Do you know what July 12 is? In the city of Orlando, it’s “The Grace Family Reunion Day.” Who are the Graces, and why does the city care about their family reunion, you might wonder? Good question. We can’t answer it, but we do know their “legacy is truly honorable and worthy of recognition.” Or at least we know that Orlando commissioner Sam Ings thinks so. As it turns out, Ings is fond of issuing proclamations. He’s done so dozens of times in the last six months alone, rarely with city council approval. Some of his finest work:

July 12 is also a day of mourning for Gerald Cassanova, “who is now absent from his body, but who is present with the Lord.” He taught at Lake Brantley High School and made a praise record.

Jan. 24 was “Fire Baptized Holiness Church of God of the Americas Day.” In another proclamation, Ings declared the same day “The Amazing Florida District of the Fire Baptized Holiness Church of God of the Americas Day.” Confusing.

Feb. 23 was “Ruling Elder, Reverend Dr. Henry Brown, Jr. Day” because of Brown’s (his doctorate is honorary, FWIW) “pasturing” of the above-mentioned Fire Baptized Holiness Church of God.

March 8 was “Connie Holt Day,” because Ings deemed Holt “a virtuous woman.”

Ings also declared May 8 to be “Mother’s Day” … wait, didn’t someone think of that already?

Faithful readers may remember that back in 2003, the city took some heat when another freelancing commissioner, Vicki Vargo, declared the “ex-gay” ministry Exodus International to be A-OK in the city’s eyes, which kinda pissed off everyone who wasn’t a mouth-breathing homo-hater.

City spokeswoman Heather Allebaugh says the city has no restrictions on such freelancing proclamations, meaning any and all commissioners can proclaim anything they want, whenever they want. Sure, this could lead to some embarrassing situations (see Vargo, Vicki) but what good is the ability to proclaim if you don’t use it?

Asked about Ings’ proclamations, Allebaugh laughed and declined to comment, probably because she doesn’t want Ings declaring July 10 “STFU Heather Allebaugh Day.”

Do you ever wonder what you might not be reading in the Orlando Sentinel now that it’s largely given over to brightly colored charticles designed to be innocuous and easy to digest? We do. That’s why we peruse other papers – and why we canceled our subscription, frankly. You don’t have to look hard to know that if you only read the Sentinel, you won’t know much.

Example: The St. Petersburg Times published a fascinating article July 5 about just what the heck Jeb Bush is up to these days. It won’t help you lose any weight, but it will help you understand the man who will likely pop up in 2012 as the savior of the Republican Party.

Bush, it seems, has been busy giving speeches at up to $60,000 a pop and serving on the board of at least three corporations that benefited from his tenure as governor, according to the Times. He’s also been setting up nonprofits that help keep his political donor base intact. His Foundation for Florida’s Future, for example, has taken in $550,000 in 11 installments from the Villages, the Republican stronghold where oldsters go to screw and die.

Hey, Sam Zell: It’s amazing what you can find out when you pay people to look.

Here’s a stunner: Orlando is home to almost 50,000 millionaires. One of them could be the guy passed out next to you on the LYNX!

There are 48,737 millionaire households in Orlando, according to a recent report by market research firm Claritas. They claim that if we all keep saving, another 33 percent of us could be rich too within five years, even with an expected city growth rate of only 13.4 percent during that same period.

None of the Happytown™ staff managed to get into this elite group, so if you’re rolling in it, feel free to stop by and buy us a beer.

Last week in Happytown™ we told you about the county’s latest gimmick to give the appearance of going green: the opening of an ethanol station few will ever use. Well, it seems that someone is paying attention to the inflated notion that the city has gone green.

A Men’s Health magazine survey ranks Orlando No. 16 among cities going green in a “greenest drivers” study of 100 U.S. cities. The City Beautiful also managed to rank No. 29 in low-ozone days, No. 40 in gas consumed (fewest gallons of gas used) and No. 28 in transit, as judged by the number of people using public transportation. Really?

And we almost forgot to mention that Orlando slid in at No. 24 among cities with the lowest pollution, because California claimed all the high pollution rankings. So just remember as you’re driving (or riding the bus, like the survey suggests we all do on a regular basis) around the city that we are a pinnacle of clean earthly green goodness.

In our ongoing effort to keep you apprised of what the Iraq war is costing you in cold, hard cash, we bring you yet another depressing update from the folks at the National Priorities Project, a nonprofit that keeps track of how we could spend your tax dollars, were we not throwing them down a rathole in the Middle East.

On June 30 President Bush signed another supplemental spending bill, adding $162 billion to your tab for his failed war. That means that you have now spent $656.1 billion on this project.

Orange County’s share of that now equals about $2.5 billion. What else could we have bought with that kind of money? One year of health care for 865,000 people; 39,000 music and arts teachers for a year; 18,000 units of affordable housing; 764,000 one-year college scholarships; 334,000 one-year Head Start places for kids; or 56,000 public safety officers.

Of course there are other costs associated with Bush’s failed war: thousands of lives lost, America’s destroyed reputation in the world and a ruined economy; but we’re just talking dollars here.


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