Posts Tagged ‘Buddy Dyer’

Brevard County wins twice in pursuit of place on expressway board

Thursday, March 9th, 2017

Brevard County’s push to get onto the Central Florida Expressway Authority Board won almost simultaneous victories Thursday in a Florida House panel and the expressway authority’s board itself.
The effort is being spearheaded by state Rep. Tom Goodson, a Merritt Island Republican whose House Bill 299 would create a 10th seat on the expressway board and reserve it for a Brevard County representative.
On Thursday that bill swiftly and unanimously cleared the House Government Accountability Committee with no discussion and no debate. It’s the second House committee the bill has cleared. A companion bill, state Sen. Debbie Mayfield‘s Senate Bill 720, awaits two hearings in the Senate.
The matter had come to a surprise to the expressway authority itself, which was not aware of the bills or the effort behind them, until after the bills had been filed. CFX officials initially had expressed confusion about the effort because no CFX highways extend into Brevard, and only very long-term plans – 20 or more years out – envision any, and those plans had anticipated the Brevard portions would be built by the state.
Yet on Thursday, the CFX board decided it liked the idea, given the current and growing cross-commuting and tourist transportation between the two counties and the longterm prospects.
The CFX board got its first briefing on the matter Thursday morning from Brevard County Board of County Commissioners Chairman Curt Smith in Orlando — literally simultaneously with when Goodson presented his bill to the House Government Accountability Committee in Tallahassee.
Ten minutes after the House committee approved Goodson’s HB 299 in Tallahassee, the CFX board crafted and unanimously approved a resolution supporting the bill in Orlando.
Goodson and Smith both made clearer the intentions behind the bill. In his Feb. 22 presentation to the Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee, Goodson implied that CFX already has highways in Brevard County. On Thursday, before the House Government

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Pulse nightclub massacre: Some patrons upset at not getting funds

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

Some Pulse nightclub patrons are upset that they aren’t receiving money from a $29.5 million victims’ compensation fund since they were outside the club when the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history began, newly released emails show.
In one email sent to Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, a Pulse patron said he and his boyfriend were in the valet area outside the gay nightclub when a gunman began his attack last June 12 at the club entrance. The patron said they were traumatized but aren’t getting compensation from the OneOrlando Fund because it requires patrons to have been inside to be eligible for funds.
The fund was set up to help out the families of the 49 deceased and the patrons who were inside. It’s distributing money for 305 claims.
“Although it’s impossible to accurately or adequately assess any one individual’s degree of trauma or stress experienced due to the massacre, I think we can all agree that being 10 feet away from the building’s front door after having spent several hours in the company of 49 people who are now dead IS TRAUMATIC,” David Jourdenais wrote the mayor.
That email and others belonging to Dyer and his chief of staff, Frank Billingsley, were obtained through a public records request.
A spokeswoman for the mayor, Cassandra Lafser, said Tuesday that the standards remain unchanged. She said an additional $1 million has come in since the original distribution, and the fund’s board will reconvene to figure out how to distribute the rest of the money.
Other emails show that Orlando city officials are making plans for the anniversary of the massacre, including seeking prominent performers for a possible concert. In a memo, an official wrote that artists are interested in performing but may have scheduling conflicts, according to the emails.
Pulse owner Barbara Poma said in an email

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Orlando is building the train station, not sure when or if trains will arrive

Saturday, January 21st, 2017

By the end of this year Orlando’s gleaming new $211 million train station should be virtually finished at Orlando International Airport, but it may be many years before trains start rolling in – if at all.
The Greater Orlando Aviation Authority is building a train station based on a vision of the future in which planes, trains, cars and buses all come together at what would be Florida’s tourism hub, with a people-mover tram connecting the station to the main air terminals, and a walkway to the next big air terminal GOAA plans to build next door. There also will be a new parking garage there.
In the vision, the planes would arrive from Sao Paulo, London, Frankfurt, New York, Atlanta, Los Angeles and elsewhere. The visitors move to the station from the main terminal on the people-mover trams, and then board high-speed trains for South Florida, commuter trains to downtown Orlando and the rest of the SunRail corridor, or light-rail trains to the Orange County Convention Center and the glittery hotels and attractions of International Drive. Or they get off those planes and trains and board buses or taxis, or rental cars, to explore the world’s tourism Mecca of Central Florida.
Construction of the station, known in transportation-jargon as the Orlando Intermodal Transportation Facility, began with contracts and promises for multiple trains and the kind of widespread civic support for which Orlando’s big projects are known.
“We’re moving along. We expect the project to be substantially complete,” GOAA Executive Director Phil Brown said of the train station, the parking garage and the people mover. “We’ll probably be operational in the fall of 2017.”
But trains never come easily for Orlando.
Brightline, formerly known as All Aboard Florida, just unveiled its first train set in West Palm Beach, with assurances that it and 15 others should start rolling,

