Patty Sheehan and the Hurricane Opportunist of the Week

Hurricane Opportunist of the Week: This week the prize goes to Affordable Residential Communities, a Denver-based owner and operator of mobile home parks. Out of the kindness of their hearts, ARC is offering trailers in its parks "at cost" to families affected by Hurricane Charley. "Our goal is to help people find a place to live and stabilize their lives," said ARC exec Scott Jackson in a press release faxed to Happytown™ HQ. "So often, when a catastrophe like this occurs, individuals and companies are left wondering how they can help." Here's a suggestion, Scott: How about offering to help families move into homes that don't become deathtraps in a strong breeze?

Or maybe the Hurricane Opportunist of the Week award should go to the person or persons unknown who ripped off a bust of the Virgin Mary, valued at $25,000, Aug. 13 in the teeth of the hurricane. Dawn Fleming, daughter of the owners of Inspirational Living Fine Art Gallery in Millenia Plaza, reports that the store's alarm went off at about 9:30 p.m., but no one could get there due to Charley's wrath. When employees finally did slog their way to store Saturday morning, they found a window smashed and two statues missing: a Vatican-authorized, 75-pound bronze recreation of Michelangelo's Madonna Della Pieta, and another sculpture by local artist James Kitchens.

"We think they knew what they wanted and went and got it," says Fleming, who notes that the Madonna had been in stock since Inspirational Living opened two years ago. Or maybe the thieves were just stupid – they didn't touch a $17,000 painting hanging right next to the sculpture, notes Fleming.

Anyone with information on the case, or a confession to make, is urged to contact the Orlando Police Department.

It's the end of the world as we know it. Or so we might have believed, judging from the gargantuan headlines the Orlando Sentinel ran in the wake of Hurricane Charley. We're talking apocalypse font here, people, the kind of huge, bold, all-caps headlines that take up half the front page and scream that something's seriously wrong with the world. In journalism school – where Happytown™ was a notorious apple-polisher, by the way – it was called the "Jesus Returns" font.

Now before you get all sassy, let's be clear that, yes, a hurricane warrants the use of the Jesus Returns font. Certainly this one did, for the day after the storm, and perhaps the day after that, maybe one more after that.

But isn't running headlines in JRF for seven consecutive days a teeny weeny bit excessive? Doubly so when you've got nothing better to say than "TACKLING THE TRASH"?

Egads! Maybe the sky is falling.

Sure, we're all growing tired of long-faced stories about John Kerry's purple-hearted people meter, but just the same, the fallout from John O'Neill's wildly successful/ controversial swift boat attack tome Unfit for Command has even us jumping for the water with our boots on. Bob Dole's Viagra viciousness aside ("Hell, those weren't wounds! I'll show you wounds!"), the backlash to this whole affair of discredited "eyewitnesses" has created a whole new low in the spectator sport known as politics.

Bush's soft, knowing dismissal of 527 advertising makes us feel precisely nothing, as do the ads it applies to. But the fact that you can't even buy the fake book – a small publisher, Regnery Publishing (aka the White House) failed to realize the demand, and only published like three of 'em – only makes this little button hotter. Local mega-outlets Barnes & Noble and Borders have been feeling the brunt of the attack, fielding accusations of liberal bias. Oh, her again.

Anyway, by the time the whole thing goes down as a big Republican lie (like, next week), expect supply to overcome demand and see the thing swiftly (clever, no?) relegated to the bargain bin. Frankly, we think the swift boat vets in question are in need of a swift kick in the ass.

For no reason in particular, other than the fact that we like the name and no one else is going to give them a drop of ink, we'd like to note the formation of the Godless Americans Political Action Committee, aka GAMPAC. These folks, headquartered in Ormond Beach, will have absolutely zero impact on the election, have not formed a 527 and probably don't even know what a swift boat is, but you've got to applaud their moxie. If you are feeling particularly godless these days, join 'em by writing to the Humanists of Northeast Florida, P.O. Box 1143, Ormond Beach, FL, 32175.

After insisting he was innocent of a rape for 22 years, Wilton Dedge was released from the Brevard county detention center Aug. 12 at 1 a.m. His parents Mary and Gary Dedge welcomed him with hugs.

Now that he's free, Dedge's attorneys are calling for a full investigation. Cheney Mason and Nina Morrison say prosecutors Chris White and Wayne Holmes, and former prosecutor Dean Moxley (who is now a Brevard county judge), should step down. "We are going to prove there was a conspiracy that put Dedge there. They used lies and gypsy evidence to convict him," says Mason.

Mason said he plans to file a federal lawsuit against the state attorney's office for violating Dedge's civil rights. State attorney Norm Wolfinger would not comment on a possible lawsuit. He said an investigation would have to be ordered by the governor.

Jacob DiPietre, spokesperson for Gov. Jeb Bush, said no one has contacted the governor regarding an investigation and that any request for one would be reviewed.

Dedge, 42, says he holds no animosity toward the victim. "A horrible thing happened to her. I'm sorry for that."


Decoding Kathleen Parker

Orlando Sentinel columnist Kathleen Parker is a very important writer. Not since Will Rogers has there been a pundit whose words reflected the feelings of so many Americans. From soccer moms to NASCAR dads, Parker has her finger on the pulse of this great land.

Unfortunately, her columns can be somewhat inscrutable. So as a public service, Happytown™ has hired a team of experts to occasionally read and decipher her offerings. Though they refused to do it on a weekly basis, we feel Parker is worth analyzing whenever our brain trust is willing.

Aug. 18: "McGreevey's gay grievance"

Summary: Just because New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey is gay doesn't mean he isn't also a very, very bad man.

Aug. 22: "Black like Obama"

Summary: Our experts were mystified. They were, however, impressed with the use of the words "euphonious," "epiphanic" and "Demosthenes."

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