If you can’t beat them, hit them harder.

Lake Eola Park – typically home to bellicose swans and anti-war rallies – was transformed into a battlefield March 22 when leap year falling-man Brian Feldman headed up Orlando’s own entry into the international pillow fight day, Pillowlando, drawing about 100 hungover hipsters out of their Adderall comas for a bit of regression.

It was hapless, pointless fun, which was the intention. We were unfairly attacked at least twice, but were saved by our official Happytown™ miniature pinscher, Josephine, who likes to growl at anybody with ironic facial hair. At one point, a stuffed bunny fell from the sky ears-first. Seriously.

Speaking of Lake Eola Park, don’t you just love the Orlando Food Not Bombs kids? We do, if for no other reason then the fact that Orlando city commissioner Patty Sheehan must be ready to blow her cork every Wednesday when Food Not Bombs feeds the homeless at the park with seeming impunity, despite the city’s ridiculous ordinance banning such feedings.

And just to dig its thumb in the city’s eye a little harder, Food Not Bombs has added another group feeding in the same spot. Now, on Monday mornings, the homeless and hungry can get breakfast in the delightful surroundings of one of the city’s loveliest parks. One source told us that 40-50 people per week are already showing up to do just that. Imagine how that must irritate Sheehan.

If you believe that what a person reads speaks volumes about his outlook on life, then you might find the “What Leaders Read” page at the Orange County Public Library’s website interesting.

For instance, did you know that Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer’s favorite book in the whole wide world is … the Harry Potter series, because “it appeals to adults and children alike. It is an escape to a world of make-believe with intricate plot lines.” In other words, Central Florida’s most visible politician is one of those dorks who dresses like a prepubescent wizard and stands outside the Barnes & Noble at midnight waiting for the Harry Potter Dictionary.

So what else does Buddy dig? Leadership, by Rudy Giuliani, and The Rise of the Creative Class, by Richard Florida. So, our mayor likes a book by a Republican trying to prop up his ultimately doomed presidential bid, and another by a guy who says that if you make cities “hip” and spend exorbitantly on cultural amenities you’ll attract lots of new businesses and yuppies who live in downtown condos and everything will be great. We’ve heard this before, right?

In related news, Orange County Mayor Rich Crotty is all about The Purpose Driven Life, and Orlando commissioner Patty Sheehan digs Carl Hiaasen. State Rep. Scott Randolph is into Franz Kafka and Richard Adams’ Watership Down. Of course he is.

From a letter in Happy-town™’s mail slot: “Dear `Happytown™`: Don’t be surprised if the next person you date asks for your Safe Sex Passport!” WTF? We got tested like two months ago and we’re clean, but we do have this weird blister on our … never mind. So this passport, how do we get one?

From SSP BioAnalytics, a company whose press release and website – www.safesex
– has lots of scary statistics, like: “One in five of your readers will be affected by an STD at some point in their lives.” Clearly they have underestimated the promiscuity of our readership.

The website promotes what sounds like one of the dumbest schemes ever. Basically, you get yourself tested for HIV and other nastiness every six months, then you pay $75 per six months (tests not included) so these guys can mail you a little card that says you’re as clean as spring rain. Then you show it to your prospective hookup, they flash theirs, and you hump like happy little rabbits.

And we thought the fear of imminent death was all that was keeping the kids’ pants on.

Desperate times call for desperate Democratic measures, and at Saturday’s kickoff planning meeting for the Orange County chapter of Florida Democrats Demand Representation (FD2R – ha!) at the I-Drive Holiday Inn, desperation was about the only thing in attendance. That, and one lady in a cowboy hat with a “Hillary” button on it.

The brainchild of Tampa marketing guy Jim Hannagan – who claims to have flown from his other home in Massachusetts to vote for Hillary in the Jan. 29 primary – FD2R is hoping to gather some 1.5 million signed petitions (72,000 from Orange County) to slap on Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean’s desk. According to Hannagan, the unseating of the Democratic delegates is akin to cursing the valiant efforts of America’s original colonists.

“I was so frustrated with what was going on,” he said. “It just defeats the principles that were instilled in me.”

The group claims to have received more than 7,000 petitions in just 12 days. Hannagan understands that this may all be an expensive dance with futility, but doesn’t seem to mind. “The worst thing for democracy is apathy,” he says. If you’d like to join Hannagan’s crusade, phone him at 800-684-7571. Or just sit on your fat ass like you always do.

Last year the state’s clemency board approved new rules to automatically restore civil rights to most convicted felons that have served their time.

The problem? It’s not really happening. Instead the Parole Commission has been slowly reviewing each case, then restoring rights, instead of granting automatic, paper-free rights restorations. The Florida Rights Restoration Coalition (which includes 50 or so civil-rights groups, including the ACLU) will rally in Tallahassee April 1 to demand automatic restoration and ask the government to remove employment barriers for those with felony convictions. Coalition members say occupational license restrictions on felons ordered to pay restitution and other court costs should be loosened so that they can find gainful employment.

“Without meaningful employment licensing reform and clemency reform, close to one million Florida citizens with past felony convictions will remain locked out of society without the fundamental right to vote, access to quality employment opportunities and an improved quality of life,” says activist Nathaniel A. Toler.

The sooner ex-felons have their rights restored, the better, because this is Florida and there are elections to foul up.

This week’s report by Jeffrey C. Billman, Billy Manes, Deanna Morey and Bob Whitby.




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