Happytown 


Just when we thought the Florida Legislature couldn't get any dumber … actually, we've never thought that.

This legislative session has been a cornucopia of Republican idiocy, helmed by a rudderless right-wing rabble in the state House and Senate and a governor too busy (thinking about) running for the U.S. Senate to govern. If Fox News had its own legislative body, this would be it.

So it's not at all surprising that every time you pick up a newspaper (which some people still do, apparently) there's a dateline from Tallahassee that makes your jaw hit the floor. For instance, the fact that these knuckleheads rejected $444 million in federal stimulus money — free money, you understand — earmarked for unemployment. Why?

"Once government provides that handout, it never takes it back," says state House majority leader Adam Hasner. What he means is that although Florida has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country — particularly among minorities — and the federal government offered that money for those not covered by the state's unemployment program, this would hurt small businesses because … honestly, there's no reason at all.

When the federal funding dries up, the Legislature will either have to rescind the new unemployment eligibility or find new resources for the unemployment trust fund, both of which involve the sorts of hard political choices these guys run from. So even though the federal government is willing to write a check to help out the least fortunate among us, our representatives in Tallahassee believe this is too great a burden to bear.

Even snowbilly Sarah Palin took the money. Florida is dumber than Alaska.

Speaking of stoopid, do you remember the one good thing Jeb Bush ever did? It was called Florida Forever, a state fund that bought environmentally sensitive land before developers could pave every inch of this state. It was the largest such program in the country. Now it's dead.

On April 27, GOP House leaders killed the $12 million appropriation. Some enviro-friendly senators had found $10 million for the program, and all they'd have needed to do was close a loophole that allowed companies to avoid paying some taxes on land acquisitions. But that made too much sense.

Instead, House GOPers said that it would cough up the money if the state Senate went along with its plan to drill, baby, drill all along the Gulf Coast, which would be great until there was an accident and oil soaked the beaches and destroyed our tourism industry.

The Senate said no. So the House GOP announced that you enviro-lovin' hippies can go fornicate with yourselves.

Then you can pick up one of the gazillion or so new license plates the state Senate approved last week.

Among those: State Sen. Gary Siplin's (Orlando pride, y'all!) "Trinity" plate, which features a nice big picture of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and benefits the Toomey Foundation for the Natural Sciences — because nothing says "natural sciences" like fundamentalist Christianity.

Not to be outdone, fellow state Sen. Ronda Storms of Valrico pushed through an "I Believe" plate to benefit an Orlando company that "funds faith-based programs at schools," says the St. Petersburg Times. Hello, separation of church and state.

Senate Democratic Leader Al Lawson gets props for successfully illustrating the vacuity of this entire charade. He offered up his own plate, with his very own picture on it. The plate, called — no kidding — "Can a Brotha Get a Break," would have benefited the State Employees Relief Fund "for the purposes of offsetting the salary and benefit cuts by the Legislature and providing grief counseling." Amazingly, the state Senate approved this plate on a voice vote — who reads this shit, anyway? — but Lawson had it pulled a few minutes later. He's so our hero.

You know who gets no props, ever? State Sen. Larcenia Bullard, D-Miami. That's the same Larcenia Bullard who famously inquired about animal "husbandry" `see "Our Dumb State," April 23`. Last week, she boldly declared that she would not support any license plate with an image of the devil: "What if someone comes next year and decides to vote on something that has the devil on it, and horns, horns on each side? I know that people are called the devil, but if the symbol of a devil is on it, I would not vote for that."

That's good to know, Senator.

Sexy Savannah, who made a lot of friends in these parts for talking about sex and pooping on the radio at both O-Rock 105.9-FM (RIP) and — as the lone girl Monster — at Real Radio 104.1-FM, seemingly disappeared last year when O-Rock collapsed (Happytown™, Jan. 10, 2008), but she never really went away. Where'd she go?

"Into the abyss," she says (aka: working as a waitress in a cocktail bar in Cocoa Beach). Big news! Savannah is really leaving this time, and quite possibly getting back into the business of being our most favoritest loudmouth redneck beauty queen ever.

Following an odd farewell appearance on the Monsters May 1, Savannah packed her wares and headed west to California. There she hopes to pursue a lucrative career in animated voice-over work. Seriously, somebody who used to do animation for Disney wants to work on a cartoon pilot featuring Savannah and Bubba "Whoop-Ass" Wilson — who just got fired by Clear Channel along with a whole bunch of people, so that's convenient.

Her parting words to her Orlando fans: "Thank you for everything! I couldn't have achieved any of this without your undying support! You liked me, you really liked me!"

Sobs. Now get out of here!

The city got its bullet-proof panties in a twist earlier this month when no less than Forbes Magazine included Orlando near the top of its worst crime areas list; we're No. 6!

The damage control machine took about a week to materialize, but when it did, boy oh boy! "In reviewing the Forbes report, the city of Orlando is a part of the Orlando-Kissimmee, Florida Metropolitan Statistical Area," the Orlando Police Department electronically balked. That would mean that Lake, Osceola and Seminole counties were lumped in with ours, and you know how nasty the 'burbs can be.

To illustrate their point, OPD produced a fairly pointless comparison showing how our crime numbers are actually improving, or at least were in 2008 over 2007. Violent crimes went down 10.31 percent, nonviolent crimes rose 2.72 percent and "Part II" crimes — arson and simple assault — dipped 1.39 percent (although arson was down 44.44 percent, meaning there were 35 cases instead of 63).

Of course, buried in there is the fact that there were actually four more murders in 2008 than 2007, but who's counting?

Jesus, that's who. Do you remember Operation Armor All, back in 2007? It was OPD's ill-conceived prayer vigil that supposedly fixed our crime problem and stuck flowers in the end of every gun barrel.

Well, the folks behind the National Day of Prayer — which is May 7, or today, blasphemer! — are still quite fond of the lobotomy that exercise nailed into our heads. They cite the police department's program as a huge success in their big presser for National Day of Prayer Task Force. Too bad it hasn't quite worked out that way (see above). Facts are so inconvenient sometimes, aren't they?

But why a task force? Because the God-haters at the Freedom From Religion Foundation sued the Jesus freaks for working "hand-in-glove" with the government back in 2008, a charge the Jesus freaks strongly deny. So now they have an Alliance Defense Fund and a "Save the National Day of Prayer" campaign. They, you see, are now playing the victim because they can't halt every school, government agency and airplane (wha?) for a quickie prayer.

Just pray for it all to end.

happytown@orlandoweekly.com

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