"I guess Mr. Harris must have taken the week off," were the prophetic (and chipper!) words of Mayor Buddy Dyer at the end of the Nov. 2 Orlando city council meeting upon noticing the absence of hulking, soft-spoken rabble-rouser — and District 5 anti-Daisy Lynum city commission hopeful — Ezell "E-Z" Harris. Harris, you see, had made a public practice out of "general appearances" availability for the Monday afternoon tedium trysts, typically bathing in the smirks and rolled eyes of the commission as it awaited the green light for a municipal happy hour.
Well, as it turns out, Ol' E-Z may have been happy-houring in a wholly different way on his own. He was busted Nov. 12 for peddling happy pills and held in jail on $100,400 bond.
This makes us sad on several fronts, to be honest. First of all, Harris had cottoned to us a bit at recent meetings, even walking us out of City Hall to discuss his bright plans for transparency and justice in District 5. Perhaps selfishly, we had bright hopes for E-Z's political campaign against Lynum; already we had driven by his strange vanity shack on Parramore Drive several times (instead of shingles, there are E-Z political signs!) and were in the first stages of working up a big profile on him in this very paper. There were fancy cars parked at his headquarters at all hours of the night! That is our kind of politician!
Alas, Harris' ambition must have gotten the better of him. The Unbeatable Lynum commented to the Sentinel that she was aware of a drug investigation on her political foil for some time (cough), and it doesn't take a detective (or a sheriff married to a police chief) to figure out that Harris' attacks on chief Val Demings following her unfortunate gun-loss incident would probably come back to haunt him, even if he went to the trouble of apologizing back in August and having "I proudly support OPD Chief Val Demings" bumper stickers printed. If you play with fire, you're going to get burned, even if you're on pain pills. Trust us.
Hey, wheezy! That feeling of constant suffocation accompanying your wide-eyed panic attacks isn't just your mind paying you back for ending up in the national colostomy bag known as Florida. According to a new report from Environment Florida released on Nov. 12, not-at-all-suggestively titled "Too Much Pollution," Florida is way up at No. 5 among the nation's states for pollution caused by global warming; in fact, we've increased our end-of-days toxicity by a handsome 36 percent since 1990. Sure, we're all going to die, but Floridians are going to die sooner!
The report is meant to bolster the efforts of the U.S. Senate — and the president, who will be in Copenhagen at a climate change summit on Dec. 6, presumably not chewing Copenhagen — to finalize efforts to reverse consumption trends. The Electric Sunshine State has been measurably heavy on carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels like dirty coal (they make up 48.5 percent of all of our stink), while some Yankee states — Connecticut, Delaware, New York and the People's Republic of Massachusetts — are making strides at reducing death gases. It's not all bad news, though. The report recommends some simple changes that will bring jobs, jobs, jobs, and has the support of our boyfriend, State Rep. Scott Randolph, D-Orlando.
"We can boost economic recovery by creating high-paying green jobs," Randolph says in a press release. "We should build tax structures that encourage job creation in fields like solar power and weatherization programs. Small businesses that retrofit older apartments, low-income housing and commercial buildings put people to work while lowering carbon emissions and energy bills at the same time."
That, of course, has been said before, but it's been all but drowned out by the gas- guzzling engines of big Florida development. Still, Environment Florida is encouraging U.S. senators George "Who?" LeMieux and Bill "Do Nothing" Nelson to grow a pair and stand up for the state on the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act. Unlikely!
This week in the gay: once more, with feeling!
Seems like every year, as the spring legislative session approaches, our fearless heroes of homosexual heart-bleeding muster up just enough courage to make it look like this year it's going to happen: The iron gates of governmental bureaucracy will swing open, the seas of Floridian Jesus (orange?) juice will magically part and common sense will prevail in a manner that reflects actual civil rights. This year, gay activists are putting their faith behind two bills, and one of them is still a big mystery. A BIG MYSTERY! Yay!
The first is the Competitive Workforce Bill, which is sort of new, but basically rehashes an attempt from last year to add sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes under the state's already-standing civil rights laws. Last year, economic concerns dimmed the bill's merits and it never made it to committee. Not this year! (Maybe.)
The second super-secret plot to rid the world of hate is said to be still in its formative stages, but promises to be way bigger, largely because it's also utilizing the strength of the disability community to get its message across, and nobody says no to a wheelchair. What could it possibly be? Raindrops? Roses? Whiskers? Kittens? We should know more in a few weeks. Sigh.
And now it's time for another edition of What's Up With Alan?™, our attempt to keep you up to date on the comings and goings of Orlando's favorite congressman, Alan Grayson!
This week's installment finds Alan getting all scientific on your ass by creating something called the Science and High-Tech Advisory Board, which met for the first time last week at the Orlando Science Center. Basically, he's just geeking out with the white-coat set, probably hitting them up for campaign cash by scaring them with the prospect of a Republican in his seat if they don't get generous. Science and Republicans do not mix.
In a related development, Grayson challenger Eric Eisnaugle, a first-term Republican state representative from Orlando, has dropped out of the race. We'll just go ahead and speculate that it's because he was suddenly hit by a death ray or something equally "high-tech," hint hint.
Thanks for blinding us all with science, Alan.firstname.lastname@example.org