We've got to hand it to the fine persons (or person) at Orlando Direct Action; they know how to get in a good jab.
For two weeks running ODA has had their "bake sale for the Orlando Magic" table set up outside City Hall. The idea is as brilliant as it is sarcastic: to help billionaire Rich DeVos raise money to build a new arena for the Magic so the taxpayers don't have to.v Obviously, the persons (or person, in the form of Orlando's most lovable anarchist, Ben Markeson) don't dig the idea of corporate welfare for DeVos. And why should they (he)? Most Orlandoans (if polls are to be believed) are of the opinion that the Magic should stay if they can pay their way. Otherwise, don't let the revolving doors at the TD Waterhouse smack you in the ass on the way out of town, Rich.
June 13's bake sale raised $10.57 to help keep the Magic in town. The June 20 sale added $3 to the kitty, including $1 from Happytownª's own pocket for two delicious chocolate-chip cookies purchased out of hunger, not support for DeVos, we'd like it noted. At this rate, the Magic will raise the $100 million or so needed to renovate the arena in about 295,000 years. And if that doesn't say Orlando loves DeVos, we don't know what does.
But sadly, last week was the last bake sale for the Magic. Markeson says he was hassled by the cops for not having a permit, so he's moving on. ODA's next move to help out DeVos? Schoolkids collecting pennies for Rich.
Despite our delusions of grandeur, we've yet to master the whole omniscience thing. And since we can't be everywhere at once, we're sometimes put in the undesirable position of trying to find out what's going on at City Hall based on what movers and shakers say is going on. We've never in our lives known a politician to lie, of course, but it's not an inconceivable scenario.
Every once in a while, the mayor will meet with a commissioner, or two commissioners will meet with each other, and these meetings are public under Florida law. Technically everyone's invited, but more often than not no one shows up. So we depend on the minutes of those meetings keep abreast of stuff. But the minutes the city of Orlando produces are pretty much worthless.
A few examples. On May 12, Mayor Buddy Dyer met individually with four city commissioners. We don't know what they really talked about, but in each case, Dyer turned in the same notes: "They discussed strategic planning, growth management, and other City matters."
That's terrific, Buddy, but we'd sure love to know what you mean by "other city matters." Guess we'll just have to trust you that it's not another giveaway to some billionaire basketball tycoon or anything, right? There was a time, not so long ago, when you could pop into the city clerk's office in City Hall and read through all of your elected officials' e-mails. In this bygone era, the city figured that if the commissioners' and mayor's e-mails were out in the open for all to see, there'd be less chance of chicanery.
So when Happytownª was killing some time in the city's HQ, we decided to pop in and see what we could find. As readers of our "Letters to Buddy" semi-regular feature know, constituents sometimes make odd requests of their elected officials. Plus, commissioner Vicki Vargo just asked her constituents to comment on proposed spending cuts and we wanted to find out what kind of feedback she was getting. Trouble is, Vargo's e-mail hadn't been updated since February.
Shockingly, we found that only one commissioner, the public-records loving Patty Sheehan, had updated her e-mail in the last month. Daisy Lynum hadn't updated hers since 2002. (No worries; Dyer's are still easily accessible, which means more semi-regular features on the way.)
We asked the fine folks in the city clerk's office to find out what was going on. A few days later we got word that most of these commissioners your employees had decided you should have to work harder to see their e-mail, meaning you have to put in a public-records request to check up on their online activities.
A minor nuisance, sure. But why? Was it too much work for them to hit "forward"? Or, perhaps, did they want to make it a little tougher to find out what's going on behind the scenes?
Salvo fired! The police union lashed out at the Dyer administration in a press conference June 17. The event was couched as an olive branch between Dyer and the union, but it didn't take a rocket scientist to read between the lines. The offer was that the city and the union agree to accept the otherwise nonbinding recommendations of the special master who has presided over the impasse in contract negotiations. That report is due out in early July, and the city is under no obligation to pay attention to it. In fact, if the city rejects it, Dyer and company can impose whatever contract they want on the union after a public hearing. So to head that deal off, the union used the press conference to ask Dyer to agree to what the special master says.
Union chairman Sam Hoffman didn't really think Dyer would budge, but that wasn't the point. The point was to make the mayor look bad, and then if the dispute went to a public hearing the union could deploy its full PR arsenal to make him look even worse.
"If it goes, it's gonna be ugly," Hoffman tells Happytownª. Then there's the ever-lingering threat of a recall effort, which the union is considering against Dyer and commissioners they deem unfriendly (especially Vargo). Hoffman tells us he hasn't polled on the recall yet, basically because the union sees the freshly unindicted mayor as impotent.
"Why waste our effort on Dyer?" Hoffman asks. "He doesn't have the juice right now."
Still, the threat is pretty obvious: Give us what we want or we're coming after you.
Old Spice deodorant has a team of sweat experts who make their living smelling people's armpits, and they've just released their fourth annual Top 100 Sweatiest Cities List. Guess what? We're No. 9!
Bet it was the hurricanes. When the lights were dark for days on end and everything got funky, we were thankful for that cracked stick of Old Spice deodorant that helped disguise what was growing under our arms.
Phoenix is at the No. 1 spot, natch. Check out this disgusting fact: "In a two-hour period, residents of Phoenix collectively produced more than enough sweat to equal a 12-ounce glass of lemonade for everyone in the state of Arizona!"