TOURIST DEVELOPMENT TAX REVENUES FOR ORANGE COUNTY IN 2012, FROM AN ESTIMATED 56 MILLION VISITORS WHO SPENT MORE THAN $30 BILLION IN THE COMMUNITY
ORANGE COUNTY UNEMPLOYMENT RATE, DOWN FROM 11.3 PERCENT SINCE MAYOR TERESA JACOBS’ ELECTION IN 2010
INCREASE IN AVERAGE HOUSING SALES PRICE IN ORANGE COUNTY SINCE 2010; 23 PERCENT IN THE LAST YEAR
“BUT MOST IMPORTANT, WE HAVE YOU: THE HEART AND SOUL OF THIS COMMUNITY. YOU ARE THE PEOPLE WHO MAKE THINGS HAPPEN. YOU BRING THE MAGIC. YOU BRING THE CULTURE. YOU BRING THE DIVERSITY. YOU BRING THE HEALING. YOU BRING THE TEACHING. YOU KEEP THE FAITH. YOU BRING THE LOVE THAT MAKES ORANGE COUNTY A SUSTAINABLE, THRIVING COMMUNITY – OUR HOME FOR LIFE.”
–ORANGE COUNTY MAYOR TERESA JACOBS
SOURCE: STATE OF THE COUNTY ADDRESS, JUNE 14
STATE OF SCHLOCK
If you’re the type of gal on the go that likes your chatterbox morning TV served with a side of caffeinated boosterism and a smudge of civic pancake, then Friday’s juiced-up State of the County address – condemningly titled “A Sustainable Orange County – Our Home for Life,” because this is a fallout shelter – was just the kaffeeklatsch for you. Presented out at Full Sail University in a manner that made moments appear better through overt pixelation, the presentation exemplified everything that you already expect from the down-home upsell of Central Florida’s creative crackerism: We’re state-of-the-art, but we like churned butter on the front porch; we’re a digital destination of the future, but we’ll throw a rotten orange at your face if you so much as spit on our lawn. Bless your heart. Charmed, we’re sure.
But if you came for substance on Friday morning – full disclosure: We watched live from TV because we knew there would be no substance – you’d have been hard-pressed to make out a single sentient revelation atop the sound of insular old-money back-patting. In a performance that saw Jacobs fawning over event sponsors the Central Florida Hotel and Lodging Association (textgate besties!) and state Sen. David Simmons (“the executioner,” Jacobs called him, echoing the “kill shot” sick-time language of yore), Jacobs did her best to traverse the minefield of monologue missteps about The Jetsons and flying cars before disintegrating into the hokum of a colloquial statistician. Every weekend when Jacobs and a member of her “kitchen cabinet” – husband Bruce – are at Home Depot to get stuff to presumably fix their kitchen cabinets again, they notice that the lines are getting longer. Why?
Because the recession is over!
Real figures necessarily followed – unemployment’s down, tourism is up, house prices are up and commercial permitting is on the rise, largely because government is bad, said Jacobs, and she’s trying to streamline everything. Our convention center is awesome, the Brazilians love us so much that Jacobs is about to bone up on Portuguese, and Disney is God. Oh and hey, you guys, the new performing arts center “will change how the world sees us and how we see ourselves.” It is, in short, a funhouse mirror.
But that comedic distortion wouldn’t, in the end, be enough. Jacobs’ centerpiece for her toastmastering was a “branding” exercise intended to inform the world that we’re not all about vomiting turkey legs off of rollercoasters into the laps of hookers at conventions. No siree, we’re asking the world to “imagine” that Orlando is a hub for modeling, simulation and training – we make fake wars! – as if that were a secret that Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer hasn’t been keeping for the past five years of his overwrought speeches. Anyway, even though this may be news to everyone else, Jacobs announced that the mean folks in Virginia and Alabama already have plans to steal this sweet drone-flavored pie away from us, so we’re forming a blue-ribbon panel (!) to stop them. You know, right after the pie-eating contest at the end of one of Central Florida’s nature trails, full of “crisp air” in summer. Ack!
The only real development – or obligatory new technological leap – this year came in the form of the “Orange Stats Dashboard,” a sort of beta attempt at a searchable government transparency database that, at least for now, is little more than an electronic brochure full of pie charts designed to make the county look good. And, if you’re to ask Jacobs, the county already looks great – because of “you, the heart and soul of this community.” Feel better? Get off our lawn.