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COLUMN

Happytown

Mike Haridopolos gets sanitized, Teresa Jacobs conjures DPAC magic and rich people in apartments can feel a lot safer now

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mother Teresa: Can the queen of the county magically save the performing arts center?


Speaking of minglepuss contagion, we've been hearing rumors for more than a month that somehow Queen Teresa Jacobs from the County of Orange was on the verge of waving her right arm in a pixie-dust flourish and saving the ill-fated Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts from almost certain oblivion this month. That's weird, we thought, because even you'll recall the mimeograph lashing that Jacobs unleashed on DPAC interests last month when they came a'groveling for a $30 million "bridge loan."

"The voters gave me a mandate, I believe," she wrote in a memo on Jan. 11, "to protect the county's financial resources and to limit the county's burden on taxpayers," adding that, if anything should change, she'll letcha know, k?

DPAC goddess Kathy Ramsberger immediately responded with press-aware salve ("There are media stories surrounding this issue," she wrote supporters in an e-mail) that everything was going to be fine, options would be evaluated, Rome would not fall.

The intervening month has brought the published admission from Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer that maybe the operations budget for the project was untenable, a little tête-à-tête between us and DPAC board member Linda Chapin, some nervous donor chatter and nary a peep from a groundbreaking machine on the empty lot across from City Hall. So what exactly does the county have up its sleeve?

Well, to begin with, tourist development taxes have been on the incline - Hogwarts! - pushing the county to raise its own expectations for fiscal year 2011 collections by 14.5 percent, or $20 million. Surely some of that could be filtered toward the $130 million the county promised the city for the project (of which it's only so far paid $10 million), right? Time for a little number shuffling?

"If you open the interlocal agreement, you have to open the whole can of worms," county spokesman Steve Triggs says. "I don't know if there's any appetite to do that."

That can of worms could also involve the green-coated jocks of Florida Citrus Sports sticking their size-12s back into the huddle and arguing to bump-up the forever-extended Citrus Bowl improvements. As a commissioner, Jacobs was responsible for making sure that DPAC had firsties on any extra TDT cash (you know, back when it was about art); clearly, she wouldn't change her mind. Not likely, says Triggs. For now, county staff is "putting [the agreement] through a fine-toothed comb" and looking for whatever construction or contractual holes might be in the fine print.

"There might be more on this next week," he told us rather ominously on Friday. In related news, the world is going to end next year.

After we reported last month about a database that keeps track of the homeless (which contains the information of 86,000 people), we found ourselves ranting about "secure sockets layers," seeing green strings of 0s and 1s, and hesitating a little longer before texting "FREE" to Pollo Tropical. The upside of our awakening to The Matrix, however, was that our antennae were also more sensitive to newsworthy database developments, including most recently, Orlando's participation in the Crime Free Multi-Housing Program.

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