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Tale of 2 parties: Florida GOP high, Dems low ahead of 2018

Sunday, January 15th, 2017

The state Republican and Democratic parties met two miles from each other Saturday, their first meetings since Donald Trump carried Florida in November’s election, but the atmosphere and enthusiasm were worlds apart.
As both parties chose their leaders, it was easy to see which has more confidence heading into an election cycle when the governor’s office and all three Cabinet seats will be open. Republicans were aglow in victory after Trump stunned many political observers by winning the state Barack Obama carried in 2008 and 2012. At the same time, Democrats held a contentious election to choose a new chairman with little talk about this past election.
“How good does this feel? We defied the mainstream media, we defied conventional wisdom, defied the pollsters,” Republican Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam told GOP county chairs. “Right across town, Democrats are having their election and they’re not feeling near as good.”
As both parties prepare for 2018, Republicans are focused on how to build off the momentum Trump built with voters who traditionally haven’t been part of the political process while Democrats elected wealthy real estate developer and major party donor Stephen Bittel as chairman in hopes of ending two decades of futility at the polls.
“Donald Trump got a lot of people off of the couch and got them involved. It is our job at the Republican Party of Florida to harness all of that passion, all of that energy, and keep them in the game,” said state GOP Chairman Blaise Ingoglia, who was easily re-elected. “And when we do, and mark my words we will do it, we will cripple the Democrat Party for a generation.”
After the Democrats elected Bittel, a group of protesters stood outside the meeting room holding signs that read, “SHAME,” ”This is not the party of the people” and “People over

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Orlando mourns deaths of 2 law enforcement officers

Tuesday, January 10th, 2017

Law enforcement officers in Orlando were engaged in a massive manhunt early Tuesday for a man accused of fatally shooting a police officer who approached him outside a Wal-Mart.
The manhunt itself has led to the death of a sheriff’s deputy in a traffic accident and the injury of another officer.
Master Sgt. Debra Clayton, 42, was killed outside the Wal-Mart store in northwest Orlando early Monday, and Orange County Sheriff’s Office Deputy 1st Class Norman Lewis was killed more than two hours later in a crash while responding to a manhunt for Markeith Loyd, 41.
Another Orlando police officer was involved in a crash while responding to the shooting but had only minor injuries.
Authorities said Loyd previously was a suspect in the killing of his pregnant ex-girlfriend in December. A massive manhunt involving hundreds of officers was conducted all day Monday as they searched for Loyd in dozens of homes, displacing some residents of a northwest Orlando apartment complex and tying up traffic.
“He should be considered armed and dangerous,” Police Chief John Mina said. Later in the day, the chief said, “It doesn’t matter where he is. We will track him down to the ends of the Earth.”
Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said deputies had been searching unsuccessfully for Loyd for several weeks since the fatal shooting of his ex-girlfriend and believe he was receiving help from someone.
Mina lauded Clayton, a 17-year veteran of the force, as a committed officer and a hero who gave her life to the community she loves. The Orlando Police Department said in a tweet that Clayton always had a smile and a high five for every child she came across.
Clayton had grown up in the Orlando area and was active in programs that mentored young people.
“She was always the first to step up and help kids,”

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John Mina ready to go ‘to the ends of the Earth’ to catch shooting suspect Markeith Loyd

