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COLUMN

Happytown

The week we weathered Gov. Rick Scott's terrible foray into teaching Immokalee kids about owl pellets and farming ... before getting lost in the gay crossfire of a mayoral bitchfest over a benefits ordinance. Floridian pride overload!

Photo: , License: N/A

Photo: Dave Plotkins, License: N/A

Dave Plotkins


Jordan Buckley, a longtime volunteer with Interfaith Action, which works closely with the CIW, told us on Nov. 11 that those new worker protections are set to go into effect with the beginning of this growing season, which generally runs from late November until May. Now, dear farmworker, you can throw pennies at Rick Scott along with rotten tomatoes. You’re rich!

Speaking of rich, when we last broached the big municipal gay divide all of two weeks ago – you know, the part where the city produced its expected boilerplate proposing a domestic partner registry to the county, effectively pushing the county to do the same by Nov. 11, because that would be cheaper – the only real controversy was that the county, being a practical lady, was going to have to mull it over. Now, because we’ve all effectively washed the glitter and three-day hangovers out of our Come Out With Pride (Take Two!) parade bliss, some new, gayer realities have set in. And, uh-oh, they involve the not-so-hotly-contested Orlando mayoral race!

On the evening of Nov. 10, aspirational campaign outlier Mike Cantone took to the steps of City Hall – with about a dozen supporters in tow – to toothily announce his petition for something more comprehensive than the city’s measly registry ambitions, which, if we’re to be honest, basically amounts to gay couples paying for the right to deal with their dying partners. Still, progress?

Anyway, Cantone’s press-conferenced-for-one (us!) proposal effectively piggybacks on the registry idea, requiring that any company that signs contracts to do business with the city in excess of $100,000 would have to offer gay couples – ostensibly those signed up for the city’s non-existent registry – the same benefits that they offer hetero couples: sick leave, bereavement leave, family medical leave and health insurance. God, rights are depressing.

In a bizarre act of fairy fate, a strikingly similar ordinance passed in Broward County on Nov. 8, though Cantone says that he was ready to roll his proposal out last month at the canceled parade, that is, until all of gay pride was washed away. But (alleged) foresight isn’t all that Cantone’s bringing to the issue. He’s also packing a little snide defiance. At the Thursday night speech, Cantone spoke of a city that’s “no longer talking about fusing our values and politicstogether,” a mean old city that’s fond of saying “now is not the right time,” a soon-to-be-orphaned city with a mayor wearing a statewide-office glint in his eye. (Dyer for governor? Um.)

“We’re expected to wait, especially in an election season,” Cantone said. Cue: arched brow.

Instead, Cantone and his Mike-alikes are pressuring the city commissioners and mayor to push his benefits ordinance before the April 3 city election, thus removing (read: escalating) the politics from the whole ordeal. Cantone pointed to the video that Mayor Buddy Dyer mailed in for the annual Equality Florida gala on Nov. 5, basically calling foul on hizzoner’s cautious embrace of gay loving. He said that the mayor’s “punt” of the registry ordinance off to Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs was “a clear sign that Orlando is not yet a world-class city.” Them, as they say, are fighting words.

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