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;So, how screwed up was Edgewood's police force under former chief of police Clarence Bass? Very.

;;For years some Edgewood City Council members and activists in this small community claimed Bass was an ineffective bully whose police force sucked up most of the city's budget with little to show for it (see "The Teflon chief," Jan. 13, 2005). Bass' supporters, meanwhile, portrayed the whole imbroglio as an unprofessional — and unnecessary — vendetta against a man who was only doing his best. Bass told us that these "distractions" were the reason he hadn't accomplished his main goal: getting the department accredited by the state.


;In December 2005, he told the City Council the accreditation process was nearing completion, according to meeting minutes. Not quite.


;"I don't know why he was saying that," says John Tegg, Edgewood's new police chief. Tegg, a candidate for Orange County Sheriff in 2004 who says he's running again in 2008, took over in June, a few weeks after Bass negotiated a retirement agreement with Edgewood mayor (and Bass critic) Mike Teague. He immediately began analyzing how far along the department was with accreditation. According to a memo Tegg sent to Teague July 25, "The accreditation process has been ongoing for almost four years. Approximately $35,000 of agency funds have been expended. An independent audit of the status of the accreditation process revealed that as of June 1, 2006, the department had completed only [1 percent] of the process."

;;That's 1 percent, after four years and lots of hand-wringing. Tegg brought in a reserve officer to oversee the process and told Teague that by July 24 the department was 15 percent finished with the task. Tegg also noted inconsistencies with the department's budget, reported that low starting salaries led to manpower shortages (and, in turn, a lackluster crime-solving rate) and noted that the evidence room was in "disarray."


;Not long ago, June 29 to be exact, we were knotting our gluten into natty dreads over the vegan revelation that is Ital Youths Rastaraunt on Silver Star Road; all peas, rice and artificial chicken piled into a savory sludge of Jamaican paradise that was kind to our souls and our animals.

;;Then we caught wind from the online Orlando Vegan Meetup Group that some "love" might not necessarily fit into "one love." One Meetup member posted a photo online of a door sign at the Rastaraunt that reads, "Ital Youths RASTAraunt promotes man wombman & family in this establishment, anything else is against the laws of Jah and will not be permitted!!"

;;Cleverly hateful spelling of the fairer gender aside, we took this to mean that there would be no peas for queers. (The owner reportedly responded on a Meetup message board by saying that he doesn't hate gays, he was just honoring Leviticus, or whatever.)

;;Seeing as we're all a little gay in O-Town, we took a queer and a not-so-queer staff member out to Pine Hills to test the Caribbean waters. The sign in question was indeed still up, so we ordered some tasty bits. Fine. Over in the cooler, we spotted a temptation impossible to refuse: a bottle of Bedroom Bully All Natural Herbal Tonic (it has "horney goat weed" in it!).


;Our straight half, female in appearance, presented two bottles to the attendant, saying, "We think that both of our boyfriends could use a little bit of this!" We waited for a fiery arrow or whatever to shoot across the counter and condemn our genitals. Instead, we got a polite laugh and a "thanks for coming in." No queers or animals were harmed in this transaction AND we get to keep our hair dirty! Jah, love.


;What's in a glass of beer? Yes, there's barley, hops, yeast and water, sometimes fruit if you're a dork. But have you ever considered what that glass, bottle or can really represents? Have you given any thought to the brave men and women who dedicate their lives to putting beer on your table? Have you ever considered a world without beer?

;;We'll tell you what beer means to your friends at Happytown™: Freedom. Because beer is good for America, and America means freedom. Ergo, beer means freedom. It's right there in the math.

;;According to the Beer Institute and the National Beer Wholesalers Association, beer contributes some 100,000 jobs, $2.8 million in wages and a total of $7.7 billion to Florida's economy annually. They've got a new website that lays it all out: And the cool thing about the site is that you can break down the stats by Congressional district.

;;Here in the 8th Congressional District, beer adds a whopping $497 million to the economy in jobs and wages, $63 million in taxes generated, and another $32 million in taxes paid. (Your friends at Happytown™ have personally contributed roughly 10 percent of those totals.)

;;So the next time you find yourself pie-eyed and legless, remember this: If you don't drink, the terrorists win.


;After a night of contributing to the economic health of this great nation, Happytown™ crawled out of bed at 7:30 a.m. Sept. 7 to rub elbows and red eyes with the growth-minded Downtown Orlando Partnership at their "Hot Topics" breakfast.

;;Hostess Shelley Lauten, who was representing, stood at the ready with a projection of a leafy plant and text reading "How Shall We Grow?" on the wall behind her. We think we might have been the only ones to roll our eyes at the pop quiz proffered at the outset. "How many counties and cities make up Central Florida?" was the first question, and nobody at our table (a couple of LYNX ladies, a sprinkler-system gal and indie U.S. Congressional candidate Wes Hoaglund) got it right. (Answer: seven and 86).

;;Some numbers of interest: The region is slated to double to more than 7 million residents by 2050 (about the size of the San Francisco Bay area; think of the restaurants!), while the percentage of developed land in the area is expected to rise to 52 percent (from a paltry 16 percent now). Lauten went on to outline a seven-step community outreach process, one that will end with a "community summit" in June of 2007 and will somehow involve the new direct response function of your Bright House remote.

;;We came away with orange-juice heartburn and the palpable sense of something more to worry about: the "region."

;;This week's report by Jeffrey C. Billman, Billy Manes and Bob Whitby.


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