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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


The action follows a long Republican year of immigration windbagging, specifically from Gov.-elect Rick Scott who has been relatively quiet on the issue since the election. (“If [arrestees] are in the state illegally they should be deported,” a Scott spokesman told the Miami Herald. Nice.) Bennett, however, insists that his proposal is not intended to look as horrific as it does.

“I don’t think anyone is looking for a bill that has a police officer stopping everyone on the street who has a tan or dark hair,” he told the Herald.

A spokesman for Attorney General-elect Pam “Barbie” Bondi added that although Bondi has yet to see the bill, “she intends to work with the legislature to ensure that any immigration bill protects the public, 
upholds the rule of law and guards against racial profiling.”

In other words, welcome to the Wild West.

Or north! As we reported in late October, the Winter Park City Commission’s decision to impose fees to use the off-leash section of Fleet Peeples dog park touched a public nerve, to say the least.

The omnipresent hostility reached another boiling point on Nov. 6, when the Friends of Fleet Peeples Park – the nonprofit which created the park’s off-leash area – held a meeting at the park in an effort to re-group, re-
strategize and, in the words of one member, “calm down.” But that would turn out to be a quixotic fantasy, because also in attendance was parks board member Bonnie Jackson, who some FFPP members consider the group’s most mortal enemy.

The visit sparked nearly two hours of shouting, which climaxed in what was, depending on your source, either a “light touch” or a “stiff-arm” to the wrist that resulted in Jackson filing batttery charges against Sandy Womble, FFPP’s outspoken secretary. Womble says that Jackson “incited controversy” and “terrorized people,” while according to Jackson, it was the militant throng of dog owners that started the mess by “accosting” her for daring to show up at the park. “It was a mob,” Jackson says. “These people began pointing me out as if I were a wanted criminal.”

Womble learned on Nov. 29 that police would not pursue the charges against her. As for the dog park itself, Winter Park began selling passes on Dec. 1, but “sales have been really, really slow,” according to city spokeswoman Clarissa Howard. The city decided recently to spend $10,000 to install a machine similar to those used in parking garages which would distribute daily passes for those who visit the park less frequently. This would, however, allow unvaccinated dogs to roam the park, an unsavory scenario used by some Winter Park officials to justify the fees in the first place.

Fee enforcement is set to take effect on Jan. 1. 
On the mornings of Saturday, Dec. 11 and Sunday, Dec. 12, Parks Department staff will be at Fleet Peeples Park to sell the yearly passes and to answer questions about the new arrangement. The Friends are going to stomach the fees for now, but Womble says that come election time in March, she’ll be “tirelessly” campaigning for whichever city commissioner candidate supports a feeless park. “There’ll be no shortage of volunteers,” she says.

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