HAPPYTOWN 


;Time once again for the Happytown™ Editorial Board's endorsements! As always, if you elect the wrong people, don't come crying to us.

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;;State/local races

;;Governor: Jim Davis (D)

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;There are worse Republicans than Charlie Crist, for sure. But we're giving the nod to Jim Davis because Crist is Bush Lite, and at the risk of sounding like a political ad, it is time for a change. One example: Davis wants to de-emphasize the time-sucking monster that is the FCAT and get back to the idea that teachers should be teaching to kids, not to tests.

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;Attorney General: Skip Campbell (D)

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;As long is there is a breath in our collective body we will never, ever, endorse Bill McCollum for anything, unless he runs for dogcatcher. In Congress, McCollum was a tool of the credit-card and banking industries. Vote for Skip Campbell.

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;Chief Financial Officer: Alex Sink (D)

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;We don't know a lot about Alex Sink's political abilities — she's a Chiles Dem of tangential committee and civic involvement and the wife of Bill McBride — but she knows finance, thanks to the fact that she acted as Florida president of Bank of America and its 9,000 employees. Sink's main issue is property insurance, and she intends to protect the interests of consumers and small businesses. Her opponent, Tom Lee, is a Jeb lapdog and way too proud of the fact that he sponsored Florida's first "Choose Life" license plate.

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;State House, District 36: Scott Randolph (D)

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;Randolph is a well-spoken, people-friendly, issues-oriented Democrat with the outsider's drive and lack of beleaguered cynicism that seems to be required to make things happen in Tallahassee. He may have been a lobbyist, but he was lobbying for environmental issues.

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;State House, District 41: No endorsement

;;Steve Precourt and Bill McManus are both boobs. Precourt is a right-wing nutjob and McManus is, um, not as versed on issues as one would expect. Either way, you lose.

;;State House, District 49: John Quinones (R)

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;John Quinones deserves an endorsement not just for his record, but because his challenger, Ruth Raia, has not fought hard enough to win the hearts of voters. As of Sept. 15, she'd only raised $2,309, and all but $100 of that were personal loans to herself. If nobody else believes in her, then why should we?

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;State Senate, District 22: Lee Constantine (R)

;;Democrat Jeremiah Jaspon — who is literally "running" for the people — doesn't impress in televised interviews and seems a little too much like a gym-bound lawyer. We caught Lee Constantine at a cocktail party fund-raiser screaming into his cell phone, about to blow a gasket, a trait we can easily relate to. Plus he's funny in that Yosemite-Sam, Southern-guy way, and he's relatively moderate.

;;Orange County Commission, District 6: Tiffany Moore

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;It's a heavily gerrymandered African-American district that needs a strong representative. Political know-how doesn't hurt, but working in the trenches is ultimately what people want to see. Bruce Antone knows the ins and outs of local government, but Tiffany Moore has a stronger work ethic. And if another woman gets elected to Orange County Commission, the power dynamic will be very interesting.

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;Federal races

;;U.S. Senate: Bill Nelson (D)

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;Like anyone would endorse Katherine Harris.

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;U.S. Congress, District 7: John Mica (R)

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;Go ahead and vote for John Mica. He's going to win anyway. And he's not that bad for a Republican in a red-friendly district. Besides, we need all the advocates for mass transit we can get, and that's Mica's specialty.

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;U.S. Congress, District 8: Charlie Stuart (D)

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;Enough already with Ric Keller. He can talk about saving the Ocala National Forest or preserving Pell grants all he wants, but the reality is he's spent three terms playing lackey for George W. Bush, especially when it comes to the disaster we know as Iraq. Now that Bush's poll numbers have tanked, Keller is Mr. Independent? Not buying it. For once, Democrats have found someone with a brain to take Keller on.

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;U.S. Congress, District 24: Tom Feeney (R)

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;He's sleazy, ruthless, ethically challenged and Republican, but Tom Feeney's got one thing his opponent, Clint Curtis, lacks: sanity. Sorry, Dems, but you're going to have to put up someone better than Curtis to gain this wildly popular column's endorsement.

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;State Constitutional Amendments

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;;No. 1: No

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;This one's a bit inscrutable, but what it boils down to is whether or not we should limit the amount of nonrecurring revenue (windfalls) that can be applied to recurring expenses (say, education) to 3 percent. It's a bad idea. Think of your own budget: You win $500 from a scratch-off lottery ticket, but your wife has mandated that you can only spend $15 of that on beer? Bullshit!

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;No. 3: No

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;We're a bit conflicted about this amendment, which would require that all future amendments to Florida's constitution pass with 60 percent of the vote, as opposed to the current 50 percent-plus-one setup we have now.

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;The basic idea, as hawked by big-business lobbyists and a legislature hell-bent on consolidating its own power, is that it's too easy for you to insert things — like an amendment to protect pregnant pigs — into our founding document.

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;On the plus side, if this thing passes it will likely derail the proposed ban on same-sex marriage that will hit the ballot in 2008. However, it could also kill good amendment drives, like the class-size amendment. So for now, vote no.

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;No. 4: Yes

;;At issue is whether or not we should force the Legislature to spend more money from tobacco settlement payments on campaigns to keep kids from smoking. The answer: Duh. Right now the state spends a miserly $1 million of the approximately $360 million it gets annually from Big Tobacco — not nearly enough. Didn't you see Thank You for Smoking?

;;No. 6: Yes

;;If you read our recommendation on Amendment No. 7 below and think our thumbs-up on this one is inconsistent, note exactly who's getting the break here: No. 6 proposes an increase in the homestead exemption (from $25,000 to $50,000) for low-income seniors, the kind of people who need some slack just to keep their homes. Yes, somebody's gotta keep the leaves out of the pool, but that someone should not be low-income seniors.

;;No. 7: No

;;Should disabled veterans get (yet another) break on their property taxes? Sure they should. So should all veterans. And all veterinarians, and vegetarians, and Venusians and Vespa riders … you get the point. This is just another sop to the God-bless-America crowd, and it's one that will cost municipalities their ability to build roads and put cops on the street. Don't fall for it.

;;No. 8: Yes

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;This limits local governments' ability to take land via eminent domain and then turn it over to a private developer for "improvement," unless three-fifths of the legislature signs off. Redevelopment is fine, but you can't trample poor people to do it.

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This week's report by Jeffrey C. Billman, Jonathan Cunningham, Billy Manes and Bob Whitby.

; happytown@orlandoweekly.com

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