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COLUMN

Happytown

Tampa restricts protesters for Republican National Convention to clean zones, but everyone's allowed to bring their guns (whew!). Meanwhile Florida figures out that though it can't privatize prisons, it can privatize prison health care, and former Sentinel scribe Mike Thomas lands a sweet gig with everybody's favorite schoolmarm.

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“Good news for gun lovers this August!” our girlfriend Rachel Maddow said on her MSNBC show Wednesday night. “It appears that you and your handgun may find a way to have a grand old party together in Tampa!” We love a party.

As a result of all of the attention this Buck(horn)-shot has garnered, the Tampa City Council delayed its first vote on the ordinance by two weeks in an effort to address some of the concerns. “We can change the name,” city attorney Jim Shimberg Jr. told the City Council, allowing that they've used old Mr. Clean for other massive events like the Super Bowl. “We're working absolutely in good faith. We're not trying to take away anyone's rights.”

Speaking of ridiculous pieces of legislationand the fallout they inspire, we've spent a good chunk of the past year regaling you with the idiocy of the effort to privatize the state's prison system: Republicans tried to sneak it through as a budget item last year, were kicked in the teeth by Tallahassee circuit judge Jackie Fulfordin September, then were unable to pass a stand-alone bill in this year's legislative session leading Senate President Mike Haridopolos to disappear in a poof of hairspray. Well, according to the Florida Current, all the bad news hasn't prevented the Florida Department of Corrections from taking that dead bill's spleen out and acting like the department has the right to go ahead and outsource the health care of prisoners. Seeing as Fulford didn't specify the health-care component of the original budget line item, the department has gone ahead with the bidding process for medical agencies to carry prisoner health to its absolute bottom line. Last week, the department gave early approval to two bedpan companies – Corizonand Wexford Health Sources – a move expected to produce an 11 percent savings over this year's projected prison clinic costs. Lawyers for the companies, naturally, are arguing that this is separate from total privatization, so it's just fine. Also, just in case you were worried, those savings may take a while to materialize. The department hasn't quite factored in the costs of the actual transition, including leave-time payouts to poor Nurse Ratcheds losing their jobs. Don't get sick in jail.

In lighter media newsthat cuts a little closer to home, the Orlando Sentinel issued a post-April Fools blip of info on April 3 that our favorite former Sentinel columnist, Mike “Cranky Pants” Thomas (who somehow managed the one-two punch of landing a flack job at the Orange County Public Schools and a column at Orlando Home & Leisure last October) would be ascending to the role of “top policy advisor” for Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs. What's that? He'll be making a salary of $87,500, you say? Oh.

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