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COLUMN

Happytown

Photo: Mark Foley, License: N/A

Mark Foley


"You can't represent niche interests," Soto says. "You saw [Haridopolos] trying to run the Senate like the House. When you do that, it's going to cause an equal and opposite reaction."

Both legislators note the resurgence of moderate – or "independent-leaning" – Republicans like Sen. Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland, and Sen. Dennis Jones, R-Seminole, who split ranks with their party in order to shout some sense into a crumbling Senate. Also, Cannon wasn't prone to forcing floor votes without committee hearings just because he could with his impenetrable supermajority. In essence, then, the system seemed to be working.

Well, not totally. Senate redistricting chairman Don Gaetz, R-Niceville – who, it should be noted, is the incoming Senate president – got called out by the Florida Supreme Court for "manipulating" the redrawn Senate maps to favor incumbents (surprise), and should approach his new leadership post with plenty of egg on his face, though he's playing that down now.

"While the Senate strongly believed that its entire redistricting plan complied with federal and state law, we are encouraged that the court found three-fourths of the Senate map to be legally valid," he said in a statement on Friday. "The court approved 32 of 40 districts and took issue with eight currently served by both Democratic and Republican senators."

Whatever. The legislators will be hashing it out in a special redistricting session March 14-28, which ought to allow Republicans enough time to figure out exactly who they are again (and pull out the real map they've been hiding) – or at least give our CannonHair™ that one last chance to make out that we've all been waiting for.

When Occupy Orlando first started out in October, holding protests and camping out in Senator Beth Johnson Park, most of us here at Happytown™ HQ were with Occupy Orlando in spirit but not so much in practice. Yeah, the system is broken and corrupt, we agree it needs to change, we are tremendously disappointed in the current state of affairs. But to us, camping out and holding signs isn't going to do a whole lot to change things, just like releasing a slick film about a Ugandan guerrilla leader that appeals to people's sense of outrage and drives them to Tweet #StopKony and #Konysurrender isn't really likely to do anything to improve the lives of kids victimized by the Lord's Resistance Army. (Especially when that leader has been indicted for his crimes, but has escaped and is on the run from the International Criminal Court. But that's a whole 'nother thing we won't get into today). But Occupy was fighting the good fight, and at least they were raising awareness – just because we don't choose to sleep out in parksdoesn't mean we don't respect the right of others to do so to make a point. Few in Orlando government, though, seem to agree.

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