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COLUMN

Happytown

It may not have been the year of the rat, but 2011 sure was full of rodents. Also, expect more of the same - plus an added twist of Jesus - in 2012. Happy New Year?

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Meanwhile, the media that used to love U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio – the American Psycho messiah – finally sharpened its talons when it appeared that the golden boy might be getting too vice presidential for his britches. Over the summer, Rubio caught heat for his campaign babble about his parents being “exiles” from Castro’s communist Cuba (they actually left before Castro came to power, but nobody was checking last year). He later found himself in a Puerto Rican versus Cuban flameout over blocking (then pretending not to block) the appointment of Mari Carmen Aponte, a Puerto Rican, as ambassador to El Salvador. In both cases, he came away looking like a stammering fool.

This spring, the Florida legislature, stacked to the ceiling with stammering Republicans, continued its wingnut assault on all things reasonable, including (but not limited to) voting rights, abortion, guns and business regulation. We are now, officially, a one-stop shop for trash!Also, House Speaker Dean Cannon spent a chunk of taxpayer money to lob a suit against the taxpayer’s fair districts vote last year, while Senate President Mike Haridopolos recoiled from a U.S. Senate campaign under the duress of several controversies (not the least of which is his involvement in the Republican Party of Florida scandal). In the end, our beloved CannonHair™ royal love affair came to a screeching halt at the end of the legislative session, with Haridopolos (and his hair) crying like a girl and Cannon sneering like an abusive boyfriend after a “sine die!” dustup. Like sands through the hourglass, so is Florida Government.

Perhaps sensing the thin plotline of our shared soap opera, activists lurched forwardas the real story of the year. There were the Awake the State rallies, the pink “Uterus” buttons, the Pink Slip Rick protests and other blips of generalized rancor pouring out from a previously dormant left. But the biggest two movements proved to be anarchically apolitical in their message. Over the summer, the Orlando Police Department began enforcing the homeless feeding ordinance against Food Not Bombs with the iron fist of numerous arrests (though the group was eventually allowed to continue its vegan buffet at City Hall). Later in the year, the momentum shifted to Senator Beth Johnson Park, where laptopped idealists with peculiar hand gestures set up camp and held “general assemblies” to attempt to divine a coherent message. After some police intervention, they’re now at City Hall, too. Apparently, Mayor Buddy Dyer likes to keep his enemies close.

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