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  • Dateline: Central Florida, Spring 2011
  • Problem: More than 1 million Floridians unemployed

Enter Workforce Central Florida, a federally-funded labor development agency, who is about to tackle the above problem with a $73,000 PR campaign.

I’m guessing that at some point, the agency’s key players were called together for a meeting. They probably even locked the doors behind them. “No one leaves until we’ve eradicated unemployment in Central Florida,” someone probably said.

So (again, I’m guessing) they gathered around the conference table, tossing out idea after idea in search of the perfect solution for the problem that is unemployment. Finally, someone shouts, “Eureka!”

Everyone’s attention turns in the direction of the glowing light bulb shining above the room’s genius – they hang on his every word.

“I’ve got it! We’ll hand out superhero capes to all who are unemployed. Then we’ll make giant foam cut-outs of a villain. We’ll dub this villain ‘Dr. Evil Unemployment.’ The world will be our oyster!!”

The room erupts with excitement as sounds of cheers and pats on the back seep under the conference room door and into the hall. Someone says (and I’m making this up), “hey, could someone pass the bong this way again? And while you’re at it, I’ll take some of those Doritos, too.”

Because how else could a room full of people actually be suckered into thinking that some superhero capes and a cartoon cutout of Dr. Evil Unemployment could wipe out unemployment?

It may come as no real surprise that Florida’s labor officials want an investigation into the matter – even the executive director of Florida’s Agency for Workforce Innovation has raised both eyebrows over this one. Gee, I wonder why…

Could anyone who might choose to wear said cape could be taken seriously? I doubt it. Could they be sent for mental evaluations? Likely. God forbid they try to scale a wall, or leap tall buildings with a single bound, or burn Dr. Evil Unemployment at the stake.

If you thought we’d gone as far downhill as we could, here’s what else the Orlando Sentinel‘s Jim Stratton had to say in his cape-coverage story:

The “Cape-A-Bility Challenge” is part of an “Everyday Superheroes” theme the agency has adopted. Its website features videos of employers, job seekers and (Workforce Central Florida Chairman Owen) Wentworth in capes similar to those the agency plans to distribute to the unemployed.

Shot in slow-motion and underscored by a heroic soundtrack, Wentworth strikes a Superman pose, dramatically removing his glasses. In another scene he taps out a message on his BlackBerry.

Seventy-three grand to spend enlightening the unemployed about services and prospective jobs, and this is the best we’ve got, people? Unbelievable.

In all fairness, the story’s author goes on to write this:

Between July 1, 2009, and June 30, 2010, the agency says it served more than 210,000 job seekers and helped place more than 58,500 into jobs.

Which is nothing short of a miracle, considering they achieved that without the first superhero cape or Dr. Evil Unemployment cutout. Just sayin’…


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