Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Tallahassee Dreamin'

What can I say about our beautiful capital city? 
I spent a full May to May in this town of Whataburgers, Guthrie's and kegs. Ten months of that time was spent resenting my location and two actually getting used to this somewhat likable, useless place. I find, as I returned this week, that it's even more likable when you don't have to live here. 

I volunteered to come up for Dade Days with my former employer, Human Services Coalition, since I am out of work, and in need of do-gooding. Dade Days are when activist groups from Miami come up to meet with legislators on issues that are important to them. We came up to encourage them to increase the cigarette tax, remove certain unnecessary tax exemptions (bottled water) and put that money toward healthcare. The other main issues involved removing Kidcare barriers and supporting immigrant protection. 

About twenty community members and a few staff all rode up on the bus on Tuesday. The a/c broke on the way up and the bus got caught on an incline for hours when we got to the hotel, but otherwise, the trip has been a low key, civic expression. Yesterday was the big day of meeting with legislators. We ended up talking to a few conservatives who really could not have cared less about our opinions. 

I was in the Creole speaking crew, half of which was perpetually tired, and scattered in various chairs around the Capitol building. One aide I spoke with, Rep. Rivera's to be exact, asked me, "how often do you even go to the doctor anyway?" when I spoke about limiting administrative barriers for KidCare. What a chummy gal, right? I told her, not so often as an adult, but as a kid with frequent ear infections, I lived off of penicillin. She was a treat though, compared to Rep. Llorente's aide who hmed and uh-huhed me for five minutes. Finally when I said that we were hoping to bring down the full federal dollars from the stimulus package, he spoke and said, 
"well that's not going to happen." So I told him, "you know, I'm allowed to ask." And he and some other Republican douche laughed, hahaha. He said, "you are." Oh man, I'm glad I have an attitude, because these dudes really need someone to not cower under their power-hungriness. These guys are STATE legislators, I mean, you're not Obama's staff, and you never will be, so show an ounce of respect for your constituents. 

Back on the Tally tip. I wanted to talk a bit about the fun things I actually got to do up here. We were staying across the street from the Silver Slipper, infamous for its curtained booths. Apparently legislators are known for bringing their mistresses there. I ended up in the lounge of the Silver Slipper called Diamond Jim's. On Tuesday night they have karaoke, and these people were belting out some seriously amazing country tunes. I was more than impressed. Of course, I sang a little, my Patsy Cline was decent, even Rick in a cowboy hat complimented me. 

Last night I ate at San Miguel's, which was good Mexican, but the $10 margarita pitcher was a straight up bad idea. Some oldies but goodies met up with Miami, bro at Leon Pub, which has one of the longest beer lists of any bar I've ever been to. It is impressive, to say the least. The juke box is one of my favorites, not a ton of options, but quality options. 

Right now, I'm sitting in the Capitol, itching to get home. Mostly glad I came up, and I hope, if nothing else, I was useful as a human GPS, helping my group find their way around a strange and southern place.

Pictures: do you see that that, above, is a stuffed elephant on the wall? 

Broken buses and wheelchairs are not good partners. 
Sen. Wilson was nice to the Creole crew. 
This guy was great... his name is Rep. Luis Garcia (seriously). 
It was the week of the child or children's week, so the capitol building was really beautiful with artwork by children. 


eldesaparecido said...

Cool post.

krylonultraflat said...

I miss leon pub. And a few desperate souls still stranded there. Actually I miss a lot of things about Tally, which is surprising.

Abel said...

"One aide I spoke with, Rep. Rivera's to be exact, asked me, "how often do you even go to the doctor anyway?" when I spoke about limiting administrative barriers for KidCare. What a chummy gal, right?"

I'm guessing you met Ms. Alina Garcia. Lovely woman /sarcasm. It appears she's the one Rep. Rivera defers too when he can't be bothered with dealing with constituent concerns.

I went up to Tally for the rally on education a few weeks back, and met with her too. Called me a socialist and said "public schools breed delinquents". Check out my post, if you'd like. It was amazing that someone like that would be authorized to speak at all.

EAT said...

- Thanks, amigo!

- Everytime I go back, I realize how great Tally is - in some ways. So many local businesses, yummy food and it smells good up there. Fresh air.

- Abel, it was Alina Garcia. I am impressed by how rude she was to you. She actually was polite to me, I think because I'm a little older, I speak quickly and I tend to pander a bit.
She made some points that she thought were valid - about the $1 increase in cig taxes, she said people would just go to the Indian Res to get tax free cigs; she mentioned that people tax exemptions on bottled water because they buy water for hurricanes. OK. Her points are clearly moronic. I mean, I don't even have to explain why they're so lame; it's obvious. But at least she made an effort to debate us. The other aides we met with that weren't "on our team" (Flores and Llorente) were just so dismissive and lacked any information on any of the issues on which we were speaking. Even this one Dem from Miami Beach, Steinberg, was just incredibly unfriendly. There were a group of "community members" who went all the way up there to be dismissed. Incredible.

Bravo to you for going up to Tallahassee. I saw your post and am excited to read it later. You make me proud to be an American! Seriously though, keep up the good work!