Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Shame Of Sarasota: Where Did We Go Right ?

Today, I am ashamed of my town.

According to a survey by the National Coalition for the Homeless, Sarasota is no longer the "Meanest City In America." In fact, we didn't even make the top ten. In a 2006 study, we were #1. At the top of our game, living up to our snotty reputation as only we could; rousting the homeless, throwing them in the can, making their miserable lives, well, even more miserable.

Today, we're nothing but an 'also ran.'

It is, indeed, a sad day for the abuses of wealth and power everywhere.

Especially when you consider the places that beat us out this year. Los Angeles is at the top of the list. I watch enough cop shows on TV to understand that, what with all the rogue cops these shows seem to depict in just about every other episode and the fact that everyone in LA is either fabulouly wealthy or was fabulously wealthy and is now a homeless drug addict/serial killer. OK, I get that one.

Same goes for San Francisco. LOTS of homeless serial killers running around killing homeless people, so I can see them at #7 and nearby Berkeley at #10.

Atlanta at #4; eh, maybe.

Honolulu at #8? I don't remember Magnum, P.I., addressing homeless criminals much. Or even Hawaii 5-0, for that matter. This is surely an embarrassment for President Obama, however, being a hometown guy and all. I'm sure this is the last time we'll see them on the list while he's in office and still has any stimulus money left to buy them bus fare to the volcano.

Kalamazoo, MI in sixth place is another mystery. Where's Detroit on this list? Don't you think just being Detroit these days qualifies you to be in the top ten "meanest cities in America?" I mean, really, it's Detroit, for crying out loud.

Which brings us to the four representatives for the Sunshine State on the list. (At least we beat out California for having the most cities listed!)

How in the hell can St. Petersburg be in second place? It's "God's Waiting Room," is it not? Everyone knows that homeless people don't go to heaven, so why are there even homeless people in St. Pete? Somewhere there has to be "Satan's Waiting Room"--they should be living there, instead.

And Orlando at number three? Impossible! It's home to "The Happiest Place On Earth." Did you ever see Mickey giving the bum's rush to a bum? Ever see Minnie with a moocher? Pluto putting the bite on a panhandler? Orlando's inclusion on this list must have been some sort of a clerical error or something.

Gainesville in fifth place is another mystery, unless the National Coalition for the Homeless counts not supplying vagrants with tickets to Gator football games as cruel and unusual punishment. Maybe the University of Florida boosters are trying to keep the homeless and downtrodden out of sight of the college so the students can't see what the future of this brave new world holds in store for them. If they can't play football or basketball, I mean.

The biggest shame for Sarasotans is, by far, the appearance of our neighbors to the north on the list. Bradenton, long wallowing in the shadow of Sarasota, has silenced our thunder, squeezed us out of the limelight, kicked us to our well-manicured, gated curb, so to speak.

Their leaders had the foresight and vision to institute a crackdown on panhandling, employ the old bicycle sting operation (that was a good one--our Lexus sting last year went nowhere) and their newly-enacted camping ordinances helped to make them the ninth toughest town in the country. We salute you in your efforts.

Maybe if our elected officials wouldn't have spent so much time with their heads up the collective asses of Major League Baseball and their feet up the collective asses of the homeless, we could have retained our coveted title of "Meanest City In America."

Nice goin'.

You want cute, it ain't here on the Suncoast."

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