A tip from the Happytown™ Travel Desk: Do not have a heart attack, or other emergency medical situation, at the Orlando International Airport. You may find employees there remarkably unwilling to help you out.
A safety memo released on June 22 (and mailed to Happytown™ HQ in a crafty envelope addressed with pink cutout newspaper clippings) makes it clear to Transportation Security Administration screeners that trying to aid a dying person can cost them dearly. According to the memo, screeners can voluntarily perform CPR or use a defibrillator, but they do so at their own risk (and only after getting permission from an almighty supervisor), even if they were trained as part of their job.
The memo states that the primary responsibility of screeners is to ensure transportation security. "While TSA employees may voluntarily render aid when authorized to leave their posts, such aid is not part of their official duties," the memo reads. "TSA employees acting in the capacity of a Good Samaritan may be personally liable for any claims arising from the provision of emergency aid, if not protected by local Good Samaritan laws, and will not likely be entitled to Federal Employees' Compensation Act (FECA) benefits, if injury or illness results from rendering emergency cardiac care."
So, Buddy Dyer will get to build Rich DeVos' Golden Pleasure Dome™ after all. On July 26, the Orange County Commission approved the three venues on a 5-2 vote, after enough commissioners were satiated by the Magic's promise to build five community gymnasiums and make the new arena Al Gore-friendly. Then county mayor Rich Crotty declared "Mission accomplished" (appropriate?) and the Sentinel's editorial board danced a jig and the rest of the county commission was just happy the damn 10-hour public hearing finally ended shortly before midnight.
We weren't there for the grand finale, but we did poke our heads in for a few minutes around 6:30 p.m., during the break that marked the split between the official presentations and the part where the unwashed got to speak while public officials tried not to fall asleep. (We watched other parts of the hearing on the county's live web stream, but Jesus that gets boring around hour three, so we went to a bar instead.)
Anyway, everyone was milling about: The Sentinel's cheerleaders-in-chief — Mike Griffin and George Diaz from the editorial board and that insipid jackass Mike Bianchi from the sports/Magic lobbying page — were mingling with the Magic and Citrus Bowl reps, and everyone was super-proud of themselves. Crotty's staffers were none-too-thrilled about the 150 comment cards the mayor was carrying in his hand, which indicated they had about eight hours of blather ahead of them (apparently, a few would-be speakers got tired of waiting). Dyer's reps were there too, all of them wearing "Build them all, build them right, build them now" stickers on their suits.
"You see how I got that green thing through," Linda Stewart told us with a wide smile. Neither the Magic nor the city were overjoyed about making the arena a LEED-certified building, because it costs more and the pinch-a-penny Magic pledged to pay cost overruns, but they agreed because they needed her vote.
A few minutes later, the public hearing reconvened and we skipped out. What was to happen was a foregone conclusion, orchestrated by the cocktail circuit club and an unquestioning daily newspaper (see "Slug," next page). There were lies and obfuscations, fudging and spin, but in the end the power brokers got their way and the rest of us are resigned to hoping that this house of cards doesn't collapse on itself.
We've been to a lot of Democratic events over the years — drunken ones, outdoorsy ones, campaign-y ones — and have to this point been impressed with the liberals' ability to not take themselves too seriously (and to hold their liquor). After all, everybody is welcome, and typically you're just as likely to splash your booze on a fat hippie or a skinny union supporter (or a skinny hippie or fat union supporter) while publicly acknowledging your love of taxes and lack of a respectable tax bracket. No pretense is what we're trying to say.
Well, apparently some Dems — the ones who actually make money — are set to launch their own support group right here in Central Florida this week, presumably in an effort to distance themselves from hippies and make themselves more TV-friendly in the event of a presidential pit stop.
The Democratic Professionals Council is what they're calling themselves (actually, they're part of state organization of the same name with an already thriving chapter in Palm Beach and start-ups launching in south, north, and west Florida) and Aug. 2 at 5:30 p.m. they're announcing their Orlando bid with an event at swanky 23 on Church Street featuring special guest, Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink. Snooze.
Altogether more interesting is the fact that we heard about this from Buddy Dyer's super-hot campaign manager, Anna Curran. We suspect that Mr. Dyer could probably use some moneyed liberal backing in the near future, right? That is if anybody gets up off of their ass and decides to compete against him.
Finally, an Orlando Weekly scribe gets the recognition he so richly deserves — and not from readers of this paper (bunch of ingrates). No, it took Orlando Magazine, everybody's favorite catalog of the best dentists and white people at parties, to recognize our own Jeffrey C. Billman as one of Orlando's best newspaper reporters. Billman came in second in the mag's best of Orlando poll, sandwiched between the Sentinel's David Damron and Mark Schlueb, both of whom we think highly of (see "Slug," next page). Congratulations to Billman. Now get back to work.
Now that we're a world-class city in the making, isn't it time Orlando attempted a brush with royalty? Why, yes it is!
The WE cable network's seemingly endless cesspit of reality programming fodder (cross on over, John Edward!) will take a painful bite out of Orlando Aug. 19, when the new season of American Princess premieres. And guess what? There's an Orlandoan in the lineup: 22-year-old Jasmine Espinal who is a student in Orlando and a "punk rocker" tomboy who "didn't even own a dress!" before attempting the feat that could bring her a British title, a dance with a European prince and $50,000. Forgive us, but we just died a little bit more on the inside.
This week's report by Jeffrey C. Billman, Billy Manes, Deanna Sheffield and Bob Whitbyhappytown@orlandoweekly.com