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Happytown

The traveling redistricting circus reminds us what wasting time feels like, Phil Diamond throws Jesus chicken at us and WFTV Channel 9 concocts a class war via homeless paranoia.

Photo: Jeff Gore, License: N/A

Jeff Gore


Yet there’s at least one media outlet that seems unable to tear itself from the fiasco, reality be damned. On July 28, WFTV Channel 9 reported that “in the last month … there have been at least 10 break-ins in the Thornton Park neighborhood.” That may indeed be true, but what caught our eye was that a full 22 days after the last food sharing at Lake Eola Park, the report was also built on this shaky bridge: “Residents said they believe the homeless meals at Lake Eola are to blame.”

Really? “Nervous” resident Maureen Cavanaugh Berry reported witnessing a break-in on July 26, but the Channel 9 story conveniently omitted that she didn’t believe that the homeless or the food sharings were to blame. “I know that Channel 9 wanted to slant its story to make it sound like it’s a homeless problem,” Berry told Happytown™. “[But] what I saw was a much more sophisticated level of theft. There was a car that came with him. When I think of homeless people, they’re pushing carts.

The other person quoted in the story, real-estate agent Pat Skiffington, found a squatter inside one of his properties early last month. He blames the food sharings – “[The homeless are] still congregating at Lake Eola, whether they’re feeding there or not,” he says – but also reports that the homeless only started appearing “en masse” and making trouble in Thornton Park around September of last year. Why so late, if the Orlando Food Not Bombs had been feeding the homeless downtown since 2006? Skiffington didn’t have an answer, but we have a suggestion: Florida’s employment rate was 11.7 percent that month – the highest since 1975. It was also the first month in which banks foreclosed on more than 100,000 properties nationwide. If we’re going to make sweeping theories dealing with cause and effect, let’s at least try to make some sense. Nah, let’s just start a class war instead.

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