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I fled the South over three years ago, and, since then, I periodically took pride in hearing my hometown mentioned in the news.  I beamed when I heard Obama took Alachua County by a huge margin in the primaries (the so-called Reagan Democrats in that area teem like locusts, so I wasn’t optimistic about his chances). And, of course, my alma mater, UF, made me proud with national championship and "don’t tase me bro..."  That’s my hometown, I’d often boast to my Philadelphian friends.

But this recent episode and the resulting media attention for Gainesville horrifies me. Every time I hear "Gainesville" from the lips of the national media now, I cringe. Which is why I desperately need more of this in my news intake:

The city of Gainesville's top administrator said Wednesday that he will send Terry Jones, the senior pastor at the Dove World Outreach Center, a bill for the estimated tens of thousands of dollars it will cost to police the area if the church goes through with its plan to burn the Quran on Saturday.

"We definitely plan on sending him a bill," City Manager Russ Blackburn said at City Hall...

Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell said she would also consider billing Dove World for the expenses her agency will incur.

Now that’s a cathartic read. Inshallah, said bills will put that crazy little micro-cult out of business and send their inbred leader scurrying back under the rock that originally housed him. The same rock that undoubtedly gave us the tea-party movement.

On a more somber note, the following is a letter a local soldier sent the Gainesville Sun pleading with Terry Jones to cease his stunt:

"Mr. Jones, I am begging you ... PLEASE halt what you are planning," Long wrote. "I fear that what you are planning will have a devastating outcome for those of us serving abroad in harm's way to keep our families and fellow Americans, including yourself, safe and secure. I pray that you will search your heart and ask yourself if this act is truly worth what it will cost all of us Americans in possible bloodshed, bloodshed that will come directly because of your personal actions."

It's all too surreal. I'm looking forward to the national news stories in early January that will discuss Gainesville in the context of national championships once again...

Originally posted to Bob Sackamento on Thu Sep 09, 2010 at 07:49 PM PDT.

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