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City Hall's poor relations


As syrupy farewells go, Grace Chewning's final Orlando City Council meeting was an insulin-inducing affair.

In a Dec. 11 proclamation to the retiring city clerk, Mayor Glenda Hood described Chewning as "singularly distinguished," "admirable and productive" and "an inspiration to the entire Orlando community." "`Chewning` was so enthusiastic about her service to the city of Orlando that I think that may have been what planted the seed with me," Hood eulogized, "because I knew there were individuals like Grace Ann Chewning who were giving so much and cared so much for the city."

How ironic, then, that Hood was the one who booted Chewning from office -- if the City Hall rumor mill can be believed.

According to several insiders, chief administrative officer Richard Levey told Chewning last fall the mayor had new plans for the clerk's office -- plans that Chewning would not be a part of.

Chewning and Levey didn't return calls. But in a Jan. 17 "My Word" column in the Sentinel, Chewning listed four "outstanding mayors" she'd worked with in her 47 years at City Hall. Hood wasn't among them. (In the same column, Chewning mentioned that her retirement was "accelerated"; her husband, Bob, a former Orlando police chief, has been ill.)

Hood has been traveling and presumably hasn't seen the column. "I don't know if the mayor's feelings were hurt, because I haven't talked to her," says Susan Blexrud, a city spokeswoman.

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