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1/20/2010

Columns > Happytown

Happytown

 

With every DUI infraction comes a heap of regret. Whether it’s the booze-filled gibberish of your just-two-beers-officer story or the realization that a sequined miniskirt wasn’t the best fashion choice for a holding cell full of hookers, it’s always a memory you’re better off forgetting. But what happens when you can’t forget, because your father is a camera-headbutting politico, you’re a public relations whiz with dirty political fingers and the media loves a good scandal? This does.

On Jan. 8, D’Anne Mica – daughter of U.S. Rep. John Mica, R-Maitland – got pulled over in Maitland with a blood-alcohol level twice the legal limit. Her hoop-earringed mug shot made its way across the area’s televisions with every expectation that it would drift away into that trivia hole where these things typically go (or into a Sentinel website “bad girls” photo montage). D’Anne, however, would not be so lucky.

Those who aren’t so fond of Mica and his position as the ranking Republican on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee had already been drawing connections between some of the projects he backed – like high-speed rail and other big road projects – and his daughter’s PR company, Mica Strategic Communications. Turns out, Mica Strategic lists Florida construction firm PBS&J among its clients on its website, www.micastrategic.com, and PBS&J just happens to be lobbying for some of the millions Mica has been working to secure for Florida to host a speedy rail line connecting Orlando and Tampa. Also among the younger Mica’s clientele is the Orlando Sanford International Airport, for which Mica helped secure federal aviation funds. The conflicts are rather interesting.

Unless, of course, your name is D’Anne and you’re hosting a pounding headache when ABC News calls you the Monday after your bailout. “My father has no idea what I do in my business,” she told the news organization. “And I have no idea what he does in his.”

Funnier still, PBS&J’s rep claims to ABC that, although they do remember working with Mica’s firm a few years ago, “We don’t remember if we used her or not.”

When ABC reached Rep. Mica’s chief of staff for comment, he could only relay, “She says she has never represented PBS&J. Why did she put it on her website? I don’t know.”

Everybody’s favorite blond-bobbed, chatterbox county commissioner and county mayoral hopeful, Linda Stewart, spent Jan. 14 through Jan. 17 hobnobbing her way through Medellín, Colombia. With state Rep. Darren Soto, D-Orlando, in tow, Stewart was scheduled to while away her time discussing economic development – tech jobs with reasonable living wages – with some of Colombia’s government and business leaders, because Medellín is now officially awesome. The World Bank recently ranked Colombia 37th among the countries in the world that are best for “doing business,” in part because they are good at “enforcing contracts.” Which is scary.

Anyway, Stewart was expected to trade secrets on high-speed rail, which we don’t have yet, and on commuter rail, which we are about to have, while zooming around on their commuter track, the Metro de Medellín, and talking a lot.

From the psychological war desk: Long before the beer-guzzling campus Greeks, there were the ancients, like playwright Sophocles, who wrote eloquently about the suffering of warriors and their loved ones. Turns out Sophocles’ words are as insightful today as they were then, and are being employed by the Department of Defense to help soldiers reintegrate after living the horrors of war.

The Theater of War Project is funded by the DOD’s two-year-old Defense Centers for Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury. And since 2008, actors and experts have performed in the play-reading and discussion program, as they did Jan. 14 at the Shades of Green Armed Forces Recreation Center at Walt Disney World.

Specifically, passages from Sophocles’ Ajax and Philoctetes are enacted by a rotating cast of actors and celebrities. (The Shades show featured Francois Battiste, Bill Camp, Elizabeth Marvel and Jay O. Sanders.) Brig. Gen. Loree K. Sutton is director of the Defense Centers and in a video presentation of the production, she tells the audience that suicides in the Army average almost one per day. Director and translator Bryan Doerries chose powerful excerpts such as the following, spoken by Philoctetes, a wretched casualty of the gods and battle:

But now, unhappy, I have been deceived.

What must I do? Nay, give it back to me;

Nay, even yet, be thy true self once more;

What say’st thou? Thou art dumb! I am lost, unhappy!

Not exactly recruiting-poster material.

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!

It was a big week for our lovable Tourette’s zombie. Back in September, Grayson made legislative waves when he stood up against the big ACORN blacklisting by offering an “extension of remarks” on HR 3221 effectively imposing a “corporate death penalty” on all government contracts that include legally challenged parties (that means you, Blackwater). Since then, a December injunction issued by a U.S. district judge stopped the resolution removing federal funding from ACORN, at least until ACORN’s lawsuit on the matter was resolved. So what does our Alan do?

On Jan. 13, Grayson presented a new bill, HR 4444 – aka the “Defund the Crooks Act” – that, if passed, would go ahead and cut off all relationships with any questionable organizations, regardless of the ACORN situation. Those affected would include any entity that even rubbed up against somebody who has ever broken a law, so it seems like more of a statement than a real possibility. Still, Alan’s playing hardball with the military-industrial complex again!

Back on the home front, Grayson found time Jan. 15 to announce that he was able to squeeze $4.2 million out of the federal government for Florida Hospital’s Nicholson Center for Surgical Advancement. According to his own public relations calculations, it will create 50 new high-paying jobs and 70 ancillary jobs, and “revolutionize both military and civilian capabilities in surgical robotic research.” Alan Grayson: supergeek.

Let’s say you have this guy/girl you’re sweet on. Let’s also say Valentine’s Day is coming up, which it is, and you want to make a big splash because last year’s box of Walgreens chocolates and hand-drawn gift certificate for a free house-vacuuming didn’t go over so well. The word “inconsiderate” may have even come up.

Well, friend, we’re about to give you an opportunity to proclaim your love out loud, and for a price even a tightwad like you can afford: absolutely free. It’s called Free Love. All you have to do is send your love lines to Orlando Weekly, along with a picture if you like. (Keep it cleanish; think PG-13). We’ll print as many of your gushings as we have room for in the paper, and put all of them online. The world will know how you feel, and you’ll be out of the doghouse for a week or so. You’re welcome.

Luddites can get their love to us via the post office: 1505 E. Colonial Drive, Suite 200, Orlando, 32803. But keep in mind that we won’t be sending anything back, so don’t ship us your only copy of a photo, because you’ll never see it again. We would much rather you sent us an e-mail at freelove@orlando weekly.com or filled out the Free Love form on our website, www.orlandoweekly.com. Get typing, Romeos and Juliets.

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