Monday, January 9th, 2017

Orlando Police Chief John Mina was sure of himself standing before a crowd Monday afternoon – they were going to catch Markeith Loyd, the suspect in the killing of Master Sergeant Debra Clayton by firearm earlier in the day.
“It doesn’t matter where he goes,” Mina said. “We’ll track him to the ends of the Earth.”
Mina said they were currently searching for Loyd in the Brookside Apartments area, located at 3997 Rosewood Way in Orlando. He advised anyone who didn’t absolutely need to be there to leave the area, as there was a high police presence there as of the late afternoon.
He also disclosed more details about Clayton’s final hours.
According to Mina, Clayton had been on patrol when she was approached early Monday morning by a civilian who tipped her off about Loyd’s presence in the area.
As Loyd was wanted for the December killing of a pregnant woman, Clayton responded by going to the Walmart at the corner of Princeton Street and John Young Parkway where Loyd had been reportedly seen. She saw him and a short foot chase ensued.
It was when she yelled out “stop” that Loyd allegedly turned and fired at her. She was hit, but returned fire – although Mina said they don’t currently believe he was hit.
Loyd also hit another officer, Joe Castro, and wounded him as he fled.
From there, Loyd escaped and a manhunt ensued, which has been going on most of the day Monday.
Mina said the department’s current belief was that people had absolutely been helping Loyd evade capture – he was still wanted on the murder from December, after all.
“I believe people have been helping him all along,” he said. “If we find out who they are, we will criminally charge them.”
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer called the day “incredibly difficult” for everyone and assured

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Buddy Dyer calls for ‘day of mourning’ after officer deaths

Monday, January 9th, 2017

Two law enforcement officials were killed on Monday morning – Orlando Police Department Master Sergeant Debra Clayton as well as an Orange County Sheriff’s deputy in a motorcycle crash while pursuing Loyd in a chase afterwards.
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer has said today shall be a “day of mourning.”
In what’s being called a “tragic irony,” the shooting of both officers Monday morning occurred on what is known as Law Enforcement Appreciation Day.
Clayton was shot near a Walmart earlier on Monday.
The man suspected in the shooting, Markeith Loyd, is also wanted for the murder of a pregnant woman last December, according to the OPD on Twitter.
Loyd was still at large late Monday morning.
Police Chief John Mina called Clayton “deeply committed to the community,” and said they were helping her family – a husband and two children – with everything they needed.
“I worked with her for 17 years,” he said. “She was deeply committed to this community. She gave her life protecting the community she loved.”
Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs said the community’s collective hearts broke for the loss of Clayton and the deputy.
“The death of any law enforcement officer is an utter tragedy and a blow to the entire community,” she said. “We will stand with all of Central Florida and the nation in paying tribute to the service and courage of this dedicated officer.”
Sen. Randolph Bracy said the killings, as well as that of the pregnant woman last December, had only strengthened his resolve to work hard for criminal justice reform and gun control in the Senate.
“I condemn this violence and I will work hard as the Senate Criminal Justice Committee Chairman to reform our laws, to make it harder for criminals to have access to high powered and illegal weapons in our communities,” he said. “The alleged shooter in this case is linked to another murder

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Infamous dates: The moments that shaped Florida politics in 2016

Friday, December 30th, 2016

Everyone expected Florida to play an important role in politics this year.
And why wouldn’t they? Presidential hopefuls hailed from here; the state’s electoral votes were coveted; and its Senate race could have determined control of the U.S. Senate.
But just like many predictions in 2016, some of the prophecies for Florida’s outsized role on the national stage fell flat. Many believed a Sunshine state politico would be a presidential nominee (not quite right) or that the election would hinge on its 29 electoral votes (close but no cigar). And that much anticipated battle for the U.S. Senate? It fizzled out before the first vote was even cast.
Here are the dates that really mattered in Florida politics this year. And some of them might just surprise you.
Jan. 20 — Florida Senate says it won’t appeal redistricting decision — A years-long battle over the state’s political lines came to an end in January, when Senate leadership announced it planned to let the court-ordered maps go into effect. The Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald reported the four-year legal battle cost Florida taxpayers more than $11 million. The new maps threw a wrench in the 2016 election cycle, with all 40 of Florida’s state Senate seats on the ballots. While many believed the new maps could boost Democrats chances in 2016, that didn’t quite pan out.
Feb. 20 — Jeb Bush ends 2016 presidential bid —  All signs pointed to Jeb Bush being the front-runner for the GOP nomination. The son and brother of two presidents, the former Florida governor racked up a massive war chest and plenty of big-name endorsements. But Bush couldn’t make headway in a crowded field of Republican hopefuls and was often on the receiving end of then-candidate Donald Trump’s attacks. After a sixth place finish in Iowa and a fourth place finish in New

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Adam Putnam political committee brings in more than $2.3 million in 2016

