We propose some New Year's resolutions for some of our favorite people, places and organizations

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We propose some New Year's resolutions for some of our favorite people, places and organizations

For ... Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs: Let the sun shine in.

She arrived to public office under the guise of transparency and fighting for the good of taxpayers – it was a really awesome promise – but she hasn't really kept her word on that. Not to beat a dead horse, but losing two public records lawsuits in the span of two years (the most recent one involved an undisclosed Dropbox account, and she's not even going to challenge it, because, uh, she did it) sends a bad message to your constituency. Given that Jacobs is going to be running the lives of more than a million people over the next four years, maybe she should stop sticking her hand in that cookie jar of secrecy and start playing by the rules.

For ... Orange County Clerk of Courts Tiffany Moore Russell: Support the people that supported you.

When Tiffany Moore Russell was elected to become Orange County's next Clerk of Courts, she said she supported marriage equality. Her stance garnered her a ton of support from the local LGBT community. So what a slap in the face it was to learn in December that, despite a court ruling refusing to extend a stay to keep Florida's ban on gay marriage in place, Russell will not issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Orange County. Why? Because the court ruling that struck down the gay marriage ban isn't binding outside the county where it was issued, so Russell says that, on the advice of her attorneys, she won't go out on a limb to issue licenses. This is a rapidly developing story, and this issue goes to press early. We hope that by the time the New Year rolls around, Moore abandons what looks to us like a cowardly decision and joins her fellow progressive county clerks in celebrating marriage equality. UPDATED: As we mentioned, this issue went to press extremely early. After we put the issue to bed, Orange County Clerk of Courts Tiffany Moore Russell filed an emergency petition asking the Circuit Court for clarity on the legality of issuing marriage licenses for same-sex couples. On Dec. 31, a judge ruled that clerks of court across the state should issue marriage licenses for same-sex couples in all counties. Including Orange. We're pleased to see that Russell has indeed followed through on her promise to support her LGBT allies. Read more here. Consider this resolution fulfilled. – Editor

For ... Florida Hospital Orlando: Play nice with your neighbors.

At times, the hospital has been a force for good in Ivanhoe Village, like when it partnered with Homegrown Local Food Cooperative to give them a storefront. But they've also played the heavy. The hospital's voracious appetite for local real estate means every savvy renter, whether residential or commercial, is mentally prepared for the day their landlords sell up and kick them out. (Just ask Theatre Downtown, a now-homeless 25-year Ivanhood mainstay, about that.) Maybe try to weigh more on the good-neighbor side of the scales in 2015?

For ... the Mennello Museum of American Art: Hire carefully.

With the retirement of executive director Frank Holt, the museum finds itself at a crossroads (insert here: that old chestnut about the Chinese word for "crisis" being the same as "opportunity"). While losing the curator who pretty much created the museum in his own vision is a blow, other organizations around town who've recently faced similar challenges came through famously. Cases in point: Ena Heller at Cornell Fine Arts Museum and Glen Gentele at Orlando Museum of Art.

For ... John Morgan: Keep fighting the good fight.

Mr. Morgan, our hope for you is that you continue your crusade for the legalization of medical marijuana with the same (or better) strength that you and your colleagues did this year. Midterm elections are difficult; we get it. But seeing as you have already committed to continuing the fight in 2016, we just hope that you continue to be that guy, even when YouTube videos try to take you down. "Medical marijuana in Florida got 500,000 more votes than Rick Scott and 600,000 more votes than Charlie [Crist]," you said to reporters in November. (Oh, also: Dump Charlie.) Maybe with more people voting against Jeb Bush, you can break a million.

For ... Mills 50: Don't forget the old school.

The Mills 50 neighborhood has become known as an incubator of cool new murals and graffiti art (the Pho 88 permission wall, the giant Mark Gmehling character looming above Snap Space, various works by Dolla Short and Andrew Spear) and we love it. But we beg you, don't neglect – or worse, displace – beloved vintage display art like the Acme Sign & Stamp Co. or the amazing tile mosaics of grizzlies and polar bears on the old Baer TV building (now home to a gym). The 12-foot-high rotating bear that used to live atop that building is gone; please don't let the mosaic go, too.

For ... Venue 578: Don't torch Firestone's legacy for nothing.

When Firestone Live announced a major rebranding that renamed one of Orlando's music history landmarks, it came as a shock. The effort is part of a massive move toward becoming an entertainment complex; the club took its old name from the Firestone Tire shop that occupied the space in 1928, but its new name echoes its street address (578 N. Orange Ave.). Venue 578 immediately stepped up its live music calendar, but 2015 efforts will need to rapidly escalate with even more awesome concerts to convince longtime music fans that the broader identity was worth pulling out their former roots.

For... the Yard: Don't ruin Ivanhoe Village.

Though we were at first entirely skeptical about the nature of this development, we've been hearing promising things about negotiations with the folks that make the Ivanhood (near Lake Ivanhoe) so charming. Developer Chance Gordy says he intends to make room for some of the displaced businesses – like the Venue – in his grand mixed-use buildout; also, there are promises of green spaces and retail. We know this development is inevitable, but please don't turn this 'hood into another boxy beige mess like everything else popping up in Orlando lately. We're counting on you.

For ... the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art: Share your toys.

It's a little-known fact that the Morse, home to one of the largest collections of Tiffany glass in the world, also shelters a stunning trove of vintage neon signs from around Winter Park and Orlando. The first time most people learned about it was when they removed and hauled away the iconic Merita Bread sign after the factory shut down last year. But there's no space to exhibit the entire sign collection in the Morse's current building, nor do they have the resources required to service and maintain the fragile pieces. Seeing these signs is on our bucket list, even if it's just a quick crawl through the storage space (call us!), but our biggest hope for 2015 is that someone will write a clever grant or make a gigantic donation that makes these beauties available to all.

