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Hey, UCF students: You're about to pay a lot more for your edumacation!

On Nov. 20, permatanned Gov. Charlie Crist announced that he was caving in to university presidents' demands to jack up your tuition payments by as much as 15 percent annually so they can build neat things like the $55 million UCF football stadium `see "Force-fed," Dec. 13, 2007`, and keep paying teachers and stuff.

Currently, about one-third of the state university system's $8.5 billion budget comes from the state legislature, which at this very moment is trying to figure out what things it can chainsaw to shore up the $2 billion deficit. Theoretically, tightwad lawmakers wouldn't use the tuition hike as an excuse to gut their portion of higher-education funding like they did with the lottery money a few decades ago.

That's what former Gov. Bob Graham is worried about. "It could become a narcotic to cover up the real problems by shifting more of the total cost of education to students while the state does not keep up its end of the bargain," he told the St. Petersburg Times. Graham is in fact suing the Legislature over who has the authority to set tuition rates.

From Crist's perspective, a tuition hike is an obvious move in troubled financial times. The state's tuition rate is one of the lowest in the country at just over half the national average of about $6,585 for a 30-hour, two-semester course load. That said, considering how we're in a massive recession and everybody's poor, maybe now isn't the best time to institute what amounts to a tax on higher education. But don't worry, kids, your student loans will cover it. Crushing debt is the American way.

Remember three weeks ago, when this country had some sort of election? Now that that's over, let's talk 2010.

What's that? You'd like an itty-bitty break from politics because it's boring and you're tired of it? Too bad. Something called the "Steering Committee for Greater Orlando's Team Hillary" — also known as Soil and Water Conservation Board wannabe Jessy Hamilton — sent out a press release Nov. 13 announcing that it wanted the state's chief financial officer and highest-ranking Democrat, Alex Sink, to challenge Gov. Charlie Crist.

Sink, meanwhile, is reportedly debating whether to run for governor or U.S. senator. And since we like sticking our noses in other people's business, we'd like to offer her some advice:

l Don't listen to the Hilltards. According to a recent Quinnipiac poll, Crist's approval rating is at 68 percent, which is remarkable for a governor who has done, well, nothing for two years.

l Run for Senate. In that same Q-poll, Bush-administration bootlicker Mel Martinez polls at a kinda-terrible 42 percent, which means you can totally kick his ass.

We'd just like to take a minute to thank the idiot base who, while casting their ballots Nov. 4, felt the need to balance out our great national step forward — hello, hot new president — with a constitutional backhand to the gays.

We'd written exhaustively about Amendment 2 in the months leading up to Election Day, trying to make it clear that all of the proponents' promises that they wouldn't do anything to domestic-partner benefits were wingnut lies. We warned you repeatedly: If you give a jackass an inch, he'll kick you and run for a mile.

That jackass in this case is our old pal David Caton, executive director of the Florida Family Association. Guess what he's doing? Just what we suspected he might: aiming to change the charter of Hillsborough County in 2010 to prevent the slightest possibility of same-sex benefits for county employees. That took, like, all of three minutes.

"We're going to use the momentum from the marriage amendment to speak to the fact that most people in this state don't want a recognition of that type of relationship," he told the St. Petersburg Times last week. "At this time of economic stress, our government should not be providing benefits to non-employees on the basis of their sexual relationships."

See how he did that? Gays (and unmarried-but-living-together straights) only have sexual relationships; they never talk, they never care for one another, they never support one another. At least that's what the state says.

This is especially a dick move because Hillsborough County doesn't even have partner benefits yet; the city of Tampa does and intends to keep them.

Of course, that won't happen if Caton can help it. "Domestic partnership will be the battlefield between the pro-family agenda and the gay-radical agenda," he taunted, again to the Times. This, dear readers, is the fight you voted for.

Hey, while you're all gathered around communal, pre-chewed grandma food this Thanksgiving weekend, making out with your Uncle Lou before tackling your slutty sister in a front-yard game of tag football, the Florida Department of Health wants to make sure that you don't accidentally get methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA, y'all) for the holidays.

Russell Eggert, the director of the Division of Disease Control, blasted out an e-mail op-ed last week to calm the flames of public concern over their kids getting MRSA at school. "Staphylococcal infections do not cause outbreaks in schools except in special circumstances," he wrote. Special circumstances like, say, Liberty High School, where four kids have come down with the bug, or, says Eggert, any place where kids get cut or scratched and share equipment.

Anyway, the op-ed comes with a Christmas list of naughties that will have you resisting antibiotics just in time for the manger scene. Most are obvious (don't get cut, and if you do, wash with soap, dirtbag), don't share towels or razors (unless you're gay), and "keep skin infections such as boils or infected wounds covered and treat them promptly with both local care, such as drainage of boils, and appropriate antibiotics for the entire duration, as prescribed by your health-care provider."

Christmas was made for draining boils.

If the holidays, the economy and the snowbirds have you down, just remember this: Orlando is safer than Compton. That's the word from the FBI, who released their annual list of America's most dangerous cities recently. We ranked No. 18, right behind that gangsta crib of song and story, and right in front of Little Rock, Ark. New Orleans snagged first place, and Minneapolis rounded out the top 20.

Yeah, us.

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