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COLUMN

Happytown

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Who else is advertising sales for low-cost STD testing in the area? That's right - no one. So if we defund Planned Parenthood because it provides abortions, where will all the bashful pages, whose minds were corrupted when they heard Rep. Randolph speak the word uterus on the House floor, go when they need to get their private parts checked for rashes and bumps? Maybe GOP leadership will provide the service for them.

Or perhaps the Florida Chamber of Commerce will come up with a solution.

On March 29, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer was having his big re-election campaign kickoff at the Abbey Theatre, a venue so new it hadn't even officially opened yet. It was an important day for Dyer, so at first, the protestors were kind enough not to shout. At a respectable distance from the gala, around 15 members of activist group Organize Now handed out flyers that read: "Ask Mayor Dyer if he's a ‘Buddy' of the Florida Chamber of Commerce!"

They were there because three members of Dyer's re-election host committee are members of the chamber, a pro-business lobbying group that in recent months has attacked unions and other impediments to unfettered capitalism.

Last month the organization produced a radio advertisement alleging that protests by Seminole County public school employees, held at the offices of state legislators who support education funding cuts, were part of a nefarious scheme organized by big national unions who were "bussing in" activists from out of state to "harass ... courageous representatives." (After a thorough examination of the charges, Politifact rated the chamber's allegations as "pants on fire" lies; the Orlando Sentinel's Mike Thomas called them "complete crap.")

The Chamber saw 80 of its 84 endorsed candidates elected to the state legislature this past November, and it has evidently become so drunk with power that it has gone a bit batshit, boasting to Happytown about its political "war room" and creating a color-coded system to rate the security threats posed by protestors to its fortress in Tallahassee.

Some with-us-or-against-us politicking prompted the Organize Now protest. "We support Buddy - he's a good Democrat," said Doug Head, who campaigned against Dyer's removal from office in 2005 following allegations of electoral fraud. "We just want to make sure his agenda is not that of the Florida Chamber."

The protestors were unaware of the Mayor's response emailed to Happytown earlier that day, however. "Just like this group, I do not support Governor Scott's agenda to cut benefits for public employees," Dyer wrote.  "I would encourage them to focus their energy on delivering their message directly to the Governor rather than to a Mayor who shares their point of view on these issues."

With the torrent of news about 
budget cuts and uteri coming out of Tallahassee lately, proposed changes to Florida's immigration laws have gotten relatively scant attention. At least 10 different immigration bills have been introduced in the Florida legislature this session; if passed, they would broaden police authority to question people about their immigration status and obligate employers to use the E-Verify work authorization system, among other things.

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