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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Awake the State welcomes the legislative session with a dissonant chorus of gripes

Posted on Tue, Jan 10, 2012 at 6:40 PM

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Oh, hey! So we just got back from a little bit of raucous community organizing in the name of every progressive cause possible, and let's just say it was LOUD. Just like they did last year, the folks at Florida Watch Action (the same collective responsible for Pink Slip Rick) and Organize Now! called on the dirty-fingernailed, shoe-leather, politically active big guns to voice their frustrations with Florida's completely incongruous state government – most notably the bald, twitchy oligarch known as Gov. Rick Scott. The Orlando rally, held outside the "Progressive Center" on East Colonial Drive (near the Magnolia intersection) and one of 19 across the state, attracted scads (or nearly 100-ish) of progressives from every progressive angle, meaning that the only real cohesive message is "this is getting really bad." The event came on the heels of the launch of the legislative session and Gov. Scott's tragic State of the State speech today, and, according to its press release, was intended to cast the spotlight on the "dirty thirty" in Florida's legislature (see above). You know, the boot lickers responsible for this unrefined mess we find ourselves in today.

"Rick Scott and extreme partisan Republicans in the legislature have demonstrated that they care more about big companies and wealthy CEOs than they do about you and me," Florida Watch Action's Amy Ritter says in the press release. "Awake the State represents working Floridians and middle-class families who play by the rules but continue to face higher costs of living, lower wages and reduced benefits."

You won't like the middle class when they're angry. And angry they were, with representatives from the Orlando Firefighters Union (President Steve Clelland suggested that this would be an old-timey era of "firefighters in the street"), the Classroom Teachers Association,  UCF's College Democrats and Latin-American groups calling out Florida's leaders for everything from voter suppression to cronyism to bad foreclosure policies to commodifying education. Political problems are like assholes, in that everybody's got one in Florida. That's because the legislature, apparently, is full of assholes.

Anyway, the cognitive dissonance was a little overwhelming – the Occupy Orlando folks were there with the bluehairs, so there's that; also, famous-teevee-attorney-turned-state-attorney-candidate Jeff Ashton fit right in with the circus, as he would – but once the rally moved out to Colonial Drive, the bread-and-circuses solidarity took a more affirming shape. (HONK IF YOU HATE YOUR LIFE! OK! HRNK!) That is until a homeless guy got into a fight with the protesters because they were stealing his corner. IRONY!

We'll leave the speculation about whether there were moles there to take pictures of activists for future cataloging (it's been done before) as well as the talk of an occupier chalking up the courthouse in protest of a frivolous arrest, because, for the most part, tonight's rally showed above all else that people are tired of the bullshit but not too tired to scream about it. Not when they're mad as hell and they can't take it anymore.

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