Know your candidates: Part Three 


With Tuesday's mayoral runoff election fast approaching, Dog Playing Poker hereby endorses candidate Pete Barr, Sr. This position may seem markedly out of step with the ideological thrust of this paper -- and, indeed, of the position taken by the "news" department elsewhere in this very issue. But the ability to speak with a contrarian voice is one of the fundamental freedoms of alternative publishing (and moreover, of a column location that's directly across the aisle from this week's dating tips for Scorpios).

As you may know, Barr's campaign has been the target of some serious allegations in recent weeks. City councilwoman Patty Sheehan claims that the candidate made some insensitive remarks in her presence -- specifically, that women are unfit to hold public office, and that the most serious problem facing the Parramore neighborhood is "all the niggers lining up at the trough." She also says that Barr referred to a certain element of our fair city's population as "fags."

I, for one, am wholly satisfied with Barr's response that he said no such things, nor would he ever. As he tells it -- and really, why would he lie? -- he hasn't used the notorious n-word since he was a wee lad in the first grade. For this change of heart and habit, Barr credits his family's beloved housekeeper. (Let's call her Beulah; the Barrs most likely did.) One can easily imagine the exchange:

"Master Pete, that is one evil word that just left your lips. If you ever again get it into your head to use a word as hateful and offensive as that one, you had best make certain first than there are no colored folk anywhere in the room." Sage advice, which this conscientious politician appears to have obeyed to the letter ever since.

I find it more likely that councilwoman Sheehan merely misheard candidate Barr. Isn't it entirely possible that, rather than professing resentment toward any so-called "niggers at the trough," he was merely attempting to express his deep distaste for nibblers in a similar situation? Think about it: If you're lined up at a trough, eager to feed, the last thing you want to have to do is jostle for position with someone who's only going to nibble when he gets his chance. You're a gobbler, and by God, you want to share your space with other gobblers. There's no room for nibblers at Parramore's trough, or at any trough. It's just common sense.

Neither do I believe that Barr thinks females should stay out of government. In his 68 years, I'm sure he has registered admiration for many a fine meter maid and courtroom stenographer. As for the "fags" comment -- well, why would he want to impugn the sweet and gentle people who brought us "Cats?"

It's easier to fall in line with Barr's suspicion that this "controversy" is merely a diversionary tactic on the part of Buddy Dyer's campaign, which Ms. Sheehan supports. As Barr convincingly argues, it's a deliberate attempt to redirect the public's attention away from the real issues -- just like that one Dixie Chick who thinks that changing her hairstyle every few months will make us forget she's got a fat ass. In both cases, the message of his campaign should be the same: It's not working, lady.

And isn't it odd that Ms. Sheehan has waited until now to levy these vile charges? If she's so morally outraged, why didn't she object to Barr's alleged comments before he made them? I think an explanation is in order.

Further, I perceive no theoretical "smoking gun" in candidate Barr's alleged propensity for vulgarity, which his own advisers have reportedly been running themselves ragged to curb. Salty language, after all, is a part of life. And if this esteemed member of the community, while in attendance at a house of the Lord, wants to declare that someone he doesn't like is an "asshole with a capital 'A,'" isn't it his privilege under the Constitution to do so? Fuckin'-A right.

It's time to stop the sleazy politics and focus on the real issues Barr has been trying to push to center stage. Take transportation. How can we pronounce ourselves a world-class living environment when I-4 traffic is at a standstill? If Barr were here right now, I'm sure he'd point out that this is a city that's going places, and we can't get there acting like we're all on colored-people's time. Then there's the matter of the outrageous pension Mayor Hood is going to be raking in long after she's left Orlando to its own devices. The pundits have questioned Barr's claim that her payout will be a whopping $126,000. Guess what? They're right! My own research has revealed that the candidate's estimate was too low. The actual figure is closer to $2 trillion, or roughly one-third of the national debt. Once again, allow me to speak for the campaign: If you wanted to blow that much of your hard-earned money on a cunny, you'd put Anna Nicole Smith in your will.

As Barr has so wisely observed, it's time to start running Orlando like a business, one that provides an affordable service while adhering consistently to company-wide standards of fair play. (Denny's, for example.) All the smear campaigning in the world can't obscure the vision this forward-thinking candidate has for Orlando's revitalization. It isn't just a Parramore where our darker citizens gather at the trough, Ms. Sheehan. It's an East Colonial Drive where the gooks mingle at the buffet table, and a Lake Eola Park where the peckerwoods belly up to the barbecue. Ethnic diversity and overeating -- that's the Barr revolution in a nutshell.

OK, so 11 paragraphs of sarcasm is enough for anybody to swallow. (Note to Barr legal team: "Sarcasm" means you can't sue. Better luck next week!) But there is a kernel of sincerity to the aforesaid endorsement, and it lies in the all-American ideology that politics equals self-interest. If Buddy Dyer prevails, we're looking at more than a year of accomplished, even-tempered, fairly progressive leadership. And where's the fun in that? More to the point, where's the material for a humor column? It's a grim prospect, especially when the alternative is electing a guy who makes Marge Schott look like Susan Sarandon. Our ancestors invented a word for such a potential windfall: They called it "Christmas."

This Tuesday, don't just vote your conscience: Vote my job. Together, we can legitimize Barr's unique vision. We can make Orlando a wonderland of opportunity for every wiseacre, welfare queen, rug-muncher, sissy-Mary and asshole with a capital 'A.' Which way to the trough?


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