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COLUMN

Happytown

Alan Grayson called Newt Gingrich fat. We drank. A federal judge tossed out the redistricting lawsuit. We drank. The ACLU challenged piss tests for the poor. We drank. And then we, along with the firefighters, took to Facebook to post inappropriate pictures. We don't remember any of it.

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Effectively, then, we could be faced with an ongoing legal battle that could actually extend beyond next year’s congressional elections, meaning we may well be stuck with the term “redistricting” through 2014. By then you’ll be both drunk and fat.Hopefully, you’ll also be relevant.

Speaking of substances and how we enjoy them, on Sept. 6 we caught wind of yet another lawsuit involving bad government, this time with drugs! The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida filed a federal suit, as expected, to halt the implementation of Gov. Rick Scott’s get-rich-quick scheme in which he would require Temporary Cash Assistance for the Needy benefits recipients to pay to piss in a cup, and thus be lucky enough to receive their benefits – but only if they test negative for drugs. All of that, of course, backfired when the first month of urine swishing in July resulted in just 2 percent of applicants testing positive. That just didn’t josh well with the known statistics. A previous Florida pilot program testing the unemployed found a 5 percent positive rate a decade ago, and a federal study shows that 8.7 percent of the whole population of this doped-out country (over the age of 12, anyway) tends to dabble in illicit substances. It would appear that, at least currently, the unemployed can’t afford the weed.

Last Tuesday’s lawsuit is in the name of Luis Lebron, a 35-year-old University of Central Florida student and Navy veteran who refused to take the test, calling it “insulting and degrading.” Lebron qualifies for TANF because he’s supporting his 4-year-old son and his disabled mother, so it’s basically a political checkmate for the ACLU.

“Gov. Scott signed this unconstitutional requirement repeating talking points that Floridians have the right to know that tax dollars are not being used to subsidize drug addiction,” ACLU of Florida Executive Director Howard Simon pounded his chest in a press release. “The fact that the legislation singles out only those seeking temporary assistance, but not others who receive tax dollars, demonstrates that this is really just about pandering to prejudice about poor people for political gain.” Check. Hate.

Let’s talk about Facebook drama. You’ve known it for a long time now, acrimonious, gossipy Happytown reader, but in the post-post-9/11 world, online-based griping and sniping has spread to the ranks of nearly every social sphere, from sexually unsatisfied grandmothers to the Orange County Fire Department.

Say that again? Firemen banging out status updates with triceps rippling angrily beneath high-sleeved tees? Okay, okay, facts before fantasy: This latest, or perhaps first, snafu was made public on April 27, when the Local 2057 firefighters’ union filed an unfair labor practice charge with the state’s Public Employees Relations Commission (aka the PERC, the same organization that recently counted the votes for – or more accurately, against – an ill-fated Winter Park public employee unionization push in July). The union charged that the Orange County Fire Department’s new social media policy – attached in full to the online version of this story – was “overly broad” and had a chilling effect on firemen’s protected speech. Put into effect in January, the policy orders that employees “shall not criticize or ridicule or debase the reputation of the department” nor do anything over Facebook, Twitter, etc., that “damages or impairs the reputation and/or efficiency of the department or its employees.”

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