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COLUMN

Happytown

The week where the Florida victory of Newtt Romrich almost overshadowed a hearing about how screwed up Republicans have made the voting process, college students revolted against revolting university policies and Lynx got caught in aesthetic overstep. We are going nowhere, fast!

Photo: Christopher Halloran, License: N/A

Christopher Halloran


Quick! A little back story for those still following. Ertel, a nice guy by most estimates, was named as a potential replacement for Florida Secretary of State Kurt Browning – the man responsible for instituting the new voting laws – way back in January. Though he didn’t get the job, he still seems to be tiptoeing on the party line: You should earn your right to vote; shut up, liberals!

“The fact of the matter is that this legislation was passed on a pack of lies,” Howard Simon, the executive director of the ACLU of Florida, told us. Simon addressed two lawsuits challenging the law: the first filed by the ACLU of Florida and the Brennan Center for Justice, a non-partisan public policy and law institution, that is scheduled for hearings in March; the other, also involving the ACLU, made headlines last week when four Republican legislators opposed giving depositions in the case based on “legislative immunity and privilege,” reports the Orlando Sentinel. If that case drags into November, there will be measurable consequences. After all, Republicans are already bragging about their ramped up voter registration in Florida, while more reasonable – meaning legitimate – groups have been tamping down their efforts for fear of recourse.

Whether the meeting was a call to arms or a bit of preaching to the choir remains to be seen, but, at least to Simon, it’s part of bigger picture involving the more than a dozen states either passing or debating similar voting restrictions.

“Wake up, voters in other states,” he says. “This is coming to a theater near you.”

Meanwhile, in our state’s illustrious capital village – er, city – of Tallahassee, students from across Florida gathered outside the phallic pleasure centerthat serves as our legislative base camp to protest dickish budget cuts to the higher education budget. Citing skyrocketing tuition rates that have increased 60 percent in the past four years and a proposal to remove students’ representation on the Florida Board of Governors, the state group that manages the 11 public universities in Florida, the Florida Student Association – a group that officially represents students at every state university except for Florida State (“Just say Noles?”) – organized an event called “Rally in Tally” to show lawmakers just how much students cared about getting access to good education at low costs, something championed at the event by Democratic and Republican lawmakers alike. Current proposals before the legislature would increase college tuition another 15 percent next academic year, and while the chancellor of the State University System and former president of Florida Atlantic University, Frank Brogan, said that Florida’s tuition rates are the fifth-lowest in the country, such a distinction may not last much longer – especially if crowds of more than 200 students from across the state keep banging down the doors of the Capitol.

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