HAPPYTOWN 


We've finally figured out who is going to be living in the thousands of condos downtown: retirees! You want a hip, swinging city? How about a city of people afraid they're going to break their hips?

That's because Orlando, according to Guy Miles, is one of the best cities in the country in which to retire. And Miles ought to know; he's 82 and retired.

But that's not what qualifies him as an expert. Miles holds a doctorate in psychology and spent his working life doing research in the social sciences for the federal government. One of his projects was to document how corporate farms were killing rural America, driving out the young and leaving only the elderly. That's what got him interested in the question of where retirees should move. Looking into it, however, all he found was advertorials from chambers of commerce.

"I wanted a Consumer Reports kind of thing," he says. So he did a little research (about 10 years worth) and created Retirement-Havens.com, a research-driven website aimed at telling old folks where to spend their golden years.

Orlando ranks as a "top choice" among 16 other large cities due to its "year-round" climate (though Miles notes it's "dangerously hot" in July and August); access to doctors, government services and transportation (has he been on I-4?); abundant recreational opportunities and "safety from environmental danger" (was he here in the summer of 2004?). The downside: O-Town scored low on "safety from crime." (See sidebar in this column for proof.) We think the relative paucity of early-bird specials is also a negative, though we can't prove it empirically.

SEMI-REGULAR FEATURE: POLITICAL AD WATCH

What: Republican gubernatorial hopeful Tom Gallagher’s latest TV ad discussing his “family policy” proposals

Where: All over TV and on Gallagher’s website, www.tg2006.com (go to “TomCast video”) Why: Because Gallagher is getting his ass kicked by as much as 31 percentage points in some polls by his opponent in the primary, Charlie Crist

Deconstruction: Time for Tom to take a hard right by declaring that no Massachusetts activist judge is going to tell Floridians gays can get married (duh). Oh, and those “we bare all” strip-club billboards you see on the Interstates? Screw the First Amendment, Gallagher’s taking them down. Personally. And he likes to take walks on the lawn with his wife and son. That means he’s not gay.

Though typically an advocate of reproductive rights, including the big "A," Sen. Bill Nelson PO'd a lot of folks when he voted yes on the Child Custody Protection Act at the end of July. The legislation makes it illegal to take a pregnant teen across state lines for an abortion without parental approval. Protesters from the Orlando chapter of the National Organization of Women quickly responded, interrupting the senator's July 30 film shoot for a campaign commercial with shame-on-you sentiments that he dodged in a condescending manner. ("How old are you?" he inquired of NOW president Jenna Cawley. "I bet I've been in politics a whole lot longer than you.") Planned Parenthood of Greater Orlando also called him out for backing "this harmful legislation."

According to the Congressional Quarterly, Nelson's voting throughout the 2005 session shows that he's a pretty Bush-friendly Democrat. What's up with the smoochy-smoochy, Bill?

Nos. 35, 36 and 37

No. 35: Michael Callin, died Aug. 2: Orange County deputy Callin, 26, was struck by a hit-and-run driver on Aug. 1, while the motorcycle cop sought speeders on the I-4 on-ramp at Kirkman Drive. He died of his injuries the next day. Police arrested Allan Barahona, 19, for running into Callin with his white Honda Civic after Callin stepped into the road to try to flag down Barahona’s car. One witness told police it looked like Barahona struck Callin on purpose. Police consider the incident a homicide.

No. 36: Lecene Germain, died Aug. 7: At 5 a.m. Tuesday, police responded to a call at 3728 Kitty Hawk Ave. and found 56-year-old Germain fatally wounded. No other information had been released at press time. No. 37: Christopher Charles, died Aug. 8: No official incident report from the Orlando Police Department by press time, but WESH-TV reported that police received a call at about 2 a.m. reporting a fight near North Dollins Avenue and Central Boulevard. Cops then got a second call reporting a dead man in a white Buick. Charles, the reported 51-year-old victim, apparently died of gunshot wounds.

Orlando has now recorded 37 homicides in 2006, breaking the record of 36 set in 1982.

Speaking of Dems, it's crunch time for them. The November elections are just three months away, which means political parties and candidates should be sitting on bucks if they want to deluge us with mailers. Since we've written before about the Orange County Democratic Executive Committee's fund-raising prowess, shaped under former chairman—turned—judicial candidate Tim Shea `"The Dems, post-Tim Shea," May 11`, we figured it's time to see how his money strategy was shaping up.

While this year's DEC fund-raising has been strong ($82,013), the party has been spending like Republicans at war ($77,807). Including money left over from last year, the Dems have just $26,197 cash on hand, according to their latest reports. That's better than they were at this point in 2004, when the party had $13,397 left. But there's one big difference: In 2004, then-chairman Doug Head ran the party, rent-free, out of his house. These days the DEC pays $7,000 a month in rent for its East Colonial Drive office. It's also averaging $3,900 a month in payroll costs for the three-month reporting period. That's nearly $11,000 a month in fixed costs, which doesn't leave much cash for candidates.

This week's report by Jeffrey C. Billman, Lindy T. Shepherd and Bob Whitby.

 

 

 

 

happytown@orlandoweekly.com

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