HAPPYTOWN 


Return with us now to the woods near the intersection of John Young Parkway and Princeton Street for the continuing saga of the city of Orlando versus a bunch of homeless people living out there.

As you may recall from last week’s column, the city gave the homeless, many of whom have lived out there for years, a deadline of April 28 to pack up and get out after obtaining a signed trespass warrant from the owner of the property, an Ohio bank. That deadline was extended to May 6 to give the people more time to find a place to go.

That’s harder than you might think, because area homeless shelters are full, and because some of the people living in the woods are sex offenders. The Florida Department of Corrections, which monitors sex offenders on probation, knows they are there.

“When an offender says, ‘I am going to live here,’ the probation officer will have to say this is within the conditions of his probation,” says DOC spokeswoman Jo Ellyn Rackleff. “As long as they are there at curfew.”

Restrictions on where sex offenders can live mean there very few places sex offenders can reside, Rackleff adds. “Some of them simply cannot find a residence within the area they are allowed to live.” In Miami-Dade County, that meant that a group of sex offenders ended up living under the Julia Tuttle Causeway. In Orange County, many head for the woods.

Meanwhile, Orlando Direct Action held a protest at the site April 24. Activist George Crossley thinks the city is harassing the woods-dwellers as retribution for not being able to stop group feedings of the homeless at Lake Eola Park. “They say, ‘We can’t attack these people over here, so we will attack these helpless people over there to show how tough we are,’” Crossley says.

Another April, another press conference in front of the Catholic Diocese of Orlando to make public the case of a priest accused of sexually molesting children.

Last April, we were there when SNAP – Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests – detailed allegations against Rev. Carlos Bedoya, pastor of St. Clare Catholic Church in Deltona. This time around SNAP was in town to flog a recently filed civil lawsuit against the diocese for not stopping the Rev. Jose Mena, formerly a priest at the Resurrection Church of Christ in Winter Garden, from molesting a 10-year-old boy identified in the suit as John Doe. The abuse took place in the ’70s, according to the suit, but Mena had been molesting boys since the 1960s. The diocese knew he was a threat to children, but took steps to conceal the fact.

“We have yet to see in any diocese, including Orlando, that the church did the right thing,” SNAP president Barbara Blaine said at the press conference.

The plaintiff in the case, who lives in Orlando, according to Blaine, is seeking damages in excess of $5 million. Mena, now 79, lives in a retirement home in Jacksonville.

Think you have to go to a bar to find love? Wrong, wrong, wrong. It turns out that Orlando women would rather meet guys at a coffee shop or church! (Don’t discount local meat markets, though; they’re still a great place for booty hunts, as long as you don’t mind holding her hair while she pukes.)

The experts over at AXE deodorant – ahem – conducted a less-than-scientific survey of Orlando women to pimp their new “pocket-sized deodorant body spray that helps guys act fast during unexpected mating game opportunities.” --Translation: She’s eyeing you up but you’re nervous because you haven’t had any in a long time and you smell like a gorilla. And it turns out that the fairer sex just isn’t into the bar scene.

Only 17 percent of Orlando girls met the last guy they dated at a bar, and 21 percent say they’d be embarrassed to tell their families that tidbit. Wholesome Orlando girls are telling guys to head to coffee shops, bookstores, the gym or church to hit on them. (We recommend passing a note to the hottie in the next pew during the sermon, when everybody’s daydreaming anyway.) Another 23 percent like to meet mates at the grocery store, and a few oddballs say they’ve met dudes at a doctor’s office or at a funeral parlor. (Mourning chicks are emotionally vulnerable.)

Wondering why you’re not getting any? Fifty-five percent of Orlando girls said guys come off as players, while 23 percent said guys miss their chance by saying or doing nothing.

Another 63 percent of Orlando women say summer is when they’re most likely to have “carefree, fun and romantic flings.” We’re interpreting that as no-strings sex, so keep that in mind as you’re getting ready for church this summer. The lucky season is upon us.

It wasn’t exactly an angry
mob with clenched fists, but the Florida Demands Representationwhich is in no way a cute acronym or a flagrant Hillary umbrella – rally on April 26 at the Walt Disney Amphitheater at Lake Eola Park was a very gay attempt at keeping Clinton’s hopes alive in the presidential race, by getting the votes registered Jan. 29 to actually mean something.

Emceed by Michael Wanzie and former city council candidate Jeff Horn, the event interspersed rhetoric with cabaret, all while tap-dancing around the fact that only about 30 people showed up. Organizer Margot Dixon told us beforehand that she expected U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer to show, but neither did.

County commissioner Linda Stewart was there (in very tight pants) to scream some things and let people know that she’d be taking her message to Washington, D.C., on April 30 with thousands of others. Also in attendance: a man named “Cowboy” in a decorated wheelchair. “I didn’t know we were going to have floats!” joked Wanzie. Ouch.

Orlando is a lot of things – mean, touristy, conservative – and now it’s one more! On April 23, the city announced that it had been handpicked (along with Orange County and OUC) by the U.S. Department of Energy to be one of 12 Solar American Cities.

To seal the deal, the DOE will bequeath our loosely defined region with $200,000. Big deal. Outfitting one small home with solar panels runs about $20,000. The Alameda County Fairgrounds in California spent $4.6 million to go solar in 2003. So the $200,000 is enough to pay for a commercial about being a Solar American City.

“Part of the grant goes to research and development,” city spokesman Carson Chandler explains. He says that the city’s public works department will be looking to see just which roofs should be paneled to reach the goal of 15 megawatts by 2015. For now, it’s all about things like synergy, insight and integration. In other words, hot air.

This week’s report by Billy Manes, Deanna Sheffield and Bob Whitby.

happytown@orlandoweekly.com

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