Ok, so here's the part where you press your fingers to your eyelids and wait to see stars if you have no interest in terms like “gerrymandering” and “redistricting.” In fact, you may have already done that sometime during the past year when you realized that your Republican legislators – despite the traveling choreography of yawns suggesting otherwise – didn't really care what you had to say about how your votes line up in the nonsensical tapestry of district lines. The good news: Everything was virtually settled last week when the Florida Supreme Court validated the legislature's mulligan go at redrawing state Senate maps after being shot down earlier this year. Nothing to see here! Everybody just line up and qualify where you're supposed to, candidate-types. Justice – and “Fair Districts,” the one seeming Democratic victory in the 2010 election – has been served.
But it doesn't taste so good. Just ask Orange County Democratic Party leader and state Rep. Scott Randolph, D-Orlando, who admits that, “Unless you're a mathematician, redistricting is boring.”
On May 1, Randolph took to his Facebook account with this missive: “Well downtown Orlando, on Friday the Florida Supreme Court approved you going into a district 75 percent in Brevard. Now the Leon Circuit Court has approved you going into a Congressional district in Lake County. We just suffered a left hook and then a right hook thanks to the Florida courts.”
Yikes. According to the Miami Herald, the Supremes shot down a liberal lawsuit against the latest redistricting maps on the grounds that the case “failed to demonstrate that the revised Senate plan as a whole or with respect to any individual district violates Florida's constitutional requirements.” In other words, we just didn't have much time to listen to said arguments, really.
What that means for those of us living anywhere near downtown Orlando is that we're now suffering a sort of political schizophrenia. Rather than being a compact district that leans heavily to the left, we're now two diffuse situations depending on what office you're talking about: your state senator is likely to be somebody representing the beachcombers of Brevard County, while your U.S. Congressman will be wearing a cowboy hat bought in Lake County. Hooks all around!
“They've attempted to wipe out our influence, which is tough for Democrats in Florida,” Randolph says. “Orlando is a high-turnout area and has a high donor base.” People are less likely to either vote or cut a check in this confusion, he adds.
Republicans, of course, danced a jig of justice, leaning on the idea that somehow all of this improves their standing with black and Hispanic minorities, because that's the sort of shredding machine they feed their talking points through.Which is odd, notes Randolph, considering how hard the Republicans have worked at removing voting rights from minorities. Anyway, what we end up with is a sad situation that we're stuck with for 10 years (the Congressional lines may be reconsidered upon challenge before the 2014 mid-terms).
“Some districts are created more fair than others,” Randolph sighs. There is no fair in politics.
You may not have noticed, seeing as you're presently unemployed and homeless and selling handies in Parramore to get your daily fix of meth and Red Bull, but it turns out Florida is a hot spot for businesses. Well, not businesses so much as the raging assholes who run them. Last week, something called Chief Executive magazine, which we absolutely read every week/month/whenever it comes out, honest, rated Florida the No. 2 state in the nation for CEOs. This is up from our 10th-place ranking just four years ago (when, um, the unemployment rate was 5.7 percent, as opposed to the current 9 percent, so thanks, CEOs!). And why are we so grand?
Basically, good weather, no taxes, unions or regulations, and a bunch of poorly educated illiterates who will work for scraps – a corporate overlord's paradise! (Coincidentally, the top-10 states are all run by Tea Party yahoos. Imagine that.) Also, according to the mag, “New tax relief – and boosterish Gov. [Rick] Scott – excite owners and executives.”
But we are, of course, No. 2 when it comes to coddling the 1 percent, and this, Gov. Scott says, he cannot stand. He's gunning for you, Texas, which has held the title of most plutocrat-friendly for the past eight years. Last year, after Florida ranked third, Scott penned a letter to Gov. Rick Perry, saying, “I am certain that Texas' days at the top are numbered. Florida has eliminated job-killing regulation, reducing the size and cost of government, and making sure we have the best-educated workforce [ Ed. note: Ha!]. We have no personal income tax and are phasing out the business tax …”
From now on, your state government will be paid for with pixie dust and angel farts. Or pixie farts and angel dust – yeah, that sounds better. Anyway, hope you like serfdom, everyone!
Also, hope you like your domestic partner! After millions of hours of schoolmarmish tongue-clicking, on May 4 it was hinted that Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs might finally be moving forward with the same damn domestic-partner registry we've been talking about for more than a year. We weren't sure whether to believe the rumor,so we reached out to county spokesman Steve Triggs, and he straight confirmed it!
“The mayor's goal is to get this on the agenda for May 22,” he says (not realizing that May 22 is Billy Manes' 40th birthday – gay!), “so we're still on track to get it done before GayDays.”
What exactly the county's ordinance will look like in comparison to the city's remains to be seen, although a draft is supposed to surface sometime this week.
“I've talked to them about several of these issues they've been investigating,” says Orlando Anti-Discrimination Ordinance Committee leader and attorney Mary Meeks. (Full disclosure: Meeks is representing Orlando Weekly's Manes on an unrelated matter.) “I don't know what it's going to look like. … At the end of the day, I don't think they're going to change much from the city's ordinance.”
Which is kind of a bitter pill considering how much work the OADO has put into convincing Jacobs, and how much hell this publication has given her.
“After a year and a half of waiting, what I think she is going to do is exactly what we asked her to do,” Meeks only half-laughs. Some skulls are thicker than others.
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