less well played was the poor, sad fate of Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs, who, despite every behind-the-scenes string pulled – and despite State Attorney Jeff Ashton’s impish wrist-slapping – still came up smelling guilty for last year’s textgate fiasco. Good to know that your entire board of county commissioners was selling your interests to moneyed lobbyists, though, while simultaneously learning that cell phones are forever. Let the lobbyists buy this round.

Oh, shit. We are getting drunk!

Anyway, we’ll throw half a shot in shapeshifting-tanning-bed-of-smiles-and-handshakes Charlie Crist’s general direction. Even by Gov. Scott’s internal polling, Crist currently leads in the 2014 gubernatorial stakes to reclaim his hot seat, this time as a halo-headed Democrat. And even though he’s been characteristically elusive with the political specifics beyond being the “people’s governor” of platitudes – seriously, we chased him down for a week and only managed a selfie and a Springsteen song – he’s doing a good job pissing off his former party, and that’s always good.

You know who really gets the big glass of flavored vodka splashed with champagne this year, though, is the gays! For the first time in forever, Equality Florida and other gay rights supporters – including yours truly – managed to get a domestic partnership registry bill through an actual Florida senate committee. All of this came against the backdrop of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional while rolling back California’s gay marriage ban. Girl, we are swimming in this shot. Bring it, 2014!

We’d be remiss if we didn’t raise a glass to “For the People” power attorney and super-donor John Morgan. This year, Morgan raised the profile and the coffers of the state’s nascent medical marijuana campaign – something nobody would have believed could even be considered in Florida as recently as a year ago – to the degree that it’s currently on track to be a ballot measure next fall. Maybe Morgan gets a different kind of shot, dude.

Speaking of different shots, SeaWorld shot itself in the face this year when it reacted so poorly to the documentary Blackfish. So lost in the decades of bottom-lining for shareholders, splashing children and sweat-shopping plush toys was the company’s brass that it had no idea what hit it after CNN made the movie go wide, broadcast-style. “Damn activists and their lies,” was about as much as SeaWorld could muster while science laughed in its face. In this case, the orcas get the spoils; the theme park gets the hangover.

But the best hangover – and even a sympathetic shot – goes to Republican Naples Congressman Trey Radel, a self-confessed alcoholic (because that’s better than saying what he really is) who leans toward entitled “hip-hop conservatism” when not scoring eightballs in Washington, D.C., cocaine stings. On his own, Radel was this year’s punchline and sacrificial lamb, earning the ire of most Republicans who are now attempting to disappear him from Congress while he hides out in rehab. But what Radel really came to represent – beyond the hypocrisy of his support for drug-testing welfare mothers – was the inequity in criminal drug charges between the haves and the have-nots. That’s something we can
drink to.

Looks like we just did. Happy New Year.

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