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COLUMN

Happytown

The city starves its empathy (again), DPAC trips over its pretense (again) and your legislature does not want you to vote. No alarms, no surprises ... please.

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The group now has several options. It can comply with the ordinance, which means it'd have to strategically spread its feedings among the 42 parks within the two-mile-wide bubble around City Hall, applying for a permit each time. But even in the event that they are approved on every try, it would still not suffice in covering an estimated 104 feedings per year, so we foresee another legal battle over whether individual members of Food Not Bombs can apply for separate permits. The group may also petition sympathetic downtown churches to allow feedings on the premises, according to Dowd, and then there's always the "long shot" of petitioning to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Food Not Bombs member and senior anarchist Ben Markeson, reached the following day, was unusually measured in his reply: "We are going to continue to do food sharings in downtown public parks."

Evidently the Eleventh Circuit Court's decision was also a shot heard 'round the state, as the St. Petersburg Times reported on April 15 that the ruling "may give St. Petersburg officials the legal cover they've wanted to pass a similar rule." The Christian Science Monitor picked up the story as well, so bravo, Orlando! Fame!

Speaking of fractious boutsof indecision involving the City (not-so) Beautiful - and speaking of things that we probably talk too much about - the last two weeks have produced some ridiculous developments in the performing arts center saga. When we last checked in with the lunching ladies of conspicuous aesthetic consumption(see Happytown, March 24), a newly minted fourth-party consortium of people who make things happen, the Orlando Community Construction Corporation, was making serious faces at just how important it was to move forward with breaking ground … quickly. With construction bids set to expire on May 9, the project could go up in flames and down with $110 million! Zoinks!

Following a DPAC board meeting on April 8, a fairly nasty game of incestuous telephone(via email, naturally) erupted between the city, county, DPAC and the OCCC. Tempers flared, strings tangled and cups were crunched as representatives from the county circulated what they considered the big takeaway from the board meeting: DPAC had managed to shave $14 million from the $30 million budget gap that it came a'begging the county for back in January; it no longer needed additional assistance from the county; tourist development tax dollars (when available) should probably just go toward paying back the city's $31 million bridge loanto DPAC; the second (or local) phase of the project meant to house the ballet and the symphony orchestra will be put on hold indefinitely; and (AND!) the county's scrutiny had already cost the project $20 million in philanthropic donations with $50 million more certain to follow should May 9 come and go (which, math fans, is nearly all of the money that has been pledged for the project). In other words, fuck the county.

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