The week that the county squashed the city's "arts" dream, Maitland wondered what art was, cops and firemen got angry and Full Sail became a full male
Published: February 17, 2011
Not all of Central Florida's municipalities were so willing to lay prostrate before the siren song of fine arts prestige. Take the city of Maitland, which, the day before the battering of DPAC, pulled back the reins on Art & History Museums Maitland (formerly the Maitland Art and History Association) after the hungry young organization, not even a year old, essentially told the city that it needed a 99-year lease for the historic Maitland Art Center property - now, please. "I get the impression that there seems to be a rush to get this done," said Maitland mayor Howard Schieferdecker at the Feb. 9 meeting between the city and A&H representatives at City Hall.
Speaking to A&H director Andrea Bailey Cox, Councilman Phil Bonus presented the bitter pill. "We don't have the empirical experience of your success at all yet," he said. "We're all just a little nervous."
But Cox argued that the equation was the other way around: A&H would only be able to prove itself once it had the stability and legitimacy ?afforded it by having a claim to the art center. "It's a horse and cart issue," she said.
After some introspection, the city realized that it doesn't quite know what it wants A&H to prove exactly and will reconvene with the group on March 2 to talk more about their feelings.
'Twas the seventh of February, and hours after Rick Scott unveiled his new budget, about 50 firefighters, police officers and their sympathizers united behind their windbreakers at the corner of Bumby Road and E. Colonial Drive to voice their displeasure at Count Scott's plan for their pensions. The governor had proposed that state employees begin paying 5 percent of their salaries into the state pension fund, that new hires have their contributions invested in a 401(k)-style plan rather than the existing defined benefit plans, that the Deferred Retirement Option Program be eliminated and that cost-of-living adjustments for existing pensions end.
But, knowing that all those details are somewhat cryptic, tentative and difficult to communicate in sound bites, most protestors took a cue from the Egyptians and raised the simpler, larger issue of the man himself: Can Embezzler-in-Chief Rick Scott be trusted with all that money? Or, as Phil Chase, a city firefighter, put it: "How are you going to be the taxpayers' savior by stealing from us?"
"Oh, they're pissed," says Steve Clelland, president of the Orlando Professional Firefighters union, of the people surrounding him. Clelland estimates that half of the city's firefighters and 80 percent of police officers vote Republican, and that, if the proposed pension plan passes in the legislature, Scott could see his slim margin of victory emerge on the other side of the ticket come election time. "When you attack their benefits, it's personal," he says.