Thursday, December 29th, 2016

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam raised more than $2 million in 2016, boosting his war chest ahead of a likely 2018 gubernatorial bid.
State records show Florida Grown, Putnam’s political committee, raised more than $2.3 million through Nov. 30. The committee has raised more than $6.3 million since February 2015, according to state campaign finance records.
Records show Florida Grown spent nearly $1.4 million in 2016, including at least $240,000 for political consulting and $51,450 for advertising and advertising design work.
Putnam is one of several Republicans pondering a 2018 gubernatorial bid. While he hasn’t formally announced his plans for 2018, many consider Putnam to be the man-to-beat in what will likely be a crowded Republican field.
Former House Speaker Will Weatherford announced on Dec. 22 he decided against a 2018 bid, saying his role in the 2018 gubernatorial election “should be as a private citizen and not as a candidate.”
“My focus right now is on raising my family, living out my faith, and growing my family’s business,” he said in a statement. “I look forward to supporting Republican candidates that share my conservative convictions and can keep Florida headed in the right direction.”
But Weatherford is far from the only Republican considering hoping in the race. House Speaker Richard Corcoran is believed to be considering a run, and a recent Gravis Marketing poll conducted for the Orlando Political Observer tested how Attorney General Pam Bondi, CFO Jeff Atwater and former Rep. David Jolly would fare on the ballot.
The field is expected to be just as crowded on the Democratic side. Former Rep. Gwen Graham, the daughter of former governor and Sen. Bob Graham; John Morgan, an Orlando trial attorney and top Democratic donor; Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine; Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn; and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer are all considering a run.
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Adam Putnam political committee brings in more than $2.3 million in 2016

Thursday, December 29th, 2016

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam raised more than $2 million in 2016, boosting his war chest ahead of a likely 2018 gubernatorial bid.
State records show Florida Grown, Putnam’s political committee, raised more than $2.3 million through Nov. 30. The committee has raised more than $6.3 million since February 2015, according to state campaign finance records.
Records show Florida Grown spent nearly $1.4 million in 2016, including at least $240,000 for political consulting and $51,450 for advertising and advertising design work.
Putnam is one of several Republicans pondering a 2018 gubernatorial bid. While he hasn’t formally announced his plans for 2018, many consider Putnam to be the man-to-beat in what will likely be a crowded Republican field.
Former House Speaker Will Weatherford announced on Dec. 22 he decided against a 2018 bid, saying his role in the 2018 gubernatorial election “should be as a private citizen and not as a candidate.”
“My focus right now is on raising my family, living out my faith, and growing my family’s business,” he said in a statement. “I look forward to supporting Republican candidates that share my conservative convictions and can keep Florida headed in the right direction.”
But Weatherford is far from the only Republican considering hoping in the race. House Speaker Richard Corcoran is believed to be considering a run, and a recent Gravis Marketing poll conducted for the Orlando Political Observer tested how Attorney General Pam Bondi, CFO Jeff Atwater and former Rep. David Jolly would fare on the ballot.
The field is expected to be just as crowded on the Democratic side. Former Rep. Gwen Graham, the daughter of former governor and Sen. Bob Graham; John Morgan, an Orlando trial attorney and top Democratic donor; Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine; Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn; and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer are all considering a run.
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Adam Putnam political committee brings in more than $2.3 million in 2016

Thursday, December 29th, 2016

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam raised more than $2 million in 2016, boosting his war chest ahead of a likely 2018 gubernatorial bid.
State records show Florida Grown, Putnam’s political committee, raised more than $2.3 million through Nov. 30. The committee has raised more than $6.3 million since February 2015, according to state campaign finance records.
Records show Florida Grown spent nearly $1.4 million in 2016, including at least $240,000 for political consulting and $51,450 for advertising and advertising design work.
Putnam is one of several Republicans pondering a 2018 gubernatorial bid. While he hasn’t formally announced his plans for 2018, many consider Putnam to be the man-to-beat in what will likely be a crowded Republican field.
Former House Speaker Will Weatherford announced on Dec. 22 he decided against a 2018 bid, saying his role in the 2018 gubernatorial election “should be as a private citizen and not as a candidate.”
“My focus right now is on raising my family, living out my faith, and growing my family’s business,” he said in a statement. “I look forward to supporting Republican candidates that share my conservative convictions and can keep Florida headed in the right direction.”
But Weatherford is far from the only Republican considering hoping in the race. House Speaker Richard Corcoran is believed to be considering a run, and a recent Gravis Marketing poll conducted for the Orlando Political Observer tested how Attorney General Pam Bondi, CFO Jeff Atwater and former Rep. David Jolly would fare on the ballot.
The field is expected to be just as crowded on the Democratic side. Former Rep. Gwen Graham, the daughter of former governor and Sen. Bob Graham; John Morgan, an Orlando trial attorney and top Democratic donor; Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine; Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn; and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer are all considering a run.
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Email Insights: Republican Governors Association takes aim at Gwen Graham

