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COLUMN

Happytown

The city racks up more philanthropic arrests, the mayor tends to the million-dollar fountain and the police chief shuffles away. There must be something in the water!

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Unremarkably not there forWednesday's digestive shakedown was newly emaciated Mayor Buddy Dyer. He and Commissioner Patty Sheehan – former progressive, current liker of nice things – embody the warm glow of the throbbing soul of the fuck-you feeding ordinance. There would be no word of it the following day – the mayor made it clear on the television machines that he thought them damn hippies were "food terrorists" anyway, so there's no capping that kind of cautious hyperbole. Instead, Dyer and Sheehan, like Skipper and Gilligan before them, decided the kind of civic rancor they had wrought was in need of only one thing: a motherfucking boat!

The occasion was a hilariously timed photo-op for the troubled municipal duo (they're both up for re-election next year, voters with consciences) as they put the finishing touches on their $1.6 million renovation of the goddamned Lake Eola Fountain. We arrived thinking it would be just a stand-there-and-frown situation, but (following some odd nonsense the mayor told us in confidence about "being confused for a bear" after so many gay events lately) he informed us that we, the media, would be riding a rickety little shanty boat out to the lightning bull's-eye water feature with him. Oh no.

You know that feeling when you're stuck in an in elevator with somebody you hate and you really have to pee, but you might just pass out instead? It was like that. Once we traversed the soupy muck of the lake that's too good for needy people to eat next to, journalists with giant cameras, and those of us who do journalism on our iPhones alike, were treated to some good old-fashioned political pantomime. The mayor with a drill! Sheehan with a wrench!Us with a gun in our mouth!

"We're building this for 100 years, not for 50 years!" proclaimed the mayor, adding that because the city went for its cheapest refurbishment option, the fountain would be "the same, but better."Uh.

"The last time I was here you could still smell the smoke from the lightning strike," declared Sheehan, who, when faced with the elaborate hinky-dinks and whatchamacallits that will inevitably make the whole thing light up like a pyrotechnic middle finger to the poor on July 4, added, "This beats the on/off switch!"

Also, secondary-metal aficionados with a penchant for pawning scrap should not be informed that the fountain is literally bejeweled with lustrous, expensive copper. Once upon a time, somebody stole some piping and July 4 was ruined, Sheehan pointed out. Poor dears.

Nobody at any time mentioned that $1.6 million could roughly provide one million meals for the homeless or more than two million pounds of potatoes. And, for the record, just about everybody we saw at Lake Eola Park on Thursday afternoon was a homeless person (one reading Happytown!), so at least the mayor and commissioner had a captive audience.

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