HAPPYTOWN 


;OK, maybe we were a little premature in proclaiming the death of the Orlando Performing Arts Center [Happytown™, April 13]; it appears that somebody actually has some plans for the thing after all.

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;;OPAC board members finally clued us all in May 24 with a slide show detailing what in the hell they've been doing for the last 18 months. What did they come up with? An expertly designed downtown structure with three main halls and an outdoor plaza dotted with shops and restaurants that's going to cost $376 million.

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;How, exactly, are we going to pay for that? With a mishmash of public and private monies, including some $75 million in private donations and $300 million from tourist tax, if the county commission succeeds in raising it from 5 percent to 6 percent.

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;At the wrap, OPAC board prez Jim Pugh said that now's the time for advocacy. Pugh then singled out the Orlando Sentinel, and specifically reporter Mark Schlueb, to put out the good word for them.

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;He couldn't have picked a better organization for the job, wethinks.

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;Time for a Happytown™ public service announcement. Hey, acid heads: The Drug Enforcement Agency has thoughtfully pointed out that a large amount of what appeared to be LSD on paper seized recently in Orlando and Winter Springs was, in fact, not acid at all, but rather an exotic phenethyl-amine known as DOI, an amphetamine-based analog of the more common designer drug 2C-I.

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;;Normally we wouldn't harsh your mellow with bulletins from the Man, but you should know that the effects of DOI can last for 16-30 hours, more than twice that of LSD, and we wanted to make sure that nobody expecting a three-hour tour ends up on the Gilligan's Island of research chemicals. The DEA notes that this is the first time this particular chemical has been discovered in the wild (go, Orlando!). The drugs in question are described as "green index card–like paper with hash marks," in the DEA's Microgram Bulletin. What, you don't subscribe?

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;Does mega-developer Cameron Kuhn dislike brown people?

;;On April 4, 18 members of a janitorial team filed complaints against Kuhn Management with the Florida Commission of Human Relations and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging discrimination based on race, color, national origin and retaliation for previous complaints.

;;In January 2004, Kuhn Management hired Manuel Crisostomo as its quality control director. Crisostomo says he was the only Hispanic manager in the company. According to an affidavit provided to Orlando Weekly, Crisostomo complained to his supervisors that another manager, Ray Jordan, used racial slurs against him and his team.

;;Crisostomo resigned earlier this year. After that, he says in the affidavit, his managers told some of his friends at work that they were going to offer Crisostomo three months of severance pay to keep him quiet, but that deal went off the table when Crisostomo filed a complaint. Then, Crisostomo alleges, managers spread rumors to his friends, including that they found evidence on his computer that he was having an affair and that they were investigating whether or not he falsified payroll documents.

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;"This is totally untrue, and an attempt to really hurt my name in the community," he says in the affidavit.

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;Kuhn spokesman Rich Roland hadn't heard of the complaint, but he found any discrimination complaint against Kuhn's company "amazing" because about half the workforce is of minority ethnic origin. Kuhn hires "the right people," no matter their color, he says.

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;Fun facts* about IKEA, which last week announced it was building a store in Orlando:

;;• More copies of the IKEA catalog have been printed than the Bible!*

;;• In some European countries, you can buy a "flat-pack" house from IKEA, some assembly required.*

;; • When a Tempe, Ariz., IKEA store opened in November 2004, traffic was so bad on nearby Interstate 10 that the Arizona Department of Public Safety had to close the nearest off-ramp.*

;;All of which makes us ever so excited about this Swedish furniture retailing giant. And here's another fun fact: Contrary to what you read in the Orlando Sentinel last year, IKEA didn't have plans to come here until recently. The Sentinel reported Jan. 24, 2005, that IKEA had purchased 30 acres near the Mall of Millenia.

;;But the paper was wrong, says IKEA spokesman Joseph Roth. "I am 100 percent positive it just wasn't true."

;;The Orlando Business Journal wrote a story denying the rumor in April 2005, and the Sentinel followed up this year with a story in February saying IKEA wasn't coming to Orlando, all of which is enough to give you IKEA whiplash. Which is still preferable to being trampled to death at an IKEA,* like three poor souls in Saudi Arabia were.

;;* "Facts" lifted directly from Wikipedia. We've all learned that Wikipedia is not always 100 percent accurate, but seriously, do you really expect us to spend time researching whether or not more copies of the IKEA catalog have been printed than the Bible?

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;And now it's time for another installment of What's up with Ric?™, our attempt to keep you up to date on the comings and goings of Orlando's favorite Congressman, U.S. Rep. Ric Keller!

;;This week's episode finds Ric on the losing side of a May 25 vote in the House Judiciary Committee to keep the Internet equally accessible to all.

;;The Internet Freedom and Nondiscrimination Act of 2006 says, in essence, that the most inconsequential blog will remain as accessible on the Internet as the fanciest corporate website. It's a concept called network neutrality, and it means the guys with the big pipes (telecom companies) don't get to decide that someone gets better service by paying for it.

;;Telecoms have been waging a media campaign against the act, saying it amounts to government regulation of the Internet that will stifle competition. But a bi-partisan bloc of six Republicans and 14 Democrats called bullshit on that, voting for it, while 13 legislators — our Ric included — voted against it. The next stop for the act is the House floor.

;;Thanks for trying to sell the Internet to the highest bidder, Ric!

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