Thursday, December 8th, 2016

The 2018 gubernatorial race has officially begun — even though none of the likely candidates have filed paperwork to run.
In an email Thursday, the Republican Governors Association blasted outgoing Rep. Gwen Graham, one of several Democrats considering a 2018 run. The association said Graham’s office hasn’t responded to Freedom of Information Act requests made by the Republican Governors Association.
According to documents provided by the Republican Governors Association, the organization requested all documents related to Graham Companies, real estate and development projects in Florida, and the “American Dream Project” in Miami. The request was made in October; and in an email Thursday, the RGA said the documents would “give voters valuable insight into how she conducts her congressional office.”
“When it comes to transparency, Gwen Graham says one thing, but does another. Graham says she believes that Florida families deserve full transparency, but as her actions have demonstrated, she only believes in full transparency until it could impact her quest for political power,” said Jon Thompson, the director of communications for the Republican Governors Association, in a statement. “Graham should immediately release her congressional records so that Florida voters know exactly how she was using her influence as a Washington politician to benefit her political ambitions.”
Graham has resigned from the board and said Thursday she has no involvement in the project mentioned in the FOIA request.
“As the RGA probably already knows, I voluntarily resigned from the company’s board when I was elected to Congress, and I have no involvement with this project,” she said in a statement. “We are 23 months away from the Governor’s election in Florida, and there will be plenty of time for the RGA to engage in this petty nonsense and partisan attacks. For the rest of 2016, I’m focused on finishing the job I was elected to

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Buddy Dyer at State of Downtown address: ‘We have one downtown’

Tuesday, December 6th, 2016

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer appeared before a crowd at the Bob Carr Theater to deliver his annual State of Downtown address, which focused not so much on new ideas as it did on refinement of old ones.
Namely, he spent most of the speech focused on the betterment of the Parramore neighborhood, long an area of concern for the city.
Once a thriving community, the neighborhood had sunk into crime and poverty by the time Dyer took office. Since then, local government organizations have put together programs to advance jobs and education in the area, intending to help the residents who need a hand.
Dyer said things have gotten better in Parramore this year, with lower crime rates (with juvenile crime down 61 percent as of Tuesday) and programs like Parramore Kidz Zone having helped many youths in the area go to school. There are more jobs, he said, and they’ve added new parks and amenities to make Parramore a more pleasant place to live.
“A lot communities would consider our work done,” he said. “But here in Orlando, we dream bigger, and the residents of Parramore have dreamed bigger, and they want more for their neighborhood. Our shared dream is to return Parramore to a neighborhood of opportunity that celebrates its rich history. We want Parramore to be a place where someone can grow up, have immediate access to education, and apply that education to a modern career, all without ever leaving downtown Orlando.”
Dyer then went on to speak of a number of improvements laid out for the years to come – UCF and Valencia’s new downtown campus, slated to open in 2019, and beyond that, a creative village poised to make downtown Orlando a hub of innovators, residents and businesses for as far in the future as one could imagine.
They’re also looking at more housing, especially

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Owner of Pulse changes mind on selling club to City of Orlando

Monday, December 5th, 2016

The owner of the Pulse nightclub, Barbara Poma, has decided not to sell the building to the City of Orlando – or anyone else for now, she said.
In a release issued by her lawyers, Benitez Law Group, Poma says the Pulse nightclub simply means too much to her to sell to anyone else.
“Pulse means so very much to my family and to our community,” she wrote. “And I can’t just walk away. I feel a personal obligation to ensure that a permanent space at Pulse be created so that all generations to come will remember those affected by, and taken on, June 12.
“I intend to create a space for everyone, a sanctuary of hope, and a welcoming area to remember all those affected by the tragedy. I plan to do that directly with the involvement of the communities impacted by this tragedy, the families of the victims and any private or public sector individuals or organizations who wish to assist. We must do this together as a community.”
She then goes on to express her hope that they can join together and “build a place to memorialize our Angels.”
On Monday morning, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said he had not talked to Poma personally yet, but that the city would be taking a step back and figuring out how to move forward in their own way in terms of creating a Pulse memorial. He spoke of the items collected by the Orange County Regional History Center and the memorial put up by Orlando Health, which is right down the street from Pulse – these were all things they could consider in terms of working to enact a permanent city memorial.
He also spoke of the dissent on the board in terms of purchasing Pulse.
“I know there were two commissioners who did not want to

