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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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Sometimes too close. Amid rumors of Dyer’s ambitions to jump ship and run for the gubernatorial hills in 2014, several candidates popped out of the woodwork to run against him in the upcoming April standalone election. Commissioner Phil Diamond was first, nervously blinking and shufflinghis way into pseudo-relevance by way of a voting record that challenged the mayor’s big, incentivized development eyes. Nice lady Linda Grund popped up but has been seldom heard from since. And former activist-turned-toothy-politico Mike Cantone made a little noise toward the end of the year, but that’s only because he tried to take credit for the mayor’s passage of a Domestic Partnership Registry, thus pissing off all the gays who actually did make it happen. Sour grapes! Also, we have a Domestic Partnership Registry! (G)yay!

Some of the mayor’s other projects didn’t fare quite as well this year, though you wouldn’t hear that over the spin coming out of his office. The new Amway Center, opened just last year, was faced with an NBA lockout that resulted in the Orlando Magic hemorrhaging 20 full-time staffers. The lousy Creative Village (of idiots) remains an electric dream as the city works to tear down the old Amway Arena to make room for the new Portlando™. And the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts got off to another bumpy start this year when Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs called foul on the finances, forcing a radical re-think (and more questionable funding) before it could break ground in June. For the record, no local artists will be harmed by this development, because no local artists are included in it anymore.

Wait, what did we miss? Oh, it wouldn’t be a year in review if we didn’t mention the performance art that took place around the Casey Anthony trial over the summer. There, we mentioned it. Happy New Year! We need a nap.

OK, done. Now on to a new year of divisive issues rooted in abject lunacy! Those who prefer their church and their state in separate lunchboxes will be alarmed to know that, with all due prejudice, Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi has gone out of her way to make sure that your church chocolate and state peanut butter get the Reese’s treatment. After Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis denied the Republican legislature a place on next year’s ballot for their “Religious Freedom” constitutional amendment on Dec. 13 – it was misleading, said the judge, because of its wording in regard to the U.S. Constitution – Bondi took a week to rewrite the language of the amendment to the judge’s specifications. She was allowed to do that because of a new law – signed this spring by Gov. Scott and written by a legislature that hates judicial authority – that permits a sort of do-over in these kinds of cases. Awesome.

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