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11/25/2004

Happytown > Happytown

Buddy gets a new ride and city poops on dogs eating on patios

 

Buddy Dyer's got himself a new ride. Hizzoner will soon be cruising in a shiny black $31,000 2005 Ford Expedition that's about a half-block long and probably gets 12 mpg, city, as befitting the head of a sprawling megalopolis like New York. This being Orlando, we had to wonder, it's our job.

The car is being outfitted with lights, sirens, rockets, a device that creates a smoke screen for fast getaways … OK, we made the last two up, but wouldn't that be cool? In the parlance of kids these days, you could say Dyer's ride is being "pimped out." We would never say that, but you could.

Dyer's mighty Expo has been sitting inside a bay in the city's fleet maintenance center since it was purchased July 19, except for the two times that the mayor's deputy chief of staff, Capt. Joe Robinson, took it out during the hurricanes. Dyer will start using it next year.

Still, the SUV has become an issue in the city's ongoing labor dispute with the police union. Union officials, who say Dyer is negotiating in bad faith and not offering them a big enough raise, point to the fact that the car came out of the Orlando Police Department's budget. They think it's excessive in these cash-strapped times. And they think the mayor's hiding it so as not to aggravate an already contentious labor struggle. (Although fleet maintenance classifies it as an OPD patrol vehicle, there's no mention of it on an Aug. 9 log of police vehicles. Hmmm.)

"I don't really see it as a big deal myself," says police union chairman Sam Hoffman. "I don't really care what the mayor drives."

"[Dyer's] timing may not be the best," Hoffman adds.

If you were under the impression that Orlando was a "dog-friendly" city, brace yourself for a cold, wet turd on the sidewalk of reality: The state Department of Business and Professional Regulations, Division of Hotels and Restaurants, is cracking down on downtown O-town restaurants, threatening $5,000 fines for any eatery allowing dogs at outside patios.

"We've noticed that this has become a new trend, and more and more people are bringing their dogs out to dine with them," says Kristen Ploska, spokesperson for The Man in Tallahassee. "When we get a complaint, it's our responsibility to go to these restaurants and issue them a warning."

But Candie Ryser, owner of Sam Snead's downtown, is not ready to go down without a fight. "This is unfair because the health department turns a blind eye to places like Park Avenue in Winter Park, which on any given day has tons of dogs on the outside patios. Doggie dining is a weekend thing, and customers should be allowed to do it," says Ryser. "It's good for business, too."

Ryser is circulating a petition that would allow her restaurant a variance to state health codes banning live animals from eating joints.

It's worked elsewhere. According to WashingtonPost.com, 150 dog owners and their pooches protested on the steps of city hall in Alexandria, Va., after the health department there got tough. The city caved and struck a deal with restaurants and dog lovers.

To sign the petition visit www.PetitionOnline.com/PawPals/petition.html.

The planning of the new, LYNX Central Station – which went operational Nov. 14 – seems to have overlooked one minor detail: how the buses were going to navigate that problematic last block before entering the terminal.

Access on Livingston Street is halved by the Lymmo path that eats up the northern side of the boulevard; as of Nov. 15, bus drivers whose routes take them down Orange Avenue and onto Livingston were having a hell of a time trying to turn into the single narrow lane that's provided for westbound vehicles. A bus we were riding almost got stuck on the median after drastically miscalculating the available driving area, forcing eastbound cars to back up in fear.

Later that night, LYNX issued a desperate decree to all drivers: Use the Lymmo lane when turning off Orange, but give a Lymmo bus the right of way whenever one is present. Not since the hurricanes made "Treat it like a four-way stop" a motorists' mantra has local transportation veered so close to anarchy; clearly, a totally bitchin' accident can't be far off. (Remember when we had to drive out to Orlando Speed World to see stuff like this?)

Oh, and the bathrooms in the terminal were already broken by the first Tuesday morning.

This just in: Orlando Weekly is a cutting-edge bastion of journalistic integrity! Here at Happytown™, we're having a hard time not letting our egos get inflated, especially now that our local upscale plastic-surgery-&-golf glossy, Orlando Magazine, has poured a heapin' cup of praise on our heads.

In the November pigs-in-a-blanket "Media Notes" section, OM goes all watchdog on us, and we're not even the burglars this time. Instead they are jeering the Sentinel for lifting our Orkin exposé and not dropping us any credit. (We're used to it by now.) Then they dis WESH-TV Channel 2, Orlando Business Journal, and – get this – the CBS Evening News of doing the same. Dan, Dan, Dan.

To return the favor, we thought we'd try to lift something from OM, but didn't get very far with the travel tips or very hungry with the brunching ideas. But, hey, did you know there are a lot of overpriced condos popping up downtown? That's right. You read it here second.

Remember the cries of "hypocrisy" when House Republicans voted to make Rep. Tom DeLay their leader – despite his well-publicized and numerous ethical shortcomings – then changed the rules to allow him to stay their majority leader even if he's indicted in his native Texas? Considering that House Republicans themselves made the "get-indicted-lose-the-speaker's-job" rule as part of Newt Gingrich's Contract With America to demonstrate how fucking morally superior they are, the cries seem more than justified.

Well, we thought it would be fun to call our local (Republican) representatives and see how, exactly, one justifies a vote to 1) renege on the Contract With America, and 2) protect people indicted for crimes who happen to be influential in the party of God, guns and tax cuts.

Ric Keller – or, as both Happytown™ and GeeDubya refer to him, Ricky Boy – didn't vote on the issue. He was in a conference or eating a Double Whopper with cheese or something and couldn't break free. But according to Ricky Boy's chief of staff, Bryan Malenius, DeLay has Ricky Boy's unconditional support.

"Sure he's comfortable with Tom DeLay as Majority Leader," Malenius told us in an e-mail. "Mr. DeLay hasn't been indicted for anything and the prosecutor involved in this has a very sketchy, partisan track record."

Happytown™'s other rep, Tom Feeney, is among DeLay's biggest cheerleaders. The ethics committee's reprimand was a "slap on the wrist and a few suggestions," he told the Chicago Tribune. "We know he's a lightning rod because he's such an effective leader." To The New York Times he added, "I don't know why the Republicans (from the ethics committee) went along with this political hatchet job." (Corrine Brown is also one of our U.S. representatives, but being a godless Democrat she wasn't allowed to vote on the rule change.)

So just because you're indicted doesn't mean you're a bad person, as long as you're not a Democrat who gets indicted. Then you are a bad person. Follow?

QUASI-REGULAR FEATURE: UNFORTUNATE HEADLINES O' THE WEEK

Eisner hated Ovitz's package

Disney's Eisner testified that he hated giving former Disney president Michael Ovitz a hefty severance package.*
*Actual headline from OrlandoSentinel.com, the online version of The Orlando Sentinel, posted the afternoon of Nov. 17 and taken down shortly thereafter.

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