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Orlando named ‘Gay City of the Year’ by gay travel site

Friday, December 2nd, 2016

Orlando has been named “Gay City of the Year” by the gay travel site GayCities.com, which praised the City Beautiful for its outpouring of compassion and unity following last summer’s horrific massacre at the Pulse nightclub and then noted Orlando had been a strong city for gays all along.
“GayCities honors the city & community of Orlando for its compassion and resiliency in the wake of the horrific Pulse Nightclub massacre of 2016,” the site declared in announcing the annual award. “We salute your bravery and spirit in the face of unspeakable cruelty & adversity, an example to us all.”
An earlier post on the site, since apparently removed, described Orlando as a place that has long been welcoming to the LGBT community, and noted the gay-tourism outreach provided by VisitOrlando, Orange County’s convention and visitors’ bureau. The bureau publishes a “Gay Travel Guide” among its specialized-market efforts.
The official announcement is set for Dec. 12.
VisitOrlando President George Aguel boasted about the “City of the Year” designation Friday when he met with the county’s Tourist Development Council, which includes both Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer.
“It is nice to get that news. It continues to favor the opportunity we see to expand our awareness that this is a place for what is a huge travel market,” Aguel said.
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Orlando’s cornucopia of thanks runneth over for area leaders

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016

As Orlandoans gather round dinner tables with family and close friends, let us start by being thankful that those of us who can be are there to gather.
Let’s give thanks for a community that found comfort, faith, and strength in each others arms during the dawn following our darkest day, and for the commitment that we all meant what we said when we pledged unity.
This year, 2016, has been one to test our strength and faith and it’s not over. Pulse. The rash of shootings and senseless murders on Orlando’s west side. Zika. The continued demise of Puerto Rico. The gator attack on the little boy at Walt Disney World. The heroin epidemic. The murder of Christina Grimmie. The harsh, divisive election campaigns.
So it’s a mixed cornucopia we see on the table this year, filled with abominations, but also with blessings. Central Florida’s political leaders will see the same, as they sort out who or what to really be thankful for.
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer should give thanks to both the city’s rich and powerful and the un-rich and un-powerful advocates who do so much good through passionate determination, and all the close relationships he’s built with all of them over the years. With those bonds he was able to leverage a beyond-expectation community response to the Pulse nightclub tragedy; and put the focus on the proper aspects, law enforcement, fire fighters and paramedics, medical professionals, service providers, healers, hope. The more tedious road to longterm recover lays ahead, so he’s got to continue leveraging those ties. Meanwhile, he must give thanks for the increasing coolness of central Orlando and big projects going forward like Creative Village, the Lake Nona sports centers, and the airport expansion.
Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs should give thanks that she and this community share a heart

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Meet Congresswoman-elect Val Demings of Orlando

Tuesday, November 15th, 2016

Long before young Trayvon Martin‘s tragic death sent destabilizing shockwaves from Central Florida throughout America, long before Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter turned into a standoff, and certainly long before the divisive election campaigns of 2016, Democrat Val Demings was calling for unity in Orlando and in America.
Now, thanks to her resounding victory last Tuesday, she’s Congresswoman-elect Demings, a former big-city police chief who worked her way up from street cop, a former social worker, an African-American daughter of a janitor and a maid who grew up the way they wanted, and someone who still sees herself as a bridge between those who are angry, fearful, and distrustful on various sides of various divides.
She calls healing her top priority.
“I was painfully, painfully – did I say I was ‘painfully?’ – painfully disappointed in the morning after Hillary Clinton did not win,” Demings said in a lengthy interview with FloridaPolitics.com. “But the truth of the matter is my agenda really has not changed. … Our country was divided before Donald Trump was elected. You know, we’ve dealt with some tough issues, whether it was criminal justice reform, police-community relations, or income inequality.
“We’re one country and one United  States of America, and it is more important than any partisan politics,” she added. “The healing and uniting of our nation was before Trump and will continue to be my number one priority because this is a nation that needs healing. And we can do it if we all focus on it.”
And for her that starts with trying to build unity  coalitions she can work with in Congress.
“I’m going to take the first 60 days to really try to build relationships, strong relationships on both sides of the aisle, pick out people whom I feel we have shared agendas, shared backgrounds, shared visions for this country,”

