The dust never settles in downtown Orlando. Even on a tryptophan-lazy news week there's some new development blotting up the horizon.
At the well-attended Municipal Planning Board meeting Nov. 22 — sort of like a city council meeting with less dynamic understudies — item No. 12 was introduced with clerical anonymity. But it's a biggie. The corner of Central Boulevard and Rosalind Avenue is on the docket to receive a conceptual makeover, one the likes of which Lake Eola has never seen!
Would it be a condo? Could it be a hotel? Heavens no! It's a "hondo," ladies and gentlemen: a hotel with a condo on the side; a bisexual-use establishment that is the wave of the future.
The as-yet-unnamed, 39-story behemoth will hold 91 multifamily dwellings and 200 hotel units (from the ninth floor up), a restaurant and retail space. A lawyer for the developer sold the hotel portion's importance by mentioning that the hotel group commissioned is "mysterious, exciting, international and not represented in this market." Hmmm, maybe it's Motel 6.
Later, an architect pitched the dual use of the property as a gateway to Lake Eola Park, pointing out in exhaustive detail the plans for landscaping that bleeds into the already existing lake thoroughfare and for an outdoor restaurant. The city's already been working with them on this one, so don't think your petty grievances will amount to much more than a tissue and a pat on the head. This "hondo" is happening, partner.
Are you a Limey residing in O-Town (or anywhere in Florida) who is considering a move back to Blighty because 'Merkins are really getting on your tits? Maybe you just miss the Beeb and Mum's glop? Read on, mate, because your opportunity may be knocking.
ITV, the most popular commercial TV network in Britain (according to their website, anyway) is making a documentary about British expats considering hopping back across the pond. If you qualify, ITV will fly you back to England for a little fact-finding tour. What would your life be like in the mother country? What kind of dosh would you be making? What kind of pad would you be living in? Who would you be shagging? Will you finally be able to stop drinking the gnat's piss that passes for beer in the states?
If this sounds at all interesting to you, contact Charlotte Dawes straight away at firstname.lastname@example.org. If not, sod off.
So, just how is the war on Christmas going? Have there been any major troop movements? Casualties? Has it turned into a full-fledged sectarian campaign? Why won't the mainstream media keep us up to date?
If you really want to know how goes the war on Christmas, you'll need to check out the website of the Longwood-based Liberty Counsel, aka the Bible-rappin' lawyers who harass homos in the name of Jesus. Mathew Staver, the LC's head homo harasser, has compiled a "naughty and nice" list on the site (www.lc.org) to help all good Christian soldiers know where they should and shouldn't spend their almighty dollars. Lowe's, for example, is naughty because its employees will only wish you a merry Christmas if you wish them one first. Clearly they hate the baby Jesus. Home Depot apparently does also, because its website relegates the word "Christmas" to the bottom of the page. Pagans. Toys "R" Us prefers "holidays" instead of "Christmas." And the list of shame goes on.
On the other hand, Wal-Mart, Target, JC Penney and Kohl's all feature "Christmas" prominently in their holiday advertising, which earns Staver's stamp of approval. And isn't that what the holidays are really about?
Every government needs a good watchdog, and Orange County is no different. For as long as we can remember, the watchdog has been a bipartisan group called CountyWatch. They issue reports and ask questions, all with the goal of keeping the powers that be honest. With a city/county spending spree of epic proportions on the horizon and the Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority hobbled by allegations of corruption, a group of notables and activists willing to call "bullshit" every once in a while is beyond necessary. We can't do it all ourselves, you know.
CountyWatch is about to get a new leader: Gary Pfister, the bearded, bald-headed vice chairman of the Orange County Republican Executive Committee. Before you crazy libs get all tizzied up, know the CountyWatch chairmanship alternates between members of different parties. The current leader, Doug Head, was once head of local Democrats. Prior leaders include county commissioner Linda Stewart (Democrat) and former county commissioner Lou Treadway (Republican). Besides, as best we can tell, Pfister is a stand-up guy. Here's hoping he's the ball-buster this region so desperately needs in these spend-happy times. Go get 'em, Gary!
I pay $3,000 in taxes a year for a 700-square-foot condo on Ridgewood Street. I love downtown and all that you can do there. What I do not like is all the bums living downtown with me. We walk to the restaurants on Central two to three times a week. We eat outside and the bums come up to you and beg for money while we are eating. This happens almost every time we eat there. Last night I was walking to 7-Eleven to buy a drink when a bum begged me for money. When I told him no he almost acted like he was going to attack me. Calling me names and coming close to me. I”D LIKE TO KNOW WHAT YOU ARE GOING TO DO ABOUT THIS PROBLEM? Since Glenda Hood left office the bums have gotten worst. There are things you have implemented that I like very much. I like how you have let downtown grow, new condos, tearing down old buildings for new growth and many other issues. But I do not like having bums walking around my condo complex, at the restaurants I go to and being accosted by them period. I want to know what you are going to do about this issue? I pay my taxes and I expect to be able to enjoy downtown without the bums!!!
Orlando, FL 32803
This week's report by Jeffrey C. Billman, Billy Manes and Bob Whitby.email@example.com