Sometimes this column is so magnificently right, years ahead of everyone else, that we have to praise ourselves. Yay us!

Do the terms “Federal-Livingston-Otey Place” or “Pepperhill Park” (now known as “Callahan Square”) ring any bells? They should. Long story short: In 2003 and 2004, a company tied to Orlando city commissioner Daisy Lynum tried to finagle a very sweet deal for this property that involved very little investment on its part and a lot of money on yours. We reported on it, and soon thereafter that little debacle went away. But then it came back, with some new Lynum-connected players, and in 2006 the city council signed off, despite the fact that the plans for the property were just stupid.

So anyway, we were right about all that. On Jan. 16, the Lynum-approved developer, PSA Constructors Inc., sent the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency a letter asking for a six-month extension of the closing date, which was supposed to be no later that Feb. 9.

The reason for the delay? Minor details like not getting a construction loan or a construction contract together and failing to complete a marketing study. And then there’s the whole matter of the collapsing real estate market. “As you well know, the pricing for affordable housing” – let’s stop right here for a moment to note that PSA’s early plans called for $500,000 homes in this crime-infested area, until that idea was ridiculed – “is something of an art form in steady economic conditions,” PSA president Patrick Aliu wrote. “The homes need to be affordable for the target market of buyers, yet they need to carry a sufficient margin of remuneration to make the project financially feasible for the developer.”

Translation: They don’t know how to sell this thing and make a profit. We predict that PSA will soon be asking the city for subsidies beyond the deep discount they’re already getting for the land. And, far-fetched as it may sound considering how stringent Orlando is with your tax dollars (that’s sarcasm, folks), they’ll probably get them.

So to recap: We were right.

Dear God: We’ve got a lot of criminals running amok down here in the City Beautiful and we sure could use your help. Sincerely, the Orlando Police Department.

Last year, you’ll recall, in an effort to stave off an increasing wave of violent crime, OPD got a bunch of churches to head out to Parramore every day for 40 days to enlist God’s help with smiting crackheads and other criminals. Turns out that ploy either worked so well or so poorly -that they’re doing it again!

Last week, OPD spokescop Barb Jones dispatched an e-mail to Happytown™ HQ announcing “Operation Armor All (Phase II)”.
From Feb. 6 to March 16, the police department wants to find one church to pray to and praise the Lord for one hour each of those 40 days “in a target community.”

Let’s assume that the first one worked and there was some dramatic decrease in crime that we didn’t hear about. Does that mean that, on Day 41, the Almighty decided he had other things to do – the Sudan’s kind of a mess these days – and Orlando was left to roil in its own filthy immorality? If that’s the case, then why are we only praying for 40 days again this time? Shouldn’t we ask for an extension? Shouldn’t we just ask for all bad guys to turn into pillars of salt and be done with it?

If you didn’t already realize that real journalism is dead, look no further than the Gawker.com video of billionaire Sam Zell, who bought the Tribune Company and all of its holdings, including the Orlando Sentinel, in December. Zell was in town to “rally” the troops Jan. 31. Looking like a drunk hobo, he made sure everyone in the room knew that this bullshit about afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted was no way to run a damn business. The Sentinel, boomed this publishing scion whose publishing resume goes back all of two months, needs to write stories that readers want. You know, heartwarming stuff. When photographer Sara Fajardo had the temerity to take issue with the fact that readers want stories about puppies, Zell popped a gasket and spouted some craziness about journalistic arrogance. Then he added a nice “fuck you” at the end.

When Zell bought Tribune late last year, he went on endlessly about how he wasn’t going to interfere in editorial. Guess that didn’t last.

What’s funny, in a sad sort of way, is that the Sentinel is already a lapdog full of fawning coverage of politicians, reader-friendly pablum and “news you can use.” Soften it any more and they’ll have to deliver it to your driveway in a bowl.

What a long, gay trip it’s been. From its early days in 1993 as Family Values to its sunset as Gay Orlando Talk (The Homo Happy Hour), Chris Alexander-Manley and hubby Tommy Manley have been queering up an hour a week on WPRK-FM (91.5) with sophisticated banter and “issues” chatter. Now the homos will be happy no more.

The Manleys have decided to lay to rest their 15-year project with a final show noon Feb. 29. Also seeing its demise (at least in terms of their involvement) will be the Gay Orlando Film Festival, which celebrated its fifth anniversary in October. What in the gay hell is going on?

Alexander-Manley blames it on his age (50!) and the need to tend to personal family issues, as well as their lot of rescued golden retrievers and Great Pyrenees. They’ll keep their big ticket, Gay Days, running, and are now launching a more frigid counterpart, Aspen Gay Ski Week.

They hope that somebody in the gay community (Billy Manes?) will pick up the film and radio gigs and run with them. Blah. Wait a minute: Aspen? Rescued puppies? We wish we were the Manleys. No sympathy allowed.

Lying, bribery and sleeping with a colleague’s wife may soon become more difficult for elected officials in Winter Park. That’s because the Winter Park city commission “has recognized the importance of high standards of ethical conduct for a healthy community” and done gone and created a bona fide ethics committee!

Five lucky Winter Park residents will be selected to make up the super-fantastic ethics board. Applications are available at www.cityofwinterpark.org, and frankly, poking around in the private lives of elected officials sounds like a dream job to us. Except there’s no pay. A dream hobby, then.

This week’s report by Jeffrey C. Billman, Billy Manes, Deanna Sheffield and Bob Whitby.


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