When first alerted via a phoned-in tip that Winter Park is pondering shortening the city's bar hours, we were pissed; even had the headline picked out: "Blueblood bastion bans booze." Nice, eh?

But it turns out Winter Park isn't seeking to reinstate Prohibition; it just wants a bigger stick with which to whack bars that can't keep their patrons from disturbing the peace.

In a letter to local business owners, Winter Park city attorney J.E. Cheek III writes, "The City of Winter Park has faced a number of complaints and incidents arising from the activities of patrons of bars and restaurants serving alcoholic beverages until 2 a.m." The city has scheduled a meeting 9:30 a.m. April 21, at City Hall, 401 S. Park Ave., to discuss – and likely denounce – loud, drunken, boorish behavior. More's the pity.

But Clarissa Howard, the city's communications manager, says the city isn't seeking a blanket shortening of hours; it simply wants an ordinance that could roll back a particular bar's closing time if its patrons get rowdy. There have been complaints about folks that are "too loud, unruly and just causing a ruckus at 2 a.m. or 2:30," Howard tells us.

After the April 21 public hearing, the issue will come before the full city council May 8. In the meantime, if you must get trashed in Winter Park, do it quietly.

So guess who was the second most excited person at Orlando city commissioner-elect Robert Stuart's victory party April 11? Wrong. It was commissioner Patty Sheehan.

Sheehan and Vicki Vargo – the incumbent Stuart handily knocked off – aren't exactly buds.

"It's been so hard pretending to stay neutral," Sheehan told a Happytown™ scribe. Ah, but there's still time for a few of those classic Vargo-Sheehan feuds that made City Hall so entertaining these last six years. Stuart doesn't take office until June 1. "These next six weeks are gonna be hell," Sheehan says.

Speaking of Sheehan, the state attorney's office cleared her of any wrongdoing in an investigation spurred by a series of reports – which she called homophobic – by WESH-TV Channel 2 reporter Greg Fox in late February. Fox's reports centered around Sheehan's use of discretionary money that Orlando commissioners can give to groups they deem deserving. Sheehan gave $1,000 to the not-for-profit Gay and Lesbian Leadership Institute. She also gave $500 to the Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Local Officials group in the National League of Cities, of which she is president.

That got Fox's britches twisted. See, the Leadership Institute shares Washington office space with the Gay and Lesbian Leadership Victory Fund, a political action committee that helps gay candidates. The local officials group is also, not surprisingly, supportive of the Victory Fund. Since the Victory Fund has given Sheehan $1,400 for her campaigns, Fox alleged that Sheehan was – use your best anchor voice – USING TAX MONEY FOR POLITICAL PURPOSES!

Only she wasn't. As is the case with countless advocacy groups that have political arms, the nonprofit's money can't legally go to its political arm. Sheehan donated to a group that helps gay causes, and that's not illegal. But Fox didn't let that little nugget get in the way of a good story, and after his chest-thumping, the state attorney's office agreed to investigate. Now the investigation's over, Sheehan's in the clear and all the state attorney's office will say is that the city should reconsider allowing elected officials discretionary funds. Teapot, meet tempest.

The pro-choice contingent of our great state is finally demanding its own license plate.

Noting that the "Choose Life" license plate campaign has raised upward of $4 million, www.licensetochoose.org just launched its own attempt at bumper politics, asking budding political artists to submit, along with a $20 application fee, their own sketched musings about the fetal flap (see the website for details). Fees gathered by Sept. 1 will, the group hopes, add up to the $60,000 required for state submission. Proceeds from sales of the plate, if approved, would help groups like Planned Parenthood.

It all seems pretty obvious, really. But with "choice" sitting on Bush's cutting board, stock in wire hangers is probably on the rise. Just please don't submit a drawing of wire hangers. That would be gross.

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Here at Happytown™, we are aware of our fabulous and sexy nature; you ought to see what we're wearing right now.

Still, it's nice that someone else has finally realized just how fabulously sexy we are. Thank you, Laurent D., for inviting us to the grand opening of your new hair salon (the name of which we will not reveal, lest the sub-fabulously sexy get jealous).

A question: The invite lists three rules for "preserving the sexy," and item No. 2 states: "You earned your FAB status, now show it. Your social skills and conversation game need to be on point!" Does that mean we shouldn't scratch ourselves while discussing coat-hanger license plates?


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

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So I was walking home from the 30 bus on a recent Sunday afternoon when I came upon a car stopped at the light on Good Homes Road. "Hey," yelled one of the four young white males inside. "How's it goin'?"

Now, I'm used to getting yelled at from passing vehicles. As we've discussed before, this town isn't especially kind to the car-free. But these guys seemed nice enough; when I looked over, one of them flashed me the "hang loose" sign.

So I shot them back devil horns and a smile. To which one replied, "Yeah, fuck the niggers!"

I was a bit confused. To me, devil horns signify "rock on" or "hail Satan," not a racist comment. So I thought perhaps they recognized me from this semi-regular feature – maybe the week that Happytown™ placed a Nazi flag next to my head. And maybe these dudes couldn't read well enough to figure out that the flag referenced a different story, not mine.

I assure you, I'm not a racist. I think that all people – white, brown, black, whatever – pretty much suck. So please spare me your comments when you see me on the road. I often have to wait for buses in Parramore and Pine Hills, and I really don't want an ass-kicking.




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