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Buddy Dyer, Phillip Levine, Bob Buckhorn, others on Mayors for Hillary bus tour

Thursday, October 20th, 2016

What a party bus this will be. A Democratic Party bus, filled with mayors from Florida including Orlando’s Buddy Dyer, Miami Beach’s Phillip Levine, Tampa’s Bob Buckhorn, and St. Petersburg’s Rick Kriseman, has begun a cross-state tour to campaign for Hillary Clinton.
Hillary for America announced Thursday that those four and 19 other mayors and former mayors — some from out-of-state cities like Detroit, Philadelphia and Dallas — are participating in the tour with at least four stops to promote Clinton’s economic plan and urge people to vote early.
The activity actually began Wednesday night with a kick-off debate watch party in Miami, and will roll Friday to Orlando and Gainesville, and Saturday to Tallahassee, with other stops yet to be scheduled or announced.
In addition to Levine — widely discussed as a 2018 gubernatorial candidate — Dyer, Buckhorn and Kriseman, the Florida mayors include Wayne Messam of Miramar, Oliver Gilbert of Miami Gardens, Lauren Poe of Gainesville; Andrew Gillum of Tallahassee, Thomas Masters of Riviera Beach, and former Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown.
From out of state, Florida will meet William Bell of Birmingham, Alabama, Jacqueline Goodall of Forest Heights, Maryland, Sly James of Kansas City, Lovely Warren of Rochester New York, Malcolm Clark of Mt. Vernon, New York, Steve Benjamin of Columbia, South Carolina, Bill Bell of Durham, North Carolina, and former mayors Michael Nutter of Philadelphia, Mark Mallory of Cincinnati, Mike Coleman of Columbus, Ohio, Wellington Webb of Denver, Dennis Archer of Detroit, and Ron Kirk of Dallas.
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Buddy Dyer postpones state of city speech due to Hurricane Matthew

Tuesday, October 4th, 2016

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer‘s annual State of the City Address has been postponed until after it’s certain the city is OK.
The mayor’s office announced Tuesday it and the Downtown Orlando Partnership are postponing the speech that was scheduled for Wednesday, as Hurricane Matthew continues its uncertain march past or into Florida later this week.
A new date and time have not been set.
Stating that the safety of Orlando residents and businesses is the top priority, Dyer encouraged all residents and businesses to closely monitor Hurricane Matthew and use Tuesday and Wednesday to prepare themselves, their families, and employees for potential landfall. For more information, suggested supplies, and things to consider while preparing for a storm, visit cityoforlando.net.
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TDC passes plan for Tourist Development Tax money to fund Dr. Phillips center, sports events

Friday, September 30th, 2016

Friday’s Tourist Development Council ended positively as the board agreed to reallocate Tourist Development Tax funding to help complete the second phase of the Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center and establish a bid for multiple sporting events.
The funds as agreed upon include an additional $45 million to go towards the Dr. Phillips center, which will help complete the Steinmetz hall still in need of completion.
In addition, the new agreement will allocate $5 million towards establishing a sports bid fund under Visit Orlando, which would be replenished with $2 million every year thereafter.
The proposal was passed unanimously by the Tourist Development Council. It’s not in the clear yet – it’ll still have to be passed through by the City of Orlando and the Orange County Board of Commissioners, on Oct. 24 and Nov. 1 respectively, and there will be one workshop on the matter from the Board of County Commissioners.
But Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs and other officials, including Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, were optimistic, and couldn’t see any downsides to the deal.
“We’re extremely supportive of restructuring the debt,” he said. “This will enable us to pay off a 30-year debt in 10 years. That way, money becomes available for other uses.”
Under the previous rule, the county had to give the city excess revenue over a certain threshold, which would be put into an escrow account of sorts, not able to be used on important projects. Now, instead, they’ll be able to use more money faster to complete an array of projects around Orange County and Orlando.
Some of those other uses include the Orlando Science Center, the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, the Orlando Ballet, the Downtown CRA and Visit Orlando.
Jacobs said the sweetest part of the deal to her was that, only a few months ago, there was doubt and confusion over what

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