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COLUMN

Happytown

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But it's not all bad news on the 
constitutional amendment front! Remember how we were wringing our hands about the threat of ditto-heads coming to steal away the reproductive rights of Florida women? (See "Planned personhood," Jan. 27). Well, Personhood Florida leader Bryan Longworth and his tea-bagger drawl of "you're not alone" surfaced again early last week on 
floridaindependent.com, darn-tootin' his fists at the conservative base that has not embraced the radical idea that a semen-smudged uterus deserves more rights than a full-grown woman. He's claiming that those who refuse to join the personhood movement are just doing so because they "have to come to grips with the fact that they participated in taking their own child's life." That's right, he's accusing Republicans of having abortions. Holy crap.

The best part of the story, however, comes in Longworth's revelation that the whole Roe v. Wade anniversary upsurge in January only garnered his group about 1,000 signatures, meaning there is absolutely no chance that personhood will make it onto Florida's ballot in 2012. This is what qualifies as good news.

Is Florida the next Wisconsin? 
The Florida Chamber of Commerce certainly thinks so: "Unfortunately, Florida is next on the union bosses' hit list," said Mark Wilson, the chamber's president, in a radio advertisement that aired on March 3. "They're bussing protestors to Central Florida, right now, to harass your courageous representatives."

The ad was aired a few hours before teachers arrived at the offices of Reps. Chris Dorworth, R-Lake Mary, Jason Brodeur, R-Sanford, and Scott Plakon, R-Longwood, to protest proposed education cuts and teacher pay reform by the Florida Legislature. Curiously, the ad neglected to mention that the protest was organized not by out-of-state union bosses, but by Seminole UniServ, the umbrella union for the four bargaining units representing all Seminole County Public Schools employees. "Absolutely no one was bussed in at all," the union's executive director, Tony Gentile, told Happytown™. "I would say 98 percent of the people, or maybe even more, were from Seminole County."

Where did the chamber get the idea that the leftist versions of the Koch Brothers were marshalling their union troops in Central Florida? "I'm not going to divulge how we receive our information," says the chamber's spokeswoman, Edie Ousley. She did divulge, however, that there is "a war room up and running," and that the chamber is "completely and totally prepared to invest in the battle should the unions decide to crescendo their activities." Hooray for new verbs!

Considering the Mar. 8 "Awake the State" protests slated for more than 20 Florida cities, Stephanie Porta, director of the liberal group Organize Now, takes a guess at what the chamber is really after: "I think they're trying to just get ahead of the curve and define what they see is about to happen," she says. "To make sure that you know that these [protestors] are evil people."

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