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Hood vs. Osama



Politicians love grandstanding, and nothing gives them better opportunity to puff out their chests than the threat of an impending terrorist attack.

Case in point: Last year Orange County Chairman Rich Crotty touted his "leadership" following the Sept. 11 attacks as a reason he should be reelected. And on Feb. 7, when the federal government increased the nation's alert level to "orange," there was Orlando Mayor Glenda Hood.

"We will increase our surveillance and intelligence efforts," the mayor somberly told the Orlando Sentinel.

"I don't want to give up anything that could be a help to you-know-who," chimed Orlando police chief Mike McCoy.

Which makes us wonder: How much do our esteemed leaders actually know? And what are they doing about it?

So we called Rick Cumerford, the city's emergency manager. According to Cumerford, Hood isn't in the loop, intelligence wise. "From the intelligence end of things, we're pretty much a cog in the big wheel."

Cumerford's job is pretty much the same as it ever was, just a bit busier now. He advises businesses on hazard preparation, be it hurricanes, tornadoes or terrorist attack. Have food, water, batteries and a radio handy. (Incidentally, he thinks Homeland Security director Tom Ridge's recent admonition to buy plastic wrap and duct tape is as silly as the old schoolhouse duck-and-cover drills.) With the terrorists about, Cumerford does urge increased "vigilance," which means if you see something funny -- and not just something funny involving Arab-looking men, he quickly cautions -- call the cops.

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