From the archives: Memorable Orlando stories from 2013-2015 

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Feb. 13-19, 2013

The streetlights serve as the spotlights, and a row of classic cars acts as the backdrop as 72-year-old Jack Lewis sits perched on the tailgate of his pickup truck, plucking a banjo.

Every Friday night for the past 22 years, Lewis has sat in the same spot in this Ocoee parking lot, near the intersection of Route 50 and Maguire Road. And, just as it has for all of those years, a crowd builds around him as he plays – musicians with banjos and fiddles and guitars and mandolins and upright basses join him, spectators in folding chairs settle in for a show, curious passers-by stop to watch the unusual scene. – Ashley Belanger, "Roadside attraction: The Ocoee parking lot bluegrass jam"

April 9-15, 2014

[Charlene] Dill's death was not unpredictable, nor was it unpreventable. She had a documented heart condition for which she took medication. But she also happened to be one of the people who fall within the gap created by the 2012 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allowed states to opt out of Medicaid expansion, which was a key part of the Affordable Care Act's intention to make health care available to everyone.

In the ensuing two years, 23 states have refused to expand Medicaid, including Florida, which rejected $51 billion from the federal government over the period of a decade to overhaul its Medicaid program to include people who work, but do not make enough money to qualify for the Affordable Care Act's subsidies. They, like many, are victims of a political war – one that puts the lives and health of up to 17,000 U.S. residents and 2,000 Floridians annually in jeopardy, in the name of rebelling against President Barack Obama's health care plan. – Billy Manes, "The perils of Florida's refusal to expand Medicaid"

Aug. 6-12, 2014

About a year ago, prospects seemed bleak for touring shows of contemporary art in Orlando. We feared that there would be no more new work shown in our museums by the likes of Hasan Elahi or Judy Rushin, no more retrospectives on the level of Jess: To and From the Printed Page, no more delightful group exhibits like The Mysterious Content of Softness.

Please forgive our momentary crisis of faith. With the recent gift to Rollins of the Alfond Collection and CFAM's impending Fractured Narratives show, the sun peeked over the horizon – now, with the inaugural Orlando Museum of Art Florida Prize in Contemporary Art, we've seen the light. – Jessica Bryce Young, "Artists compete for the Florida Prize at the Orlando Museum of Art"

March 18-24, 2015

Last week, Florida once again caused the nation's eyes to collectively roll when it came to light in a report by the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting, published by the Miami Herald, that Gov. Rick Scott had allegedly forbidden state staffers from invoking terms that hint at the scientific reality of climate change. – Billy Manes, "Gov. Scott seems to think that the best way to deal with climate change is to just not talk about it"

June 10-16, 2015

In October, according to the New York Times, Disney summoned 250 of its tech workers and told them that they were being laid off. Their jobs weren't being eliminated – they were being replaced by workers employed by HCL America, a branch of a company based in India that contracts with American companies to hire cheap labor from overseas. HCL imports contract workers to take over tech jobs at a portion of the cost of what companies pay to hire their own employees to do the same work. HCL America has been contracting with Disney since 2012, and Disney says this most recent round of layoffs is part of a "restructuring" of its technology group. Not only were the Disney workers restructured out of jobs – the story says that they were also instructed to train their replacements, at the risk of losing severance pay and benefits if the new workers couldn't perform their new duties adequately. Right-to-work state, indeed. – Erin Sullivan, "Disney imports cheap overseas help to replace local workers because it can"



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