Elsewhere in this fine publication you’ll find a lengthy essay encouraging you to sit out this election because it doesn’t matter (“Don’t vote”). But on the chance that you don’t heed our advice Jan. 29, you’ll need to know for whom and what to vote, and we’re here to help so you don’t screw things up.

GOP primary: Sen. John McCain The Republican field is lame. Rudy Giuliani wants to scare the poop out of you. Mike Huckabee wants to replace the Constitution with Leviticus. Fred Thompson? Grandpa dropped out. Ron Paul is a racist with crazy followers. Mitt Romney is a vacuous suit who panders to the worst elements of the Republican Party, abandons principles the way others change their non-magic underwear, and makes up weird stories about marching with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and being a lifelong gun nut. That leaves McCain, who despite all of his faults – war forever, sucking up to the GOP hate machine he once labeled “agents of intolerance” – still ditches the party’s ideologues occasionally on issues like immigration and campaign finance. For lack of better options, McCain is the best choice.

Democratic primary: Whatever The Happytown™ editorial board is split on this one: Some of us favor Hillary Clinton, others Barack Obama. Even John Edwards got a vote, though his campaign has conceded that he’s going to lose every single state. Anyway, the Democratic Party stripped Florida of its delegates, so none of the candidates are campaigning here.

Mayor: Phil Diamond Orlando City commissioner Diamond isn’t running for mayor. Write him in anyway, because he’d make a much better mayor than either of the two boobs on the ballot. Buddy Dyer has squandered the faith we put in him in 2003 and 2004. On every major issue he’s been a colossal disappointment: the arena, the homeless, downtown redevelopment, open government, Parramore (on which, by the way, he said we were to evaluate his mayorship) – all failures. Ken Mulvaney was a loser four years ago and remains one today. Diamond, meanwhile, called foul on the venues right from the outset. He’s been the voice of reason on a council too willing to throw your money at anything that might make us a “real city.” It’s a shame he’s not running.

District 2: Belinda Ortiz The fact that Belinda Ortiz once shilled for the tourism power brokers is off-putting, but at least she gets why District 2 has seen such bad days of late: Commissioner Betty Wyman has been asleep at the switch. Now that she’s retiring, east Orlando gets a chance at fresh blood. Tony Ortiz, Belinda’s opponent (no relation) was Wyman’s police liaison and is her endorsed successor. David Blackwood simply fails to impress. Belinda Ortiz deserves this seat.

District 6: Sam Ings Our primary complaint with Ings is that at council meetings he has a tendency to prattle on about nonsense, and that needs to stop. Otherwise, he hasn’t done anything worse than any of his colleagues, and after Ernest Page got ejected from this seat in 2006, the district could probably use some representative consistency. Ings at least should get a shot at a full term of his own.

Amendment 1: No Gov. Charlie Crist wants to cut your taxes. Not by that much – about $20 a month for the average homeowner – but enough for him to campaign as a tax-cutter in 2010. Unfortunately, the meager savings you’ll gain frightens the hell out of local governments and school boards, almost all of whom say the tax cuts will gut vital services. It’s not worth it. Vote no.

We skipped the hullabaloo surrounding the mayor’s launch of the Downtown Information Center with its native Downtown Ambassadors Thursday – we’ve already been a downtown ambassador and it was boring [“I was a downtown ambassador,” Jan. 10] – but the other news outlets were quick to jump on the fact that, surprise, on their first day of ambassadoring (which was actually their 28th, fact fans), they nabbed somebody for stealing a marked OPD police bicycle! In related news, they’ve also given first aid to a homeless person, stopped a break-in at Ichiban Sushi and even broke up a fight in Parramore. It really is working!

But it is perilous work. We received a dispatch from a concerned reader (with photos!) detailing a fallen ambassador on South Street Jan. 12. Our reader wondered if the ambassadors are properly insured in the event that they slip on some hummus or something. Another lawyer-type asked us if we were aware that by now at least four ambassadors have been injured and relegated to “light duty.” Scandal!

City mouthpiece Heather Allebaugh confirms that there have been three Segway topples (two in the first week), and the victims were relegated to “light duty,” which means walking. Apparently the corporate Segway folk are coming back to retrain. And yes, concerned readers, the ambassadors are insured, like all city employees. “There’s no cap on that,” Allebaugh says. There is, however, a helmet.

We know how to have a good time, which is why we hightailed it over to the town hall meeting on property taxes over at the Orange County Public Schools Leadership Center Jan. 16. Nothing makes us puff up like amortization.

Concerned citizens speckled the fluorescently lit room, with what somebody nearby referred to as the “Gestapo” face-out from the front. Unfortunately not present, although he was originally promised, was Bob Allen. Hmm, he must have pulled out at the last minute! Anyway, Orange County property tax appraiser Bill Donegan kicked off the affair with a long-winded PowerPoint presentation about portability (you can make yourself portable at www.ocpafl.org, by the way, which isn’t as fun as it sounds), before Sentinel dude Scott Maxwell zinged him about using PowerPoint to determine his tips at friendly lunches.

State Rep. Scott Randolph gave his own slide show of opposition that basically pointed out what we all know: that Amendment 1 isn’t going to move the unsold housing inventory, and it could make our kids dumber and our streets more full of fire and crime. State Rep. Darren Soto likewise spoke out against it, before being reminded by Maxwell that he voted for it. Oops!

Bigger oops: The stickers being passed around by amendment opponents were printed by the Orange Fund for Children and Public Education – aka teachers – and they misspelled “amendment” as “ammendment.” See, it’s already happening!

This week’s report by Jeffrey C. Billman and Billy Manes.


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