Happytown 

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It's been a while since we got re-motely excited about a 2-year-old's birthday party – yes we love unicorns, but there is such a thing as too many unicorns – so the fact that we're decking out Happytown™ HQ in catheters and stethoscopes and colostomy bags like it's some kind of sicko party drunk on anesthetics is something of a welcome novelty (and also kind of gross). Anyway, this not-so-terrible 2-year-old we're celebrating isn't as cute as it is necessary: March 23 marks the second anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, y'all, and not surprisingly the Democrats want you to know that, even though everybody's all atwitter about tampons and the pill right now, the ACA has already quietly been saving lives in Florida.

A report released on March 13 by President Obama's campaign spotlights the victories in the Sunshine State as follows: 4.7 million residents have already received free preventive care, 9.3 million Floridians have been protected from skyrocketing insurance rates or benefit caps, 960,000 kids with pre-existing conditions will not be turned away by insurance companies, other kids can stay on their parents plans through 26, Medicare is stronger, and women – yes, women – will not be charged increased rates because they have ladyparts. Awesome, right? And we haven't even made it through the U.S. Supreme Court yet!

To honor the weeklong occasion of this tiara toddler'sextended celebration, the Know Your Care campaign at Progress Florida is popping up all over the state to appeal to different demographics about what they know regarding their care (savvy Happytown early birds can hit up a presentation for young adults and kids at UCF on Wednesday, March 21). It's part of a larger strategy, naturally, to rev up support for Obama in a state that's about to have to deal with the worst party ever: the GOP convention in August. There won't be enough anesthetics in the world to take that pain away. Still, happy birthday, ACA! Next year we can let you out of the house.

We know how much everyone loves to bitch about how bad/lame/nonexistent public transportation is in Orlando. You know, in Portland they have light rail, and you can ride buses all around downtown for free and they even have bike racks on them. (FYI: Our Lynx buses aren't free, but they are equipped with bike racks.)

Well, when the city's latest efforts to transform itself into Portlando, Floregon, begin to take shape, we might have that, too.

Lymmo, the city's “bus rapid transit” system, lets people ride around downtown for free, but the route is limited. It runs from South Street up Magnolia Avenue to the Lynx Central Station on Amelia Street and back again, and it hits many of the downtown high points: the Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre, City Hall, the downtown drinking corridor.Plans are in place to extend Lymmo service as far east as Summerlin Avenue and as far west as South Westmoreland Drive, and Lymmo is also looking into further expanding its service north as far as Florida Hospital and as far south as SoDo. It has been surveying the community to gauge interest in these lines, which could potentially link Ivanhoe Village Main Street, College Park and possibly the Virginia-Mills neighborhoods via the Lymmo system.

“The East-West and Parramore connectors are starting construction this year,” says Ginger Corless, public outreach officer for Lymmo. “We're looking at finishing the surveys for the North-South connectors now, looking at how we could expand those loops. We do not have a funding mechanismfor the North-South like we did for the West-East, so we don't have an implementation plan for it yet.”

But the goal is to get as much community input and public comment as possible to bring to the Orlando City Council in April, the Lynx board in May and the Regional Transportation Authority in June. If you want to check out Lymmo's plans for expanded service, or add your voice to the public comments, visit lymmostudy.com.

Corless says that Lymmo is hoping to build on the much-vaunted SunRail plan, which will connect cities as far north as DeLand to those as far south as Poinciana. We don't know who would want to travel from Orlando to DeLand, but we do like the idea of traveling from, say, SoDo to downtown, or downtown to Ivanhoe Village, without having to think about parking. Lymmo, Corless says, would pick up where SunRail leaves off,taking people to specific points of interest along the SunRail corridor – a fact that's not lost on the merchant communities along the proposed new Lymmo lines.

Scottie Campbell, executive director of Ivanhoe Village Main Street, was recently at the opening for the Brice Stephens show at Twelve21 Gallery, trying to spread the word about Lymmo and its online survey. If Lymmo does expand its service along a North-South connector, Ivanhoe Village will be directly on its route – which could mean a potential joltof retail and residential interest in the neighborhood, which is already a little island of mixed-use activity. But rather than an island, better public transportation could make it part of an actual retail-residential corridor. In addition, he says, there could be benefits for areas that are traditionally overlooked by the city's big, shiny economic-developmentmachinations.

“You could accuse me of romanticizing the issue when I imagine people from low-income areas being able to travel to the hospital for free, but I can't help the thought,” Campbell says. “The impact could mean much more than safe bar-hopping, although that would be a plus.”

Portlando, ho!

Remember how, back in January, we reported that nine months after WMFE's board entered into a contract to sell WMFE-TV Channel 24 to some Christian broadcasters, the FCC still hadn't approved the deal? And remember how WMFE told us that it was feeling confident that the FCC was getting closer to an answer and that the board hoped for a “quick resolution” to the sale?

Well guess what just happened last week? WMFE asked the FCC to dismiss its petition to sell the channel to Community Educators of Orlando, an arm of Bedford, Texas-based Christian broadcasting company Daystar Television Network. Hal Boedeker reported in the Sentinel's TV Guy blog that WMFE CEO José Fajardo said that it “became clear to WMFE that the current deal we had in place was being drawn out longer than we anticipated”(no kidding) and that the market had improved during the past nine months, so the paltry $3 million Daystar was offering to buy the broadcasting license just won't cut it. WMFE-TV is still up for sale, but now the board is hoping to fetch a better price for the station.

Hopefully for WMFE it doesn't take as long for the FCC to dismiss the petition to sell the TV license as it has taken it to decide whether to approve the sale in the first place. Also, hopefully Jesus won't be involved anymore. He's a buzz kill and a deal breaker.

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