For ... Uber Orlando: Don't fuck this up.

In December, the city of Orlando lowered its Mears-stoked hackles and allowed ride-sharing enterprises (Uber and Lyft) to operate throughout the city under certain conditions – namely, insurance and rates that are comparable to the vehicle-for-hire taxi regulations already in place. There's a lot that hangs in the balance on this one, and a recent spate of bad press about Uber drivers taking advantage of patrons isn't helping. We sincerely hope that the convenience of a smartphone app and the extra employment for some of the area's safe drivers make for a successful cab alternative, and only business-minded diligence is going to make that happen. So follow the rules, and we'll call you when we're drunk.

For ... Orlando Main Street Program: Do something big.

Look, OMSP, you've had a great run. You've rebranded some of the coolest neighborhoods in town with a top-down naming approach, and we drank the Kool-Aid: No more ViMi – it's Mills 50; Audubon Park is Audubon Park Garden District; and Semoran is ... SeBuPa (Semoran Business Partnership). We'll go along with it – because art Dumpsters are fun! – but let's talk about your wallet. A week doesn't go by that you're not having some sort of fundraiser in one of the neighborhoods, but until you're fully funded by the city, all of that money you're raising is really just going toward your managers' salaries and more marketing projects. We're tired of seeing you spend money on boring roadside banners that nobody reads. We want to see you do something big, like partner with your nonprofit sister-from-another-mister Lynx and put shelters at all of your bus stops. We want to see you take small business owners by the hand and help them traverse the giant mess that is the city's permitting office. So how about a 2015 of brave new forays into neighborhood-revitalization projects? How about championing some historic preservation actions – like saving the now-vacant-because-of-mold OUC power station on Orange Avenue? Ivanhoe Village paid to restore the holiday sign; now let's save the building underneath it. You can do it, guys.

For ... Orlando City Permitting: Go easier on small businesses.

If you happen to be reading this resolution while sitting in a freshly opened local business, we want you to put down the paper and find the owner of that establishment. Ask about his or her adventure with the city's permitting office. We guarantee you that you'll be regaled with a whirlwind tale of multiple needless trips to City Hall, random bills (meetings aren't free, y'all), seemingly made-up rules and a clustercuss of frustration. Businesses sometimes give up halfway through opening because the process is too difficult. Orlando's permitting process is scaring people away from opening shops and making it difficult for existing ones to succeed. (Meanwhile, huge development projects seem to get their way a lot lately.) Maybe the city's permitting office can start up a "permitting for dummies" academy that makes it easier for small business owners to jump through the hoops required to set up shop in our city.

For ... Orlando music fans:Get better acquainted with your local scene.

In 2015, explore notable local labels that get national attention, like DIY garage punk trendsetters Total Punk (floridasdying.com) and boldly discerning electronic music makers Relief in Abstract (reliefinabstract.com). Pay attention to tasteful show promoters like Non Prophet Organization (hardcore/heavy), Norsekorea (indie/everything) and the Civic Minded 5 (art rock/jazz/modern classical) to discover new bands and learn about talented locals through their careful show curation. Spend more time on Bandcamp and Soundcloud than Spotify/Pandora/iTunes/etc.

For ... Orlando bands: Remember that it's about quality, not quantity.

The fastest way to burn out a scene is by playing too many shows too close together. Try to space out your shows to diminish the mentality that "you can see that band any night." With a little more patience in scheduling in 2015, you could end up playing fewer shows to wider audiences by watching national tours and coordinating with local promoters to be added to the right lineups. Raise visibility by performing selectively. (Listen up, visual artists: This goes for you too.)

For ... SunRail: Give us a commitment.

At the end of 2014, the Florida Department of Transportation announced that it would do a test run of late-night trains for commuters to see what the demand was like. If things go well (that is, if enough people use the late trains), then we might see a commitment to late-night service earlier than expected. But there are no guarantees. There's nothing more frustrating, though, than getting improvements to service, then having them taken away weeks or months later. We've seen this happen before with SunRail (platform ambassadors, a third car on the evening run), and it's incredibly frustrating. If SunRail wants commuters to use the train, they need to give them consistent service and a reliable schedule. SunRail should commit to expansion, give people a timetable, then stick to it. It's the only way to ensure that SunRail will become a viable, reliable, beloved transportation option for Central Florida.

For ... Mayor Buddy Dyer: Save Tinker Field.

He may be the one person in Orlando who has the power to actually make sure this happens. We don't know what the future holds for Tinker Field, and we know that to many people it's just a neglected relic. But for the community in which it's located – Parramore – it's symbolic not just of the civil rights movement (it was the one and only place where Martin Luther King Jr. stopped in Orlando), but of the lack of respect the city has shown to the residents of this impoverished area of town. Some neighborhoods are lucky enough to get nice new things from the city of Orlando – a new soccer stadium, a performing arts center, a massive concert/basketball arena – while others seem to just get shoved out of the way to make way for those nice new things. Tinker Field is a chance for Dyer to show residents of Parramore that he hears them and he's taking their concerns (and their community) seriously.

For ... Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi: Evolve.

Do we really need to say anything more about this one? We didn't think so. Happy New Year.

About The Authors

Ashley Belanger

Associate editor, music nerd, NBA junkie, Florida explorer and obsessive pet owner.
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