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Happytown

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Yet Kopczynski and his ilk aren’t going down without a fight. The PBA, a prominent law enforcement union that hates Rick Scott (natch!), filed a lawsuit on July 13 calling on the Second Judicial Circuit Court to stop the privatization of prisons in 18 South Florida counties. The suit points out that the shift to privatization was cloaked in the state’s general budget when it should have been introduced as a separate bill, given that the privatization contract amounts to a major policy change. GEO has not yet announced plans to hold a Labor Day barbeque at any judges’ homes in Leon County, but we’ll keep you updated.

It was bound to happen eventually. On July 28, homeless man Bruce Eric Shawen declared his candidacy for the city’s District 4 commission seat, currently occupied by possibly the least-enthusiastic homeless advocate at City Hall, Patty Sheehan. As you can recall, it was Sheehan who introduced the large group feeding ordinance in 2006; the law bans handing out free food in downtown parks without a permit from the city.

Shawen is regarded as a daywalker of sorts in the homeless community, a level-headed middleman between the power and the powerless who has a lot of numbers in his pay-as-you-go cell phone. “My platform, to sum it up in as sentence, would be: Elect Bruce Shawen, candidate for the common folk,” he says. “That sort of plays well for those who are not rolling around in money.”

Shawen and Sheehan are currently the only two candidates registered for the election as this issue goes to press; Shawen’s registered address is a post office box. He says his next goal is collecting signatures – he needs 641 of them to get on the ballot – and raising money. Fittingly, his campaign treasurer is none other than Orlando Food Not Bombs’ Ben Markeson, one of 27 people arrested within a five-week span for violating Sheehan’s ordinance. “We’re confident that Patty has enough political baggage that there’s people who are looking for an alternative,” Markeson says. He adds that Shawen’s homelessness is actually “a plus for the voters of that district … he knows what it’s like to be broke and unemployed.”

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