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7/3/2008

Happytown > Happytown

HAPPYTOWN

 

You know how every time Orlando makes national news, it’s for something embarrassing? Yeah, we did it again.

On June 28, somebody tagged 24 cars parked across the street from City Hall, some of them with clever, incorrectly spelled anti-Obama phrases like “Oboma smokes crack.” Then the poet left a business card on the cars’ windshields telling them that Obama and McCain are evil and only Hillary will save us. (Now that the Paultards are gone, can we call these folks Hillarytards? Doesn’t have the same ring.) Our tagger also supports pot legalization and is single and looking. Wonder why.

Damage: About 10 grand. Reminding the world that we live in the per-capita capital of stupid: Priceless.


Think Barack Obama is a right-winger? Want to revive a government system that’s failed everywhere it’s been tried? We’ve got an event for you. The Socialist Party, which hasn’t been a viable political force since 1912, wants to get its groove back. Its presidential candidate, Brian Moore, will be speaking at the University of Central Florida on July 9, in the UCF Student Union. You Reds are totally welcome to exercise your “right to assemble” and whatnot, but know that we’ll be watching.


From the Corrupt Politicians Desk: We no longer have to pay any attention whatsoever to former State Rep. Sheri McInvale.

On June 27, McInvale pleaded no contest to filing a false official statement to pay for a print job; essentially, she tried to get reimbursed by the state for $2,000 worth of non-state printing business, which is illegal.

McInvale, ever the drama queen, nearly teared up at her sentencing, mouthing something about how her son witnessed her arrest and it was very traumatic. She got 100 hours of community service, and became the latest pol to get a gentle wrist slap from Lawson Lamar’s crusading show pony, the Government Accountability Unit.


Guess who’s leaving the Orlando Sentinel this week: None other than editorial board editor Jane Healy, the brave voice who has spent quite a few years lecturing us on … umm, we don’t remember. But that’s not the issue.

The Sentinel editorial board is kinda vanilla, and we stopped paying attention a while ago when Healy and Co. got obsessed with red-light cameras. But hey! Healy won a Pulitzer Prize, so we congratulate her on her “retirement” – which we’re sure has nothing to do with the Tribune Co.’s newfound love for bright graphics and pink slips.

By our count, Healy is the 18th Sentinelian to leave this year and the fourth heavy hitter, following publisher Kathy Waltz, vice president of communications Ashley Allen and public editor Manning Pynn. Any day now, we’ll be hearing that columnist Mike Thomas has joined the Peace Corps and will spend the next six months feeding starving children in Zimbabwe.


Orange County has been in a lather over the recent opening of its first ethanol fueling station. There was a ceremonial ribbon-cutting in June, making it almost sound like Orlando might be ahead of the curve on alternative fuels. Until you consider it was set up to fuel only 123 county vehicles.

The use of corn-based ethanol is controversial, because many experts think it takes as much energy to produce the fuel as you get from the fuel. Subsidized ethanol production may also jack up food prices, increase global warming and destroy forests. On the plus side, it’s not a fossil fuel.

Orange County Mayor Richard Crotty says the ethanol station is Orlando’s own contribution “in the forefront of the worldwide movement to reduce greenhouse gases.” In other words, it’s a nice thought, even if no one uses it.


Uh-oh. As we reported a couple of weeks ago (“The fat lady sings,” June 19), the city’s mystical, magical cornerstone in the grand elevation of itself from backwater to Xanadu (anyone else remember that attraction?), the Dr. P. Phillips Performing Arts Center, may have some financial cracks to caulk before its 2012 christening: namely, the arts groups that it’s meant to house don’t really have the money to pay the rent.

Even supposing the flim-flam lowballing proffered by DPAC’s consultant is accurate – about $4,500 a day at its highest – the rental rate is still more than quadruple what they’re paying now at the Bob Carr. Oh, and we’re in a recession.

On June 26, things got a little worse for the Orlando Opera, Orlando Ballet and Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra. At its yearly meeting at the Lowndes Shakespeare Center, United Arts announced that, although their private-sector fund-raising campaign for 2008 surpassed its goal by one percent (totaling $3.75 million), they would be cutting their grant pool for the area’s 14 major arts and cultural organizations by 12 percent “due to potential reductions in government funding.” Ouch!

The ballet takes the biggest hit of the DPAC triumvirate; its grant money will plunge from $280,000 last year to $241,000 this year, nearly 14 percent. The opera follows with $352,000 last year to $314,000 this year, nearly 11 percent less. And the orchestra takes the smallest cut, dropping from $278,000 to $268,000, more than 3 percent.

“Our ability to work together has never been so critical,” said United Arts president and CEO Margot Knight in a press release. “Our challenges are clear – the cultural community is projecting negative growth for the first time in 15 years. Government funding is tight and we have a new performing arts center in Orlando on the way.”

Should be an interesting show.

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