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COLUMN

Happytown

Sen. Bill Nelson is lost in space, Florida is lost in translation, Winter Park dogs are lost in their owners' anger and Orlando tries to lose its gas issues.

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The great be-yawn: Sen. Bill Nelson flies a full-flop

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Butt-plug: Orlando gets ready to go electric


Among the multitude of extremely boring things we don’t want to be right now – an arsenic-tolerant microbe, an overturned Big Wheel in a foreclosed front yard, an unemployment answering machine – there is one dull thing in particular that we really don’t want to be, and that’s Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida. Serving the interests of the state of Florida in his current capacity since 2000 as the human embodiment of “maybe?” Nelson’s always come off as more of a cobwebbed fixture than a fighter, somebody who waves his fists on occasion but rarely actually uses them. Sure, on Dec. 1 
he reportedly blithered at a Senate hearing about the Obama administration’s attempts to undermine his pride-and-joy NASA rocket machine – Nelson will forever be that guy who went to space, right? – but even that just sounded like old-man paranoia. Could Nelson be losing his marbles? Well, he’s probably losing something. Amid rumors that he could be facing a formidable challenge in 2012 from incoming Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos and his coif of blond doom – not to mention the fact that his new Senate dancing partner, Marco Rubio, is way hotter than old Bill – Nelson made big clumsy news last week when he stepped (or stumbled) across the proverbial aisle. At issue was the age-old Republican gripe of “earmarks are crazy!” typically employed to whip pensioner populists into a rabid frenzy. On Nov. 15, Nelson actually met with Rubio about the issue and, surprised that the young stallion would not engage him in a game of bridge, Nelson bounded out to tell reporters that he so supported earmarks because it’s those little pockets of secret money that make things like nuclear aircraft carriers happen here and not somewhere else. 
Also, jobs.

“Those are the hard realities when we talk about the appropriations we call ear-marks,” Nelson said, according to PolitiFact 
Florida. “So if you tie them to jobs in your local economy, that seems like that’s a defining way.”

But “defining” things don’t appear to be Nelson’s specialty. Just two weeks later on Nov. 30, Nelson jumped ship on the issue, siding with just six other Democrats and 32 Republicans when a moratorium on earmarks came up for vote. The moratorium failed, because these things do, but the fracas left Nelson with a distinct stench of political maneuvering (and maybe urine?) on his jacket, enough so that PolitiFact dubbed him a “full-flop” on its Flip-O-Meter.

“These are unusual (economic) times,” a Nelson flack back-peddled to the usual St. Petersburg Times. And Nelson is such a usual politician. Yawn.

Wait! Hey, wake up! That’s the police outside your car all blinking and banging, and they really need to talk to you about some documentation. Seems that in its quest to become the New Arizona, Florida has finally taken the first predictable step in institutionalized-racism-disguised-as-immigration-policy; Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton, filed a bill last week that would allow cops to ask for identifying papers from anyone they suspected might be in the country illegally. Also, if you’re totally legal but for some reason left your paperwork at home, you could be fined $100 and thrown in the pokey for 20 days. Sounds fair, right?

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