Happytown 

The week where Buddy Dyer wrote a rose-colored blog, Rick Scott sold more of his influence and we got to split hairs about the voter purge. The best week ever?

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Now that we're all bathing in the invigorating rays of superlatives, rubbing tanning butter (or, in some cases, gold body paint) up and down our loins in celebration as we await that perfect Zen moment of "Best-of" transcendence, it only seems appropriate that a little bit of that obnoxious euphoria rub off on some of those around us. Otherwise, we'd be having one of those one-man parties where you don't realize just how intoxicated you are, running off at the lips about this screenplay and that promotion "in the pipeline," before somehow losing your clothes beneath a bloody nose. Nobody likes that guy.

But what we didn't expect in our annual grand exchange of awesomeness was that our own Mayor Buddy Dyer would be taking to the Internets for a little civic gloating of his own. On July 11, Dyer popped up among the politically cantankerous (and hilariously unpaid) vanity plates of the Huffington Post to execute a thinly veiled victory lap for the City Beautiful – we're awesome! – before dousing it all in a cooler full of misplaced rhetoric.

Dyer's stated inspiration for his moonlighting essayist gig was the recent Forbes survey that declared Orlando to be "America's Next Boomtown," except Forbes didn't really rank us at No. 1 so much as it did rank us at No. 10 (beneath Phoenix, sadly). Regardless, in his painfully earnest piece, Dyer sniffed the good stuff and blurted out a bullet-pointed treatise on what makes us so much better than everyone else and how it is that we intend to continue glowing into the future.

"These bold predictions aren't some pixie-dust fueled mirage," Dyer mixed metaphors, like we often do. "They are the result of a decade of hard work by the Orlando community to diversify our economy beyond its base of tourism to create the industries and jobs of the future." In other words, I've got a legacy, and I'm going to use it someday to be governor. Dyer's laundry list included the old standbys like the Medical City, the Creative Village, SunRail and the venues, none of which are actually complete things yet, but who's counting. On his prosaic dismount, Dyer went on to decry partisan politics before engaging in that passive-aggressive version of humility so symptomatic of other HuffPo celebrities with iPads.

"The sad truth is Orlando's story, and our newfound 'culture of collaboration,' should not be remarkable," he faced downward while looking up to measure reactions. "We're not exactly splitting the atom here in Central Florida. Our success only seems remarkable because of the toxic political climate that seems to surround us all." Cough. Aw, shucks.

Then, the very next day, CNBC came out with its report on states that are attractive to business, and Florida took a pounding.

Based on calculations including access to capital (we're No. 24!), education (we're No. 42!) and infrastructure (we're No. 11!), the CNBC abacus showed Florida as a whole dropping from No. 18 to No. 29 in the span of just one year.

"Apparently CNBC analysts are looking at Florida without the benefit of rose-colored glasses," the Tampa Bay Times opined. Maybe Buddy has an extra pair?

Speaking of present and future gubernatorial nonsense, the News Service of Florida pored through the quarterly reports of Florida Gov. Rick Scott's loosely aligned Let's Get To Work campaign piggybank sidecar last week, and, wonder of all wonders, the political action committee took in $2.8 million in the second quarter, bringing its 2012 total to $3.8 million. Lest we forget, Scott isn't even up for re-election until 2014; that alone should raise a brow or two as to how this fundraising machine is calibrated. Surprise! The QuidProQuo2012, as we like to call it, seems to be working just fine!

In the last three months, Let's Get To Work (er, Gov. Scott) received nine contributions that broke six figures, and among them are many of the usual suspects that can afford to buy policy. Florida Power & Light Co., Everglades-hating-Blockbuster-failing-monster-investor H. Wayne Huizenga and creepy casino guy (and former Newt Gingrich bookie) Sheldon Adelson led the charge, each tossing in $250,000. Further down the list, influence peddlers like Florida Blue (health care is bad!), the Geo Group (privatized prisons are good!), U.S. Sugar Corp. (er, Big Sugar) and Progress Energy (nukes!) also made the more-than-$100,000 boys' club cutoff. Now, of course, none of this is of any consequence because Scott hasn't even officially launched his own campaign account for 2014 yet. This will do nothing to set the agenda during the next two years of his tenure. Nothing at all.

From the Happytowntm clarifications and corrections department: A few days after we published our blog post on federal Judge Robert Hinkle's ruling on Florida's controversial and misguided voter purge, we got an email from Ernest Canning, who guest blogs for left-leaning bradblog.com, telling us that our headline, "Federal Judge OK's voter purge," Bloggytown, June 28, was incorrect. The order, he explains, did not give Florida an actual thumbs up on its botched attempt to purge the voter rolls – rather, he says, it refused to grant the U.S. Department of Justice's request for a temporary restraining order to halt the purge because the state voluntarily agreed it wouldn't continue to pursue it.

"The attorneys for Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner walked into the federal courtroom, threw up their hands and surrendered," Canning writes. "There was no need for Judge Robert Hinkle to issue the temporary restraining order sought by the U.S. Department of Justice in order to stop what the DOJ described as an illegal, systematic purge of 'potential non-citizen' voters. Detzner voluntarily suspended the purge and promised the court it would not resume."

So while Scott and the state spun the decision as if it were a win for their side, that's not really true; rather Hinkle's decision acknowledges that it's the state's responsibility to keep accurate voter rolls and that it may indeed purge non-citizen voters from those rolls even if it's less than 90 days before an election, but that program should not challenge legally registered citizens who are voters. As this issue was going to press, Detzner and company were just granted access to a U.S. Department of Homeland Security database that could help them carry on with a more accurate purge.

Hinkle's decision concluded: "And because, as set out above, such a program could be pursued even within 90 days of an election, there is no reason to believe, at this point, that the secretary will engage in any future violation of the [National Voter Registration Act of 1993]." So not exactly the win for the state that many media outlets – OW included – originally made it out to be. However, we're naturally cynical here at Happytown™, and we can't help but think that there is every reason to believe that the secretary – or anybody else in the current state administration who thinks they can get away with it – would go ahead and violate that NVRA if it'd mean a win for their party in the upcoming federal elections. This is, after all, the same administration that reversed former Gov. Charlie Crist's work to make it easier for people convicted of non-violent felonies to eventually restore their right to vote. As a result, a recent report from the nonprofit Sentencing Project notes, one in five (!) black citizens in the state of Florida can't currently cast a vote, even if they've completely repaid their debt to society. What's another 20 percent or so?

We don't feel so great anymore.

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