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COLUMN

Happytown

The state of the city is fake, the state of the state is harrowing, state of the art cameras are watching you steal flowers and state Dems seek an altered state.

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There's no getting past it: We 
are in a state - an altered state. Just two days after Gov. Rick Scott's expressionless mug commanded state leaders not to "blink" in their pursuit of corporatized social engineering during his State of the State address, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer climbed out from behind his shame curtain with a similar "we need to talk" patriarchal motif, only this time on the local level. The mayor's annual State of the City address is typically a soundbite salad of ambitions yet to be unrealized - wasn't Magic Johnson supposed to buy Parramore a few years ago? - but this year, given the sharp fiscal edges lining the cliff of our descent, it's a wonder any of the assembled boosters meant to buoy the mayor's pancaked personage could even afford the Men's Warehouse suits they were renting for the March 10 speech. Dyer? Dire.

In lieu of grand announcements of bright economic development dreams, the mayor effectively toed the same EKG flatline he's been stumbling on since Orlando died: partnerships, partnerships, partnerships. Seriously, the rallying call to end his delivery was a mantra of distraction. How will we do anything? "Together … We Will." What movie is this?

Scattered throughout the report card he wrote for himself were some slightly tarnished gold stars: crime is down, business is up, the storm clouds are passing (it was raining outside, presumably for effect) and "No city in America is better positioned to come out of the recession faster and stronger." Right. The only discernable developments present were new promises of no transportation impact fees, a continuation of the "this looks nice, right?" Main Street program, and wait for it … you won't have to separate your recyclables anymore! Hooray?

But what the speech lacked in substance, it was meant to make up for in futuristic spontaneity. The mayor and his minions had been soliciting local input for a more relaxed Q&A segment of the event. And that's right nerds, you could even ask him questions on Facebook!

Though the mayor later claimed to the Sentinel that he had some idea about what kind of questions might befall him - meaning they were handpicked softballs from a glorious softball tree - there was no letting on about that during the actual proceedings. Instead, you got an elderly lady asking about public transportation (the mayor used this opportunity to joke about his old $600 1966 Ford Mustang with a "fastback," gross), an 18-year-old college freshman on spring break asking whether the outlook would be good for him becoming an Orlando teacher upon graduation in 2014 ("Just don't run for mayor," Buddy giggled), a Parramore minister worrying about the impact of the imaginary creative village on area residents (none, of course) and a Downtown Arts District plant wondering aloud about the performing arts center. The best, though, was when a question was read aloud from Gina Duncan - whom we can only assume is the Gina Duncan who sits on the steering committee of Human Rights Campaign Orlando. Would the mayor ever consider passing a human rights ordinance like the county did last year to make gay people happy? "You'll be happy to know, Gina, that the city passed that ordinance in 2002." Fake! The state of the city is fake.

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