HAPPYTOWN 


It’s March, and you know what that means: The silly season is here! Those brave vanguards of liberty we call Florida legislators are back in session, and this year – like always – there are a ton of terrible laws in the offing because this state isn’t screwed up enough.

What’s on the agenda this time around? The Jesus freaks who pushed the State Board of Education’s controversial decision to finally teach evolution – because the world is only 6,000 years old, you know – aren’t going gently into that good night. One of their own, State Sen. Ronda Storms, R-Jesusland, is introducing SB 2692, which she calls the “Academic Freedom Act.” Basically, her bill will let teachers teach any crackpot theory about how the world came to be, and “prohibits a teacher from being discriminated against for presenting such information.”

So long as they include our own theory – that the Flying Spaghetti Monster created a mountain, some trees and a “midgit” in one day, the rest of the universe in three more days, then took three days off – we’re fine with that.

Our legislators have some other relatively minor problems to deal with, such as a $2 billion budget shortfall, which means that unimportant programs that help poor people probably will be eliminated because we need more tax cuts. Then there’s higher education. Budget cuts at state universities may lead to heavier class loads, enrollment cuts, scholarship cuts and perhaps even an end to the system that guarantees you admission to a state university if you graduate from a community college. In other words, your kids’ degrees are worthless.

The Republican majority is also planning to dust off their pitchforks and try to run the Mexicans out, then let cities put red-light cameras at every intersection.

Oh, and if we’re lucky, we’ll get to redo the Florida Democratic primary, which means that Chris Matthews will camp out here for weeks on end, and maybe Hillary Clinton will cry at the Sanford Flea Market.

The whole Lou Pearlman saga is scheduled to wrap up March 6 with Big Lou pleading guilty to criminal charges. Which makes us kind of sad.

We’ve had great fun over the years writing about the Lou Pearlman experience (great band name alert), calling him out for being a scam artist back when the city was totally in love with him, buttonholing some of his partners in downtown elevators, counting cars in his parking lot, laughing at his plans to revive downtown, laughing at the Sentinel for
taking his plans to revive downtown seriously, etc. When it all went to hell in a handbasket and the creditors swooped in, we made sure to be among the hordes of unwashed touring Lou’s former Church Street Station offices. We put our feet up on his desk and farted in his chair.

And now it’s all over. Lou is sure to become very popular with the boys in the big house, and we won’t have him to kick around anymore. Sigh.

It’s high time someone reported on the huge Red Bull versus Roxy court case, don’t you think?

We got a Feb. 27 e-mail from what we imagine to be a very hyper Red Bull flack, announcing that the company had settled its federal lawsuit against Roxy (aka that bar on Bennett Road) for an undisclosed sum and a promise not to “pass off” other energy drinks as Red Bull again.

According to the press release, Roxy customers who asked for a Red Bull and vodka were given a knockoff energy drink and vodka, sorta like how bars everywhere mix Coke and Sprite and call it ginger ale. The horror. Some of these customers were apparently sober enough to distinguish the difference, and the Red Bull lawyers came to their rescue.

“We are doing everything we can to ensure that customers are receiving the quality and taste that they have come to know and expect from Red Bull by taking action against bars and restaurants who continually ‘pass off’ other beverages as Red Bull,” the press release assures.

The American system of justice has once again proven its worth, but can’t we go back to the days when barflies kept up their energy by doing blow in the bathroom stalls? Life was simpler then.

Perhaps the most ironic thing about the failure of the Hometown Democracy Amendment – that grand attempt by attorney/activist Lesley Blackner to allow you some say in the size of your sprawl – is that in the very process of its petitioning it may have proven that democracy doesn’t matter at all.

A late-night missive from one John Hedrick (one of the leaders of the managed-growth group Panhandle Citizens Coalition and a sprawl guy for the Sierra Club) that referenced both The Onion and the Third World for no particular reason crept into our in-box over the weekend. In it, Hedrick details 10 ways the state of Florida is trying to eat your babies and strip you of your rights. Among the issues parsed are sundry minutiae of petition law – including a system that doesn’t allow enough time between submission and certification, problems with the database, unfair petition denials and a shifty signature deadline mooted by an early Jan. 29 primary – along with just about every other analytical sour grape you could hope to pluck.

Hedrick, perhaps rightly, wants you to pressure the “people’s governor” into minding these Department of State affairs a little better next time (that would be February 2010). “And this would show that Florida isn’t already on the way toward becoming a Third World place,” he writes. “Or have we become this already?” ¿Que?

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


happytown@orlandoweekly.com

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